What is an Interment of Ashes? How To Plan A Service And Poems To Share

Saying goodbye to a family member or cherished friend will always be difficult. But finding the time to say goodbye alongside those closest to you may help you to find closure.

If the deceased opted for cremation and gave instructions for where they would like to be scattered, then the surviving family are required by law to carry out these wishes. If the deceased left no instructions, you may have to decide between close family how to properly memorialise their life.

Interment of ashes is a popular choice following cremation. Cremation is a cheaper option as it does not require purchasing a plot in a cemetery. Once the remains are cremated, the ashes are returned to the family and they can choose the next steps.

The most common steps after receiving the ashes are:

  • Keeping the ashes in an urn at home

  • Burying the ashes

  • Scattering the ashes

  • Adding the ashes to a keepsake such as a necklace for ashes

If you choose to scatter all or part of the ashes, it is common to hold a ceremony called an interment of ashes. This is when close friends and family gather to say their final goodbyes and scatter or bury the ashes in a beloved spot.

What happens at an interment of ashes?

Interment of ashes is typically an informal gathering at the site where the ashes will be scattered or buried. It is typically a smaller crowd than you would find at a funeral.

Interment of ashes is a time to say final goodbyes, and this could be through quiet reflection or through poems and religious readings. How you structure your interment is entirely up to you and there is no set programme you need to follow.

An interment is often organised between the closest family and friends, so you don’t need to stick to a schedule or follow any rules. However, many people find that creating a schedule for the day can help as it removes some of the decisions left to be made.

Before scattering or burying the ashes, you might want to say a few words, recite a poem, or ask a religious leader from your community to say a few words. The deceased may have left instructions for how they wish the ceremony to be completed.

Where can you scatter ashes in the UK?

You can scatter ashes in most places in the UK, provided you get permission from the landowner before going ahead. Scattering ashes on private land is a popular choice as it means you may be able to enjoy some privacy while you carry out the ceremony.

May crematoriums and churches offer a space where you can scatter the ashes within the grounds. You may also be able to place a small wall or floor plaque or dedicate a tree or shrub to your loved one in the crematorium grounds.

It’s also common to head out into nature to scatter a loved one’s ashes. This could include heading to the beach, a lake or river, up a mountain or in a national park. If the land is privately owned or part of a national park, it’s a good idea to get permission before you plan your ceremony.

You could also choose somewhere closer to home. It’s very common to scatter ashes in a back garden or bury them under a tree close to your home. This will allow you to feel close to your loved one at all times, without keeping the urn in your home.

Do you have to scatter all of the ashes?

No, you don’t have to scatter all of the ashes unless it has been specified in the person’s will. It’s common for families to disagree about where to place the ashes, so they might split them to allow for family members to arrange their own memorials.

It’s also common to reserve a small amount of the ashes to place in a piece of jewellery or a similar keepsake. We offer ashes jewellery in precious metals and glass along with glass memorials, including wall art and ornaments.

You could also scatter some of the ashes and keep some in your home. Eventually, you might decide you wish to scatter all of the ashes, but there is no rush to make this decision. Take your time and do what feels right for your situation.

If the person hasn’t left instructions, it can be difficult to know what to do with their ashes. The good news is that there is no rush to decide the next steps. You can take your time and plan an interment of ashes when you feel comfortable.

What do you wear to the interment of ashes?

While it is a formal occasion, you may wish to dress more casually than you might for a funeral. Your loved one may have left instructions for how they wish guests to dress. Sometimes individuals request bright colours and casual attire for the interment rather than the usual black formalwear.

If you are planning to hike to a beauty spot, you will need to wear appropriate clothing for the terrain and the weather. The same goes for the interment of ashes held on a boat or by the sea. Since it is an informal occasion, you can decide on the dress code yourself.

What is the difference between interment and burial?

What is the difference between interment and burial?

Interment of ashes is a ceremony to scatter the ashes or bury the ashes. It is different to burial as the individual is cremated first. Scattering the ashes typically takes place after the funeral. There is no schedule for the interment to take place, and sometimes individuals choose not to scatter the ashes at all.

