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5 Beautiful Reasons to Plant a Memory Tree

a living tribute tree

Throughout history, trees have represented life and the fundamental elements of existence. They provide shelter, fruit, and fuel. We nurture trees and receive nourishment in return. From children’s stories like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to the parables of Jesus, trees remain a symbol of life and connection. 

In this article, we look at five beautiful reasons to plant a memory tree in honor of your loved one.

1. Memory Trees Represent Hope

Bible verse text for Psalm 1:3 (ESV)

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:3 (ESV)

A palm tree in the desert or an old oak along an abandoned road instantly evokes strong emotions. We think of rest, security, and relief. Trees serve as landmarks, shelter, and sustenance for weary travelers. They offer nourishment — which is why they are often used in stories that involve physical or spiritual comfort. Trees represent hope.

Often, trees appear at moments of transformation. Many mythologies place trees at pivotal moments in the story. Sometimes, anthropomorphic trees speak. Other times, their tall trunks and long branches point heavenward. In most instances, the upward reach of tree branches reminds people of their journey to something higher.

Finally, trees recall the process of resurrection. A tiny seed, buried in the earth, bursts forth into a tall, strong trunk with waving branches. This symbolic victory over death appears throughout religious literature, including Christianity. In the Bible, almost every major figure has a tree linked to their story in some way—from Noah receiving the olive branch to Moses in front of the burning bush. Additionally, Jesus’ earthly existence symbolically interconnects with trees from his childhood to his death and ultimately, his resurrection. 

2. Memorial Trees Help the Environment

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think I shall never see
A Poem as lovely as a tree.

From Trees by Joyce Kilmer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trees_(poem)

Trees benefit the natural world. They clean our air — absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Wildlife makes their homes in trees and forests rely on tree root systems for nourishment. They also help clean water and give nutrients back into the soil. 

The relationship of giving to and receiving from the earth can continue when you plant a memory tree. This living memorial will create a home for wildlife, clean the air, and add nutrients to the surrounding soil. 

3. Trees Celebrate the Natural World

Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…

Proverbs 11:30 (ESV)

Planting trees to honor someone’s life has become such a meaningful gift and one that truly represents the Cycle of Life. As one life ends, something new grows from the loss. Planting trees lets you express your sympathy while also celebrating the natural world. 

Season to season and year after year, the tree will endure and grow stronger. As it blossoms with life, your loved one’s memorial will celebrate the natural world. 

4. Memory Trees Create a Personal Moment

Special Garden Poem

There’s a very special garden
Where the trees of memory grow
Nurtured by the kindness
And concern that good friends show. 
The roots are cherished memories
Of good times in the past
The branches tender promises
That souls endure and last. 

Author Unknown, Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/23714335525454905/

Twice each year, we open our secluded, private garden to visitors so they may visit their loved one’s memorial. During this time, our guests walk through nature and enjoy the serene setting. When they visit a memory tree, they have an opportunity to partake in a personal moment of reflection.

Standing before a thriving memory tree, our guests can listen to the rustling of leaves and feel at peace with their beloved’s passing. 

5. Memory Trees Become a Living Memorial

When We Lose Someone Poem

When we lose someone we love
We must learn
Not to live without them, 
But to live
With the love they left behind.

Anonymous, Source: ​​https://healingbrave.com/blogs/all/grief-quotes-love-never-dies

Planting a memory tree creates beautiful remembrance of a person’s life. Year after year, the tree will stand tall against the backdrop of the changing seasons. In the fall, orange and red leaves from the surrounding landscape will frame the tree. During the wintertime, squirrels may explore the dormant limbs. Throughout the spring, birds will nest among the budding branches as wildflowers grow on the nearby mountains. The sun will shine upon the rustling leaves throughout the summer, casting lovely shadows across the memorial stone at the tree’s base. 

In the same way that your loved one’s legacy changed and grew throughout their time on this earth, their memory tree will illustrate the seasons of their life.

