Skip to content

Ashes confusion restricts last wishes

Families are holding onto their loved ones’ ashes because of restrictions and confusion on scattering cremated remains, according to a report from The Co-operative Funeralcare.

Its survey of 3,000 people revealed that three in five would like to scatter a relative’s ashes at a special place or bury them under a memorial but rules, confusion over rules or environmental concerns prevent many from doing so.

Many beauty spots ban ceremonies and memorials, or are against scattering because of fears that the ashes affect the environment. Often, football clubs prohibit scattering ashes at the ground or don’t advertise the service because of concerns about damage to pitches and number of potential requests.

Snowdonia National Park warns about the impact ashes could have on the environment, while the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has flagged up the problem of memorials being left on peaks. The Woodland Trust allows scattering of ashes as long as no formal ceremonies are held and the ground is not disturbed, and, while wardens at Lake Windermere say scattering ashes there is fine, they also warn that some people have thrown whole urns into the water.

The restrictions and confusion have led to Britons holding onto their loved ones’ cremated remains – three out of four people would keep a relative’s ashes up to a year. The most popular place to keep them is on the mantelpiece but more than one in five would choose the bedroom while one in 17 would store them in the attic, bathroom or garage.

More than one in eight people would opt for a display cabinet at home while a similar proportion want 
to turn the ashes into a memorial.

About 5% of people would like to have their ashes scattered abroad. According to Manchester Airport there are no restrictions on taking ashes out of the country but people are advised that they should carry the urn as hand luggage and inform customs staff to ensure it is handled with care. Passengers should also contact the airline, as there may be restrictions at the other end of the journey.

Burials at sea used to be the preserve of seamen, but more than one in 12 people ask that their ashes be scattered at sea or on rivers. A number of companies provide boats for hire to enable people to scatter ashes in water and although the Environment Agency says “ashes themselves have little impact on water quality” it also advises that other items should not be placed in the water with them.

Top 5 memorial items
for loved ones’ ashes:

  • Diamond / Jewellery
  • Sundial
  • Birdbath
  • Picture frame
  • Fireworks

Other unusual items were mobile phone covers and key rings.

Get more with a subscription.

Everything you need to know in the funeral industry. Get much more with a subscription to FSJ, from just £2.42 per month.


Share your thoughts...