Mondays with the Mortician: Cremation requires planning

Published 9:12 am Monday, April 13, 2015

Eric Weerts

Mondays with the Mortician

Over the years, I have been asked about cremation by my own family, friends, and the families I have served. The questions vary from, “What happens during the cremation process,” to “Can I have a viewing if I want to be cremated?” Sometimes, I get the question, “What are some of the options for scattering cremated remains?”

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The final place of rest for cremated remains is personal to each family based upon a variety of factors including religion, history, and wishes of the decedent. There are religions that prefer that the all cremated remains be in one contained place, such as a burial space. Some families even have a long standing tradition of ashes being spread in a certain place. However, it is up to the family to decide what their deceased loved one would have wanted.

Cremated remains are considered non-hazardous and can practically be scattered anywhere that is fitting of the deceased. The State of Minnesota does not have specific laws on scattering on public property such as lakes. However, Minnesota law does state that you cannot scatter on Native American burial ground. In regards to personally or family owned property, you can scatter cremated remains on private property. When families ask about this option, I mention they can do what they prefer, however, I urge them to exercise caution with this option. Property can be sold to someone who is not family for a multitude of reasons.

When you visit a cemetery, there is a marker and a place of burial. If you scatter, there is not a contained place on the property for family and friends to honor and pay respects to. A way to rectify the scattering situation on private property is to place a rock-like marker with a nameplate in the area where the scattering was done. Yet if the property is ever sold, the new landowner can always remove that marker. Which is an issue that I have seen arise throughout my career.

It is okay to choose a unique final resting place for you or your loved one’s cremated remains. Every family is different in the way they handle the final resting place of a loved one. However, it is paramount to make sure that proper thought and discussion go into choosing the final place of rest for a cremated loved one.

Eric Weerts is one of the funeral directors at Mayer Funeral Home.