Do I Need An Urn If I Am Scattering The Ashes?

By: Alterna Cremation
Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The death of a loved one is incredibly overwhelming.  In addition to the obvious pain and grief that naturally come with loss, there are also many hidden obligations.  


Planning a funeral or memorial, writing an obituary, and honouring the deceased’s wishes are to be expected.  But navigating many of the practical and legal facets of a loved one’s death can bring us into realms we haven’t previously had reason to think much about.  


If your loved one is cremated, some of the questions that emerge may surround what can be done with their ashes.  Such questions are common, and most people don’t know the answers until they have reason to.  


Let’s take a look at some relevant and essential information about the process of scattering ashes.


What Is Cremation & What Are the Ashes Like?

Cremation is a method of the final disposition of a dead body through burning.  It’s a common practice throughout much of the world and is rooted in the traditions of many beliefs and cultures, including atheism.  After a body has been cremated, the remains are usually ground to create uniform ashes.  The ashes from human remains are light-coloured or grey and have a consistency similar to sand.  They are most often stored in an urn.


What Does It Mean To “Scatter” Ashes?

Scattering ashes refers to the process of removing ashes from their urn and placing them into the natural environment, usually in a location (or locations) meaningful to the deceased person.  There are a few different ways this can be done:

  • Casting - Casting is simply sprinkling the ashes and letting the wind spread them.  Be sure to stand upwind of the remains, and don’t be surprised if some ashes fall to the ground.  They are heavier than other ashes.


  • Raking - Raking is the process of gently raking the remains into the soil.  It can be a meaningful ceremony shared by many people.


  • Trenching - Trenching involves digging a shallow trench to bury the ashes.  It’s sometimes done on the beach, where the waves can ultimately wash the ashes away.


  • Water Scattering  - Water scattering is spreading the ashes over a body of water such as the ocean, a river, lake, pond, or stream.  Just make sure it’s not near any sources of drinking water.


If you’re planning to scatter ashes yourself, be sure to check local laws and regulations.  In general, you do need permission to scatter ashes on public and private land, as well as to transport them by air.  Manitoba’s regulations can be found here.  


What Is an Urn & Do I Need One?

An urn is a vessel for storing your loved one’s remains.  Many people choose to purchase high-quality decorative urns, particularly if they plan to keep the ashes in their home.  If you are looking for urns in Winnipeg, visit Alterna Cremation.  


But do you need an urn if you plan to scatter the remains?


The answer is no.  If you don’t wish to purchase an urn, Alterna will return your loved one’s remains to you in a simple and dignified container at no extra cost.  


Alterna Cremation strives to simplify the aftermath of a loved one’s death by providing straightforward and supportive services at a difficult time.  


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