A burial is when the coffin and the body are buried in a cemetery plot. The burial is the funeral, but with the interment of ashes, a funeral is a separate event. A burial is over much more quickly, and you will have a grave marker to visit. With an interment of ashes, you might not have a grave marker but you will have a special place you can visit.

How to organise an interment of ashes

Planning an interment of ashes should not be difficult, but the added stress of planning while trying to grieve might make the process feel more difficult. Here are the steps you need to carry out when planning an interment of ashes.

  1. Check their will or end of life instructions. They may have left instructions for how they want the day to go. For example, they may wish for their ashes to be scattered on their birthday, one year after their death, or on another significant date. They might also have specified where they would like their ashes to be scattered.

  2. Choose your spot. If there are no instructions, you will need to decide between your close family members where you would like to scatter the ashes. If there are disagreements, consider splitting the ashes to accommodate everyone’s wishes.

  3. Decide if you want to keep some ashes. Before you scatter all of the ashes, you might wish to reserve some to add to a piece of jewellery or other mementoes. Only a teaspoon is needed for most keepsakes.

  4. Choose the date. If you are scattering the ashes soon after the funeral, you may need to confirm with the crematorium when you can expect to receive the ashes. If you are waiting for a special date, you will need to decide where you will store the ashes while you wait for the date.

  5. Choose who to invite. The interment of ashes is typically reserved for those closest to the deceased. You might decide to limit this to family only, or simply to those who were closest to the deceased. To avoid offending anyone, avoid sharing the information on a site like Facebook. Instead, invite people individually.

  6. Plan the order of service. Will you have a religious blessing? Read poems? Invite individuals to say a few words? Or simply have a moment of quiet reflection? The order of service for the day doesn’t have to be formal, but it can help to have a plan in place.

  7. Choose your readings or music. You can choose from religious texts, popular poems or even just play a song. Choose something that will bring comfort to those present and give them a framework to say goodbye. The point of the interment of ashes is to give everyone present an opportunity to find closure. The readings and music should help them to achieve this.

  8. Prepare for the day. You may need to arrange transportation or boat hire to reach the location where you are scattering the ashes. Keep a close eye on the weather so you can dress accordingly.

  9. Keep the rest of the day simple. After the interment of ashes, some people would much rather be alone, while others find it is an ideal opportunity to share stories about their loved ones. You could arrange an informal gathering at home, a cafe or a restaurant to give everyone the chance to catch up after scattering the ashes. Keeping this informal will ensure anyone who is struggling with the day can leave without feeling rude.

  10. Preserve their memory. You might want to arrange to have cremation jewellery made for everyone present at the interment, or you could arrange for a memorial bench to be placed at the site. Preserving the memory or finding a way to document the day will allow you to look back on the very difficult day in the future and find the beauty in saying goodbye properly.

Poems for the interment of ashes

If you’re struggling for inspiration for the interment of ashes ceremony, these are some of the most popular funeral and interment of ashes poems to consider. Reciting a poem may be easier than writing a speech, but can be just as touching and will bring comfort to those present.

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

By Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.


Let Me Go

By Christina Rossetti

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me

I want no rites in a gloom filled room

Why cry for a soul set free?


Miss me a little, but not for long

And not with your head bowed low

Remember the love that once we shared

Miss me, but let me go.


For this is a journey we all must take

And each must go alone.

It's all part of the master plan

A step on the road to home.


When you are lonely and sick at heart

Go to the friends we know.

Laugh at all the things we used to do

Miss me, but let me go.


Don't Cry For Me

By Deborah Garcia Gaitan

Don't cry for me.

I will be okay.

Heaven is my home now,

and this is where I'll stay.


Don't cry for me.

I'm where I belong.

I want you to be happy

and try to stay strong.


Don't cry for me.

It was just my time,

but I will see you someday

on the other side.


Don't cry for me.

I am not alone.

The angels are with me

to welcome me home.


Don't cry for me,

for I have no fear.

All my pain is gone,

and Jesus took my tears.


Don't cry for me.

This is not the end.

I'll be waiting here for you

when we meet again.