Many people who choose cremation do so because they find comfort in the idea of returning "to dust," and cremation opens up many options for what can ultimately be done with the remains. Although scattering ashes in a natural place is a common wish, especially among those who appreciate the outdoors, there are many reasons to consider inurnment in a cremation garden cemetery.
- A final resting place gives mourners a place to visit. Many people take comfort in visiting a loved one's grave site on special dates each year, like their birthday or the anniversary of their passing. Having a place to pay a respect and sit with your memories is a time-honored part of the grieving process.
- Scattering may not be allowed in the place you have in mind. In general, you need permission of the property owner to scatter on their land. Many of the memorable outdoor locations around Colorado are either federal land or county open space, where regulations vary by jurisdiction.
- A typical cremation urn is sized for 200 cubic centimeters of material, much of which has been pulverized to a fine powder. The physical act of scattering ashes can be quite messy because of the dust. We want to envision a cremation scattering as a sacred return to the earth, but in practice it leaves behind a significant pile and can get dust on the participants.
- Another reason to avoid scattering is that sometimes other people find the remains. Cremated remains typically contain a metal identification disc from the crematory. In my past role as a funeral director, I sometimes took calls from members of the public who would find the disc and contact the crematory to find out more about the person. One washed up on the beach and the other was found along a popular hiking trail. While we think of scattering as a peaceful and private goodbye, it can actually raise new questions and bring inquisitive interest.
- The final reason to consider inurnment in a cremation garden is that cemeteries are for the living. A cemetery is a community resource, for grief but also for family traditions, history, and enjoying the great outdoors. A final resting place with a suitable marker is a gift to those we leave behind. In a conservation cemetery like Colorado Burial Preserve, your gift also protects native habitat from all future disturbances, contributing to a healthier ecosystem for generations to come.