Scattering Ashes on Grave without Permission
I want to discuss the argument around scattering ashes on a grave. This was brought into focus by a rather disturbing image that was sent to me from a cemetery manager, it shows how bad this can get. The second image is at the bottom and be warned it is not for the faint hearted!
It reminded me of a conversation, this is as close as I can get to an actual conversation I had recently with a member of the public.
‘I am going to scatter dad’s ashes on mum’s grave, thing is they told me I can’t.’
‘Against the rules apparently, firstly they don’t allow scattering on graves and if I wanted to bury him there there are loads of rules.’
‘Grave ownership is complicated’
‘Not if you go after hours, it is not, nip in, scatter, off you go, job done. He got what he wanted; no harm done.’
It is a good example of the problem. The public and the authority don’t see eye to eye on this. It gets under the collar of pretty much every crematory manager you speak to.
Who is right? Who is wrong? Is there a solution?
It might seem obvious that Joe public is wrong here, there are rules and they are being disobeyed. However, that mantra has existed for many years and does not seem to solve the problem or be a deterrent.
So, let’s look at it from the point of view of the cemetery manager
- They have an obligation to make the place look appealing for everyone, so indiscriminate scattering may cause issues around site aesthetics
- They have to follow the law when it comes to burial
- They are obliged to record the last resting place for the deceased on their land
- The services they provide attracts a cost for the up keep of the site
- It is their land so they get to say what can and can’t happen
From the point of view of Mr and Mrs Public
- There is no harm
- Too much red tape
- The authority just wants to say no
- There is no cost incurred so why should I pay
- Quick and simple
- I paid almost a thousand for the cremation I am not paying any more
- If I ask it will just cause problems
Put these to together and problems are likely to occur, even with the best will in the world there is never going to be harmony, but surely, we can make the situation better.
Burial law is old and grave ownership is complicated and cemetery owners need to comply with the law, no getting away from that.
Explaining that upkeep is a burden that needs to be recouped is always difficult and people do say to me – that should be within the cremation cost (and often it is if the person was cremated there).
How do you solve it?
So, what I suggest won’t please everyone, when there is conflict it means compromise and that is unconscionable to many, here are a few thoughts;
Allow scattering with certain provisos
Make it easier in terms of paperwork
Put notices up about do’s and don’ts
Only charge a registration fee and make this minimal
Communicate this through the Emails, paperwork and Funeral directors
If there is a scattering use the Living Memorial soil to integrate it into the earth
As I said I am going to end on a slight horror story. The above picture was given to me anonymously as a classic example of poor behaviour. A member of the public sneaks in over night to scatter the ashes of a loved one… nothing new there I hear you say, true, but this family went a little bit further than most when it came to last remains.
Scroll down if you wish but believe me it is not for the faint hearted. Moral of the story, work together, communicate, do right by the deceased…
Keep Scrolling (I am doing this so you can’t say weren’t warned)
See… not good!