Plant a Memory Tree in the Blue Ridge Mountains

To commemorate a loved one’s life, we will plant a Memory Tree to serve as a living tribute that could stand for hundreds of years. The memory tree will be planted near our secluded Scattering Garden in Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. After placing your order, you may choose an evergreen or deciduous tree.

We will respectfully scatter the ashes during the planting process, and place an engraved, personalized memorial stone beneath their Memory Tree. A Memory Tree can also be planted without the ashes of a loved one. (Some families simply want a living memorial to stand for their loved one.)  

You will be able to visit the tree when we open our grounds for Days of Celebration. We hold these twice a year: once in the spring, and again in the fall…when the site is at its most beautiful.
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about planting memory trees. Call us at 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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5 Beautiful Reasons to Plant a Memory Tree
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Prayers, Poems, and Bible Verses to Read When you Visit a Memorial Tree

best memorial trees

Memorial trees have become a lovely way to honor someone’s legacy. Our memory trees are situated on our secluded, private property—recognized by the County and permanently safe from development. The location is not set up for day-to-day traffic. So, we open the property twice a year for a special “Day of Celebration”. 

Once in the spring, and again in the fall, we invite friends and family members to visit their loved one’s memorial tree on our property. It’s a meaningful time to visit, remember and reflect.

Table of Contents

Prayers of Remembrance
Poems about Loss
Bible Verses about Heaven

During our celebration days, family members often mark the moment with a few private words of remembrance. We’ve collected some popular prayers, poems, and Bible verses that you may like to read when you visit a memory tree.

Prayers of Remembrance

You can repeat these prayers of remembrance as you visit your loved one’s final resting place. They offer hope and recall the promise of new life. 

Photo of quote, reading, you must not grieve so sorely, For I love you dearly still...

Safely Home


by Anonymous
Source: https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/safely-home

I am home in heaven, dear ones;
All’s so happy, all so bright!
There’s perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.
All the pain and grief are over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in heaven at last.
Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the Valley of the Shade?
Oh! but Jesus’ love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.
And He came Himself to meet me
On that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?
Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s will.
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idle stand;
Do your work while life remaineth —
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of the meeting!
Oh, the joy to see you come!

Quote stating, it broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone, a part of us went with you, the day God called you home.

May You Always Walk in Sunshine

By Anonymous
Source: https://www.funeralprogram-site.com/funeral-prayers-english/may-you-always-walk-in-sunshine/

May you always walk in sunshine and 
God’s love around you flow,
for the happiness you gave us, 
no one will ever know, 
it broke our hearts to lose you, 
but you did not go alone, 
a part of us went with you, 
the day God called you home. 
A million times we’ve needed you. 
A million times we’ve cried. 
If love could only have saved you. 
You never would have died. 
The Lord be with you 
And may you rest in peace. Amen.

Photo of Quote, God be in my head, and in my understanding...

God Be in My Head

Attributed to Old Sarum Primer
Source: https://acollectionofprayers.com/2016/06/22/god-be-in-my-head/ 

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing.

Poems about Loss

We’ve collected several meaningful poems that reflect on love and loss. 

Photo of Quote stating, Life is but a stopping place, a pause in what's to be, a resting place along the road, to sweet eternity.

Poem of Life

By Anonymous
Source: https://www.creative-funeral-ideas.com/life-poem.html

Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what’s to be,
A resting place along the road, to sweet eternity.
We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way,
We all were meant to learn some things, but never meant to stay…
Our destination is a place,
Far greater than we know.
For some the journey’s quicker,
For some the journey’s slow.
And when the journey finally ends,
We’ll claim a great reward,
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the Lord

Photo of Quote stating I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun of happy memories that I leave behind when day is done.

Afterglow

By Helen Lowrie Marshall
Source: https://www.memorialstationery.com.au/funeral-wordings-popular-prayers.html

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun of happy memories
that I leave behind when day is done.

Photo of Quote reading who has seen the wind?

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Christina Rosetti
Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43197/who-has-seen-the-wind

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Bible Verses about Heaven

These Bible verses about heaven offer the comfort of a future reunion with those we love. 

