By Published On: September 8th, 2021

5 Things to Know About What to Do with Cremains

A Comprehensive Guide Courtesy of Opal Cremation of Southern California

After the death of a loved one, there are many important decisions you have to make. You’ll need to make arrangements for a burial and/or local cremation. Planning a funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life for the deceased can be overwhelming. It’s natural to have questions. What kind of urn or casket should you get? What should you say in the eulogy? Should you arrange a burial or scatter the ashes in a meaningful place? It can be a stressful, uncertain time. If you decide on cremation, you have many options on what to do with the remains. But, there are rules, restrictions, laws, and guidelines you’ll need to follow. Here are five things you should know about what to do with cremated remains.


1. Local, State, and Federal Regulations

Some places have strict rules and regulations when it comes to scattering cremains. For instance, if you’re thinking of scattering ashes at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” you may want to think again. Disney Theme Parks strictly forbid the scattering of cremains anywhere in the park. It may seem like a nice gesture to leave the ashes of your scrappy uncle with the swashbuckling scallywags on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. However, you could be charged with a misdemeanor while your loved one’s ashes wind up in a HEPA filtered vacuum. At Disneyland and Disneyworld, there are cameras everywhere. They always know when someone tries to sneak and scatter ashes on a ride. They will immediately shut down the ride and vacuum the ashes so they don’t contaminate the area. So it’s best to bring your fond memories to Disney’s Theme Parks and leave the ashes at home. Instead, consider scattering cremated remains in accordance with local laws and regulations.

The Burial Permit

When it comes to scattering cremains, it’s all about location. The laws and regulations vary, not only from state to state, but also from area to area. So do some research on the guidelines at your desired spot for your loved one’s cremated remains. Every deceased person receives a Burial Permit, whether the plan is to bury or not. If you choose cremation, the permit will include an address or location for the remains. When cremains are scattered over water, the Burial Permit lists the county closest to the location of the scattering.

Scattering Ashes At Sea

Sprinkling the ashes of your sea-loving mother on the sparkling sea is a lovely idea. But there are a few things you should know before you set sail. The Environmental Protection Agency, requires that you keep your distance from the shore. The Federal Clean Water Act mandates that cremains be scattered at least three nautical miles from land. For rivers or lakes, you’ll need to get a permit from the state agency in charge of that particular body of water. After you scatter the ashes, you must notify the EPA within 30 days of the scattering.

memorial of stones among bamboo forest

Scattering Ashes At a National Park

A National Park might be the ideal spot for your loved one’s cremains. If so, you must get permission from the Park Superintendent to do so. California State Parks have a written statute allowing for the scattering of ashes. But it is ultimately up to the Park Superintendent. Some National Parks are more accommodating than others. No scatterings are permitted anywhere Native American remains have been discovered. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to secure the permits. The process usually takes about a week.

Scattering Ashes Over Land

Scattering ashes over land can be a bit more complex. California law requires you to get written permission from the property owner or land managing agency. Some prefer to scatter ashes by air, say, from an airplane. Cremains aren’t considered to be hazardous material, so this is allowed under federal law. But make sure you’re only dropping ashes. For safety reasons, be sure to remove the remains from the container before you drop them from the plane.


2. A Traditional Burial for Cremains

Cremations and burials are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many friends and family members opt to have cremated remains buried or placed in a mausoleum. There are noteworthy benefits to burying cremains versus burying a body. Burying cremains is more cost-effective, as it doesn’t require embalming a body or placing it in a large casket. It also saves space, whether that is in the ground or in a mausoleum. Additionally, you can have a traditional funeral service when you have the cremains entombed or buried. For families and friends who prefer to visit a gravesite in remembrance, it’s nice to have a burial spot. It all depends on the needs and preference of the family.


3. In Memoriam Keepsakes

Personal keepsakes are a great way to keep your loved one close after they pass away. Certain companies can press a small amount of cremains into pretty pebbles, perfect for sharing with family and friends. Jewelry is another way to keep your family member close to your heart. For a child who has lost a parent or close relative, cremains can be placed inside a comforting stuffed animal. Memorial ornaments make thoughtful remembrance gifts for grieving friends and family.


4. Tattoos

One new creative way to carry the memory of your departed loved one is to get a tattoo with a mixture of ashes and ink. The tattoo artist can mix a small amount of fine ashes, about a tablespoon or less, with the tattoo ink. It’s important that the ashes are a fine consistency, so they don’t clog the tattoo needle. Before you get a commemorative tattoo, be sure to consult with a licensed, experienced tattoo artist.  They’ll need to take proper precautions to make the process as safe as possible.


5. Choosing an Urn

Not all cremation urns are alike. There are a few important things to consider when selecting an urn for cremation remains. Urns come in a variety of materials, including wood, marble, ceramic, porcelain, granite, glass, copper, bronze, or brass. The best option for you depends on where you intend to keep it. Wood, for instance, would not be the most durable option if you’re displaying it outdoors. If you plan to bury the cremated remains, it’s best to stay away from brass urns. For a burial at sea, you can get environmentally friendly, biodegradable, water-soluble urns. These urns can float in water until they eventually decompose over time. Urns can be engraved with artwork or a personal message for a more meaningful touch. If you plan to travel with the remains, you’ll need a lightweight urn that can easily pass through the x-rays at the airport security checkpoint. These particular urns are made from transparent glass, cloth, plastic, or cardboard. Call your airline in advance to get their requirements for traveling with cremated remains.

Plan a Unique Memorial Celebration with Opal Cremation

Deciding what to do with cremated remains is a personal choice every family must make. But if you’re well-informed, the process can be less daunting and more fulfilling. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one. But having a plan that suits the needs of your family can provide peace and comfort during a difficult time.

Contact Opal Cremation of Southern California to plan the fondest farewell for your loved one.

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