There are many options for interring or transforming cremated remains on land (see Part One & Part Three). In part 2 of our series on what to do with cremated remains, we explore options that are in air and water.
We want to stress that whichever method you choose to scatter cremated remains, be sure to follow local guidelines and regulations. Each country, state and province has slightly different rules about where it is appropriate to scatter.
What Can You Do With Cremated Remains? Part Two
Scattering Cremated Remains
The National Funeral Directors Association 2019 Cremation and Burial Report suggests that only 16% of people choose to scatter cremated remains at non-cemetery locations. However, as 42% of cremains are returned to the family, we believe that this statistic does not fully reflect the number of individuals who choose to scatter their loved one’s cremated remains.
If you want to scatter cremated remains somewhere special to you, you may require a permit. For example, if you want to scatter cremated remains in Yosemite National Park in California, you must submit an application and adhere to the restrictions of scattering them out of the sight of any public use areas, no markers, and over a large enough area.
You might also consider something like a scattering garden, which is a beautiful outdoor location that has seating areas and plaques or memorials that offer a more permanent method of honoring the deceased. Another option is to scatter cremated remains at sea.
Scattering Cremated Remains from Above
There are also more extreme ways to scatter cremated remains. Egress and Wentzel Flying Service both provide an aerial scattering service that will scatter your loved ones remains from an airplane (attended or unattended by family). Some independent skydiving companies may be willing to help you scatter remains during a jump in remembrance of your favorite daredevil.
If you want the height without the plane, some people have scaled mountains and released remains into the wind at the summit (again, be sure to check local or park guidelines).
Scattering Cremated Remains with a Bang
Many people learned about sending off cremated remains in fireworks from the 2019 film Poms starring Diane Keaton, but this is a real option in several places around the world! The fireworks used are professional grade and will require professional set up and execution. A small amount of cremated remains (a few tablespoons) are added into each of the firework casings prior to launch. Some services use all of the remains, and others will only use a portion.
This practice isn’t particularly common in the United States, but if you are in Missouri you can reach out to Greenlawn Funeral Home for this option. In the United Kingdom you should contact Heavenly Stars Fireworks or Heavens Above Fireworks to inquire about these services. While this option isn’t universally available or permitted (and can cost upwards of $3,000), it can be a wonderful way to have a big celebration of a loved one’s life.
Scattering Cremated Remains in Space
If your loved one was out of this world (sorry, not sorry), or perhaps just really into space and exploration, they can also be sent into space! Companies like Celestis take on the task of sending cremated remains to space. With packages that range from $2,495 to $12,000, your loved one can spend their afterlife exploring the final frontier.
More recently, Elon Musk’s company Elysium Space is also taking on the task of sending cremated remains into space, but haven’t scheduled their next launch date as of this writing. Mesoloft is another company that releases balloons into the atmosphere to release cremated remains 20 miles above the earth.
Releasing Cremated Remains into Water
In addition to scattering cremated remains at sea by chartering a vessel, you can also choose an ocean burial urn. The Living Urn has an eco-water urn available to disperse cremated remains in the water. Other biodegradable urns include sea turtles handcrafted in Mexico and the Journey Biodegradable Earthurn, both of which gradually degrade in water.
However, in some places, there are important rules about these biodegradable urns. In California, the urn must break down in four hours or less to prevent beachgoers from encountering partially degraded urns.
Create Artificial Coral Reefs
To give back to the environment after death, you could also consider incorporating your cremated remains into an artificial coral reef. Eternal Reefs mixes the cremated remains with the concrete material used to create an artificial reef. The artificial reef ball is then placed in the ocean with a placard attached, containing the name and information about the deceased.
Families can be involved at every step of this process, including mixing the material together and placing the reef in the ocean, or be more hands-off and not attend the proceedings. These services can be costly, depending on the size of the artificial reef and the level of involvement of the family. An unattended casting for a smaller reef ball will cost $2,995 while the full family participation and bronze plaque with the largest reef ball will cost $7,995.
Open Pyre Cremation
A long-standing tradition in Hindu cultures, open pyre cremation is also being considered in the United States. This practice is a method of cremation in which the body is reduced to ashes by a wood burning fire; the funeral pyre is located outside in the open air. Currently, the only open-air cremation service in the U.S. that is publicly available is the Crestone End of Life Project, which is only open to residents of Saguache County in Colorado.
Maine is currently considering legislation that would allow certain sites to conduct open air cremations. These practices are currently not permitted in the United Kingdom, although individuals have won cases to allow it on the basis of religious belief.
So many choices…
There are many options when deciding what to do with cremated remains, and there is no right choice. Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series where we discuss how to incorporate cremated remains into keepsakes and memorabilia.