Photo of Bible Verse for 1 Corinthians 2:9

1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV)

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Photo of Bible verse for John 14:3-4

John 14:3-4 (ESV)

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.

Photo of Bible verse for Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Visiting Memorial Trees

Although our property is closed to the public throughout the year, our visitors enjoy the chance to visit and reflect during our “Days of Celebration.” These visits often become a family tradition and a chance to process their loss together. 

If you are looking for a spot to put your loved one’s ashes to rest, you can plant a memory tree. Our beautiful mountaintop property overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains and portions of the James River. These memorial trees celebrate the unique lives of people who have passed. You can select this service through our website. Then, we’ll call to discuss the type of tree you’d like to plant (evergreen and deciduous options are available).

After you confirm your selection, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. If you prefer, for an additional fee, we offer a personal pickup service. 

Upon receiving your loved one’s ashes, we scatter them reverently during the planting process. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the base of the tree. Finally, we send you a Certificate of Release. This keepsake notes the date and location of the scattering. 
We’re here to provide comfort and relief to you during your time of loss. If you are interested in planting a memorial tree, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Memory Gardens & Celebration of Life Ideas

Virginia Ash Burial Service

Our experiences through Rest Ashured illustrate how much people need a personal way to say goodbye. Often, we hear that our clients plan their own ceremony, complete with readings and music that honor the life of their loved ones. They may hold it in a religious building, an informal venue, or even in a location that their loved one adored. After their special ceremony, they appreciate our simple and respectful process — where we scatter cremation ashes in our scattering garden in an unattended ceremony. From the actual memorial ceremony to the final goodbye when they send us their loved one’s ashes, our clients appreciate the personal touch offered by a memory garden.

Table of Contents

Differences from a Funeral Service
Planning a Celebration of Life
The Final Goodbye

Over time, people have begun to favor Celebration of Life ceremonies over traditional funerals. These memorial services are intimate, and often less formal, than mourning rituals of the past. Memory gardens, in particular, allow people a beautiful place to lay their loved ones to rest following their celebration of life ceremony. The verdant setting illustrates the hope of life after death.

Differences from a Funeral Service

Celebration of life ceremonies differ from funeral services in several ways. First, celebrations of life are generally more intimate and may take place in an informal setting. For example, you might choose to hold the ceremony in the loved one’s place of worship or a location of special meaning to them. This changes the tone from a funeral home service to one limited to family and close friends. 

Second, celebrations of life have no particular order of service. Often, they are planned around personalized readings, music, or activities. By contrast, most funeral directors will guide services through specific stages, such as a prelude, introduction, prayers or readings, and a eulogy. If you are planning a celebration of life, you can organize the proceedings around a few intimate moments that reflect on your loved one’s memory.

Finally, celebrations of life have no particular send-off for your loved one’s remains. Traditional funerals typically end with a formal transition where a coffin or urn is carried out. Then, the most intimate members of the funeral party immediately follow the remains to their resting place. 

If you’re organizing a celebration of life, you’ll need to plan how you are laying your loved one to rest. For a cremation funeral, you may even choose to keep the ashes on display for some time. For our clients, we find people appreciate this flexible timeline. They can keep the ashes until they are ready to lay them to rest. Then, they send the ashes to us for a final goodbye.

Planning a Celebration of Life

When you’re planning a celebration of life, a theme creates a focus for the event. Many times, people choose a song, special location, or a quote to center the ceremony. If you are planning to have your loved one’s ashes scattered in our memory garden, you can make the memory garden a focus of your celebration of life ceremony. 

If you choose our scattering garden, you can explain to the attendees where your loved one’s remains will be put to rest after the ceremony: on a lush mountaintop among the beauty of nature. Weave that peaceful, life-bringing image into your mourning process. 

As you’re planning a celebration of life, you’ll also need to make provisions for the following areas.

The Invitations

Start by considering who will be invited to the celebration of life. Collect the appropriate contact information and keep the list available for anyone coordinating invites. This will make it easier to confirm who is attending.

