The Difference Between Trenching, Raking, and Casting Cremains

Cremation offers endless benefits to families of loved ones, including the ability to be as creative as desired when scattering cremains. Most people know very little about how to scatter cremains outside of what they’ve seen in the movies and on television, but fortunately, the sky is literally the limit when it comes to your options.

Saying goodbye to your loved one can be difficult, but knowing the difference between common ash-scattering methods can help you determine the best way for you and your family to orchestrate the final farewell. Here are descriptions about common ash-scattering methods, including trenching, raking, and casting, as well as water- and air-scattering methods.

Trenching is when you dig a hole of trench into the ground, and place the cremains directly into the trench. At the end of the goodbye ceremony, family members rake over the trench to cover the ashes. Some families like to practice trenching at their loved one’s favorite spot, such as a garden, beach, lake, or backyard, and light candles in a circle around the trench site as part of the ceremony. You could also trace your loved one’s name in the dirt or sand, and take photos to commemorate the event. At the end of the ceremony, the candles are distributed among friends and family members as a keepsake.

Raking involves pouring your loved one’s cremains from an urn evenly across loose soil, then raking the cremains into the ground at the end of the ceremony. When practicing the raking technique, it’s important that you keep the urn close to the ground when pouring to prevent the wind from blowing cremains in all directions. At the end of the ceremony, family members and close friends can take turns raking the cremains into the ground.

Casting is when you scatter cremains by tossing or throwing them into the wind. Casting is most successful when you toss cremains downwind, so you may want to perform a casting ceremony when the weather is agreeable. When casting cremains downwind, most of the ashes will fall onto the ground while lighter particles may blow in the wind and form a white-gray cloud. During a casting ceremony, your family can either take turns casting cremains directly from the urn, or distribute cremains evenly using paper cups. Each family member can then cast the cremains in their own unique way or cast them together at the same time in a toasting gesture.

Water Scattering
Water scattering is when cremains are scattered into a body of water such as a lake, river, or ocean. When scattering cremains into the water, it’s important to store the cremains in a biodegradable urn or container to avoid having ashes blow back into your face or wash up and stick to the side of the boat. For the best experience, you may want to hire a boating service that has experience with water scattering so they can arrange for you to have a pleasant, seamless experience when saying goodbye to your loved one on the water.

Air Scattering
Air scattering is when cremains are scattered into the air via airplane. Today, there are many pilots and air services that specialize in air scattering and are professionally trained to handle and scatter your loved one’s ashes. Depending on the service and pilot, you may be able to watch from the ground as the cremains are scattered, or you might even be able to ride on the airplane with your loved one’s cremains. If your loved one’s wishes included having their ashes scattered by plane, and no surviving family members are available for the ceremony, the pilot or air service can provide you and your family with the exact time and date of the air-scattering ceremony.

For more information about cremation services, please contact Heartland Cremation. With four generations of experience in the funeral and cremation business, we provide the Kansas City area with simple, worry-free cremation services that will treat your loved one with all the dignity and respect that they deserve.

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