What you choose to do with the “cremains” after a cremation is truly a personal decision. Some families keep the ashes in a sealed urn on the mantelpiece or special spot in the garden. Some bury the ashes in a traditional cemetery or inurn them in a columbarium. Some press the cremains into jewelry keepsakes. And some release the ashes to the environment, scattering them in one or more locations that were meaningful to the deceased.

Are you thinking of a once-and-done ceremony? Would any family member want to keep some cremains for him/herself? Are there multiple locations that would be meaningful for the deceased and the family? If you move out of the area, would it be comforting to be able to scatter ashes in this new location, too? Keep in mind that you don’t have release all the ashes at one time. Scattering in multiple locations, either now or in the future, is certainly a possibility.

If you decide to split up the ashes to be able to store and/or scatter in multiple locations, be aware that there will be bones. Inside the box, you will find a plastic bag of coarse, sand-sized, bone fragments that actually look nothing like ashes. The reality of handling the cremains in this way can trigger strong emotions, so you may want to ask a close friend who isn’t so directly related to help you transfer the ashes into a sealable plastic bag, either supporting you through the process or taking over the transfer entirely.

If you will be traveling by plane to your destination, pack the cremains in your carry-on, not in your checked luggage where they could miss the flight or be routed to the wrong destination. No special permit is required, but ensure that the ashes are not stored in a metal or heavy earthenware container that prevent the contents from being x-rayed

Scout the site before the actual scattering. Even if you have a perfect place in mind, the ambiance in reality could be different due to construction, public events taking place, or any number of things. So build in time to scout alternative locations, should that be necessary.

If you’re releasing ashes into a body of water, doing so in tandem with fresh destemmed flowers enables you to visually follow the ash flow and adds some beauty to the ceremony. If you take pictures of the flowers and ash floating on the water, relatives who aren’t able to be present will be able to share the experience.

As a practical matter, stand upwind when the ashes are released, for obvious reasons. Ash will also stick to skin, so bring a bottle of water and towel for clean up afterwards, in case that is necessary.