The Ceremony

For the actual celebration of life ceremony, you can plan around what works best for your group. Some considerations include:

  • Where and when will the event take place?
  • Who will conduct the ceremony?
  • Who will speak during the ceremony? 
  • What music would you like to include?
  • How will you decorate for the ceremony?
  • Will there be food or beverages afterward?

Each of these questions will help you plan a personal, yet organized event.

The Activities

Many people enjoy a group activity during a celebration of life. This may be as simple as signing a keepsake, reciting a reading together, or participating in a symbolic moment. From lighting candles to singing a song, guests enjoy memory-making moments. 

Memory Gardens

For those looking for a place to put their loved ones to rest, we offer an unattended ash scattering ceremony. Our serene scattering garden overlooks the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and portions of the James River. It’s a glorious garden of memories — celebrating the unique lives of people who have passed.

Whether you want to send your ashes immediately after the celebration of life ceremony or wait for some time, we’re here to support you. 

After you confirm your selection, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. If you prefer, we offer a personal pickup service for an additional fee. 

Upon receiving your loved one’s ashes, we scatter them reverently on our mountaintop garden. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the site. Finally, we send you a Certificate of Release. This keepsake notes the date and location of the scattering. 

We’re here to provide comfort and relief to you during your time of loss. If you are interested in our scatter garden, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Prayers, Poems, and Bible Verses to Read for a Cremation Funeral

Virginia Ash Memorials

Today, funerals can be adapted to a variety of formats. With a cremation funeral, people often choose to hold a memorial service or celebration of life separate from scattering ashes. These may be formal, such as in a church or hall. Or they may be informal, and take place in a location of special significance to family and friends. 

Regardless of location and format, it can be hard to know what to say. 

In this post, we provide several prayers, poems, and Bible verses that you can say at a cremation memorial service. 

Table of Contents

What to Say at a Cremation Funeral
Memorial Prayers
Poems to Say Goodbye
Bible Verses for Funerals

What to Say at a Cremation Funeral

A beautiful memorial speaks to the life of a person and their impact on the world around them. Often, it can be hard to summarize these sentiments in a single statement. Let the following prayers, poems, and Bible Verses inspire your heartfelt message.

Memorial Prayers

Each of these prayers can provide hope and comfort during a memorial ceremony. 

Protection Prayer by James Freeman

Protection Prayer 
By James Freeman
Source

The Light of God surrounds me. 
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me. 
The Presence of God watches over me.
The Mind of God guides me.
The Life of God flows through me.
The Laws of God direct me.
The Power of God Abides within me.
The Joy of God uplifts me.
The Strength of God renews me.
The Beauty of God inspires me. 
Wherever I am, God is!

Irish blessing for a memorial service

Irish Blessing
By Anonymous
Source

May the road rise to meet you, 
and the wind always be at your back. 
May the sun shine warm on your face 
and the rains fall softly on your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
may God hold you gently 
in the palm of his hand.

Sunny Skies poem for a cremation funeral

Sunny Skies
By Anonymous
Source

All sunny skies would be too bright, 
All morning hours mean too much light, 
All laughing days too gay a strain; 
There must be clouds, and night, and rain, 
And shut-in days, to make us see
The beauty of life’s tapestry.

Poems to Say Goodbye

Often, people choose to say goodbye to a loved one with a poem that recalls the impact of their life. 

A Poem to Read for a Cremation Funeral, If I should go

If I should Go
By Anonymous
Source

If I should go tomorrow
It would never be goodbye,
For I have left my heart with you,
So don’t you ever cry.
The love that’s deep within me,
Shall reach you from the stars,
You’ll feel it from the heavens,
And it will heal the scars.

Poem - Warm Summer Sun by Mark Twain

Warm Summer Sun
by  Mark Twain
Source

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Poem - Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay 
by Robert Frost
Source

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Bible Verses for Funerals

Often, Bible verses about life and the afterlife provide comfort during memorial services. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 - For everything there is a season

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (ESV)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Psalm 23 - The Lord is my shepherd

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell  in the house of the Lord
forever.

Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Matthew 11:28 - Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11: 28-30 (ESV)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How to Say Goodbye During a Memorial Service

When the time comes, it can be difficult to say goodbye. The beauty of memorial services is that they give us a special moment to mark this transition. Your grief does not end with the ceremony, but your remembrance and honor of a well-lived life can begin there.

Graphic: What to Read During a Cremation Funeral Service

Our Ash Scattering Garden

At Rest Ashured, we help people say goodbye to their loved ones. Our property contains a cremation ash scatter garden overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the James River. 

For those looking for a place to put the ashes of their loved ones to rest, we offer an unattended ash scattering ceremony

First, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. (We also provide personal pickup for an additional fee.) 

When we receive the ashes, we scatter them reverently on our mountaintop garden. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the site. Finally, we send you a keepsake Certificate of Release, noting the date and location of the placement. 

We’re here to make the process as smooth as possible. If you are interested in our scatter garden, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Important Steps to Take After the Loss of a Loved One

Photo of Last Bill and Testament
Photo of 32 Things You Must Do After Someone Dies
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Whether a loved one’s death is sudden or expected, many people are overwhelmed by the process of facilitating their departure. You will need to determine their final wishes and do your best to honor their memory. This includes personal details like arranging their memorial as well as practical processes like initiating probate.  If you’re working with a funeral planning service, this list prepares you for the documents they’ll need.

Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

After your loved one passes away, access their living quarters. Try to find important documents such as a last testament and will, financial documents, and other important records. These will help you as you go through the process.

As Soon as Possible

Each of these tasks must be done as soon as possible.

1. Get a Pronouncement of Death

A pronouncement of death is a ritual performed at the time of someone’s passing. If the family is present, the pronouncement gives permission to grieve. In a hospital setting, this is usually performed by the doctor or nurse providing care. If someone dies outside a hospital, an EMT, firefighter, or police officer may declare death. 

This individual records the time and it becomes the official time of death on their certificate. This is an important legal step that begins the process of putting someone to rest.

2. Arrange for Organ Donation

Medical professionals at a hospital will identify a potential candidate for donation. If appropriate, they will approach you about your loved one’s status. When your loved one has registered as an organ donor, you will be notified at the appropriate time. If they are not registered, you will be asked to provide consent. This happens in the hospital and the donation coordinator will assist you during the process. 

Learn More about How Organ Donation works at organdonor.gov/about/process.

3. Notify Friends and Family

This notification usually takes two forms. First, an information notification happens immediately when you contact your family and friends. Most people call text, or email with an initial update. 

Later, most people choose to send a formal message. Below are a few decisions you’ll need to make. 

  • Choose a Medium: Most people write a post on social media, send an email, mail a letter.
  • Express sympathy: Your message should contain an expression of sympathy for everyone’s loss. 
  • Declare Details: Include important details about how your loved one passed and how their life will be memorialized.

See Sample Letters and Messages HERE. This should be sent to anyone who should be notified before a formal obituary.

4. Arrange Care of Dependents and Pets

Often, a person expresses their wishes for dependents and pets in a living will. If they have not, you’ll need to contact the appropriate organizations to arrange their care.

  • For Children: If the child has no other legal guardian, your state’s child protective services. They will work with you to arrange care.  
  • For Other Dependents: If your loved one leaves behind an adult dependent, you must contact your state’s adult protective services. They will assist you with the arrangements.
  • For Pets: Your local humane society can assist you with rehoming a pet. 

5. Call Your Loved One’s Employer

Contact your loved one’s Human Resources department to let them know of their death. You can call or send an email. They will ask you for additional information for their records. 

6. Secure Large Property (eg: house, car)

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to secure your loved one’s large property. Make sure their car is parked in an appropriate and safe location. Check their house to make sure the doors and windows are locked. Also, make a note of who has additional keys and decide if they should still have access to these areas. 

7. Decide What you Will Do With the Remains

Your loved one’s living will may provide insight into what they would like to do with their remains. Some people provide explicit instructions and may have even pre-paid for a funeral planning service. If so, follow their instructions and contact the appropriate service providers.

