When is the Best Time to Scatter Ashes?
One of the primary benefits of cremation is that you don’t have to hold a memorial service right away. With cremated remains, you can take days, weeks, months, or even years to get everyone together to hold a scattering ceremony. This kind of flexibility is important in our modern society, when families are spread out over the globe and can’t always rearrange their plans to travel to a funeral.
When you hold the scattering ceremony is entirely up to you, but there are key times that are more popular than others. If you’re hoping to be somewhat traditional, here are a few funeral home recommendations.
Immediately Following Cremation: If you already have your family gathered and want to say your goodbyes early on, you can scatter the ashes immediately following cremation. You should probably note, though, that it takes crematoriums a few days to process the remains and get them back to you. Expect there to be a 3 to 5 day delay on the time of cremation and the date you physically get the ashes.
At a Milestone Date: One week after death. One month after death. One year after death. Commemorating someone’s death in this way can be a good way to extend the bereavement process. Funerals tend to be over fast—which can be good for providing a sense of closure—but families mourn for years to follow. By setting a scattering ceremony for a date in the future, you can look forward to the event and also have more time to plan an elaborate ceremony.
During a Favorite Season: For many, a large part of the scattering ceremony is laying a loved one to rest somewhere meaningful. A favorite fishing spot at its peak in the spring, a winter skiing slope at the height of winter, the backyard garden when the peonies are in full bloom—all of these are great ideas, and are worth the wait.
Holidays and Anniversaries: A birthday, favorite holiday, anniversary, family reunion, or other important date is an ideal time to hold an ash scattering ceremony. Not only can you personalize the service this way, but you can often overlap with other family events so that more people can attend.
You can also wait until the time feels right. For some, scattering ashes is less about holding a formal event and more about doing what feels right. Keep the ashes in an urn or box on your mantle and wait until you’re finally ready to say goodbye. The nicest thing about cremation is that you don’t always have to make decisions right away—you have the gift of time, which is something few of us get to take advantage of these days.