If your loved one did not plan, you will need to choose between several options, including:

  • Ground Burial
  • Water Burial
  • Cremation

8. Arrange for Transportation of the Body

Depending on your choice, you will need to direct the remains from the morgue to the appropriate funeral planning service provider. This might be a funeral home, a crematorium, or a mausoleum. 

Within a Few Days

These tasks must be finished within a few days of your loved one’s passing.

9. Arrange for a Funeral or Burial

Now that you have chosen the method of your memorial, you’ll need to work with your service provider to arrange for a funeral or burial. You’ll need to decide on the location for the memorial service and where you are putting the remains to rest. 

  • If you are doing a ground burial, you will work with a funeral home. They can hold the services at their location and help you with interment in a cemetery. You can also work with them to hold the service at another location (like a church) and transfer the body to the cemetery. In the U.S. these services usually take place 3 to 7 days after death. If you choose a natural or green burial, the timeline is shorter.
  • If you are doing a water burial, you’ll need to work with a service provider that performs these ceremonies. Typically, they are held on a ship and the remains are buried in the ocean as part of the ceremony. These follow a similar timeline as a funeral but are dependent on the weather.
  • If you are cremating your loved one, you can ask a funeral home or a crematorium to perform the service. Often, this is called a direct cremation. Then, you can choose to hold a memorial service with the funeral home or plan one yourself. With cremation, you do have some extra time to arrange a service.

10. Order a Casket, Urn, or Scattering Service

You must choose the appropriate vessel for your loved one’s remains. If you are doing a ground or water burial, you will need to order a casket. The funeral home or another service provider can help you order this. If you choose cremation, you can order an urn or simply use the box provided by the crematorium. Most of the time, people order an urn if they plan to display their loved one’s remains for some time. If you are scattering them shortly after the cremation, you can keep them in the original packaging.

11. Get their Mail Forwarded

Forward your loved one’s mail through the US Postal Service at https://www.usps.com/manage/mail-for-deceased.htm. They have a simple online form that takes you through several steps. 

Also, you should contact DMAchoice.org to register them on the Deceased Do Not Contact List (DDNC). Within 3 months of registering, advertising mail should decrease.

12. Check Home for Plants or Expired Food

Even if you visited your loved one’s home to find important documents, you should return to check on perishable items. Check their refrigerator and cabinets for items that can expire. Consider donating the other items to a food distribution charity if you are able. 

Also, look for any plants and take them with you. These steps avoid attracting pests to the empty living space. 

13. Check with Fraternal Services or Military

If your loved one was part of the military or any fraternal services, notify them of your loved one’s passing. They will let you know if any special ceremonies and honors can be bestowed upon your loved one.  Additionally, the Military or fraternal organizations often assist with the cost of a service or burial. 

14. Write an Obituary

If you choose to place a formal obituary in the newspaper, you should write it before the wake. According to Legacy.com, these cost between $100 – $800. The price depends on the length of the obituary and the chosen publication. Alternative options include: 

  • Funeral Home Website: Many funeral homes allow you to post a copy of your loved one’s obituary on their website. 
  • Social media: Social media platforms provide another, less-formal option to leave an obituary message. Many friends choose to interact by leaving comments.

Leading Up to the Wake

As you plan the funeral, wake, or memorial service, you’ll need to facilitate each of these tasks.

15. Establish Financial Needs

Common costs related to a funeral planning service include the cost of burial or cremation, the vessel, and legal paperwork. Additionally, you may choose to include memorial programs, floral arrangements, printed photos, and other displays. Celebrations surrounding the service may require catering and a venue. Create a budget and determine if there are costs that aren’t covered by your loved one’s estate.

16. Choose Participants

You’ll need to decide on a format for a memorial service. Typically, someone leads the service and introduces each person to speak. This may be the funeral director or a religious advisor. Even if you have a time when anyone can speak, someone will need to facilitate the transition between speakers. Plan who will participate in the ceremony. 

17. Set a Schedule

You’ll likely have a limited amount of time to spend at your service. Plan how you will fill that time of remembrance by setting a schedule. This helps direct people through the ceremony and any special moments of remembrance.

18. Order Programs and Flowers

If you are working with a funeral home or another service provider, they can help coordinate programs and flowers. You’ll need to decide the details with their assistance. 

If you are arranging the memorial service yourself, you’ll need to order these and plan delivery.

19. Coordinate Food and Drinks

Often, people have a meal as part of awake. You’ll need to choose the venue for the meal and plan the food. Some choose to cater the event. Others may plan a potluck for a close-knit community. 

20. Tell Loved Ones About the Service

Once you have planned the service, you should send clear instructions to anyone who would want to attend. This includes friends, family, and other mourners. Sometimes, people differentiate between the different parts of the mourning process and only invite those closest to the deceased to the intimate parts like a graveside service. 

Within a Few Weeks

After the ceremony, you’ll need to finalize these important details.

21. Order a Headstone

If you are burying your loved one, you may order a headstone after they are interred. This serves as a permanent marker. Often, people have another small, private moment of remembrance when the headstone is installed. If you are scattering your loved one’s ashes in a garden, you may put a marker in that area.

22. Get at Least 5-10 Copies of the Death Certificate

As you are settling your loved one’s estate, you’ll need several copies of their death certificate. Order many copies to avoid reordering later. 

You can order these through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Health. Most states have online forms on an option to visit their offices.

23. Start the Will Probate Process

Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death. If the deceased has a last will and testament, probate confirms that the will is legally valid and executes the written instructions. If the deceased did not write a will, the probate court will consult your state’s intestate laws. These laws vary from state to state. A lawyer can guide you through either process.

24. Talk to Financial Benefit Organizations

This may include stocks, bonds, retirement benefits, or social security. Go through the deceased records to find out the entitlements their loved ones may be able to collect.

25. Notify Banks and Insurance Companies

To notify your loved one’s bank of their death, you can visit their office or their website. Most banks have an online form where you can start the process. They’ll need to verify the death and help close the accounts. 

Similarly, you must notify insurance companies of your loved one’s death. They will verify the death and determine who receives benefits. 

26. Contact an Accountant

In addition to a lawyer, you’ll want to use an accountant to help close out your loved one’s finances. They can guide you through the taxes necessary to settle their estate.

27. Notify Pension Services

If your loved one had a pension, you’ll need to notify them as well. They’ll confirm the death and facilitate any financial benefits. 

28. Cancel Insurance and Utilities

Cancel the insurance and utilities that are no longer necessary. If your loved one owned a property, you may need to keep some of these accounts active to keep the property safe.

29. Find and Pay Important Bills

As you’re closing out your loved one’s account, you’ll need to settle any outstanding bills. Use this as another opportunity to close out their accounts. 

30. Close Credit Cards and Notify Credit Reporting Services

Close all of the deceased’s credit cards to protect their accounts. Also, notify credit reporting services. Equifax provides simple instructions for protecting credit after death HERE.

31. Cancel Driver’s License

Contact your local DMV to cancel the deceased driver’s license. You’ll need a copy of their death certificates and any license plates in their name. 

32. Close or Memorialize Social Media and Email Accounts

Social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook can be closed or memorialized after death.

If you need to close out an email account, submit a support form from their email account to their email provider.

Download our Checklist

Photo of Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

Although this list may seem overwhelming, you can work through these tasks slowly over the weeks following your loved one’s departure. This document contains printable checklists to make the unthinkable a little bit easier.

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Comprehensive Guide to Ash Scattering Ceremonies

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Ash Scattering Ceremonies are a relatively unknown aspect of the cremation and burial process. With the growing popularity of cremation, more people are looking for alternative ways to commemorate the lives of their loved ones. At Rest Ashured, we offer ash scattering options that include gorgeous mountain views, tree dedications with memorial stones, and burial at sea in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina, Topsail Island, North Carolina, or Virginia Beach.

We help people honor their loved ones in a variety of ways, and wanted to share some of those ways with you. There is no right or wrong way to memorialize a loved one, so look through these ideas below—or come up with your own—because when it comes time to say goodbye, each journey is its own.

What is an Ash Scattering Ceremony?

An Ash Scattering Ceremony is a ritual held to honor someone’s life after their death and cremation. It is very similar to what’s held at a funeral, but not confined to a church or funeral home, and can be held any time after the cremation. More often than not, these ceremonies are held by the families, whereas funeral services are run by the funeral directors themselves.

For some families, they choose to have a typical memorial service and keep the ashes in an urn, versus scattering them. For them, this urn is a permanent home for their loved one. But for others, it is only a temporary home until they find just the right spot to scatter the ashes. Often, people feel they need some time before they are able to let go.

Scatter Gardens

A family may wish to plan and memorialize their loved one on their own, or they may wish to consult a funeral home to help with the ceremony. The types of memorials and ceremonies for ash scattering are only limited to one’s imagination, although most will probably fall into the ceremony types described below. Regardless of the type of ceremony, some form of scatter garden is often included.

Scatter gardens are designated places where ashes can be scattered without legal or environmental risks. (People often don’t realize that states have different laws and regulations for ash scattering.). Scatter gardens can accommodate just about any type of ash scattering ceremony. Some are manicured floral gardens with areas for trenching, raking, or ringing of the ashes. Others offer a rock garden for scattering, but in a more natural/rustic setting. Rest Ashured Ash Scattering Services offers such a place with beautiful mountain views, as well.

Types of Ash Scattering Ceremonies

Casting Ceremony

When people first think about scattering ashes, often what comes to mind is the tossing and releasing of cremation ash into the air, called a casting ceremony. Many people feel that this symbolizes the freeing or letting go of their loved one’s spirit.  It can involve music, memories, and verses. While there are many places in which to cast, cremation ash must be scattered carefully. Because of the uncontrollable nature of this type of scattering, many choose other options.

Trenching Ceremony

Trenching ceremonies are ideal for those who loved to garden or loved nature. Often the trench is dug under a tree or in a flower bed. Others may choose to dig a trench into a special shape, such as the loved one’s initials. After the trenching is finished, family and friends can take turns scattering the ashes inside the trench, as they eulogize their loved one with fond memories, recited verses, etc. After everyone is finished, the ashes are covered with the displaced dirt or mulch.

Ringing ceremony

Many families, especially those who have planted a tree in remembrance of their loved one, choose a ringing ceremony.

This is a slight variation of the trenching ceremony, where a circle is dug around a tree, flower, or some permanent structure of significance. The ashes can be scattered directly on the ground around the tree or shrub, before being covered with the displaced earth. Many see this as a symbol of the circle of life. Rest Ashured offers tree dedications, and will plant a tree for the cremation ash to rest beneath.

Raking Ceremony

At some point during this ceremony, the family pours the ashes evenly across a section of soil, then rakes the ashes into the soil, usually at the conclusion of the ceremony. Often, each family member takes turns raking the ashes into the soil, and as they do so, they share a special memory, prayer or verse.

Sky or Aerial Ceremony

For this type of ash scattering ceremony, you will probably need to work with a private company that will release the ashes during flight. Aerial scattering can be done by plane, helicopter, hot air balloon, or even by a hang glider. Often family and friends will hold a private ceremony on the ground, where they can view the scattering.

Scattering Ashes at Sea Ceremony

Woman scattering ashes on the water

Scattering ashes over the water, often called “Burial at Sea,”  is usually done by boat or at the water’s edge in a floating ceremony. Because the EPA requires that cremation ash be scattered 3 nautical miles offshore, families have fewer options with this ceremony. They can either charter a captained boat to take the family out to have an attended ash-scattering ceremony, or they can hire a boat captain to scatter the ashes for them. The latter option is less expensive, and is often chosen in conjunction with a beachside ceremony. Rest Ashured Ash Scattering Services offers attended and unattended options.

Lighting candles and casting flowers, petals or wreaths on the water along with the ashes, are lovely choices to enhance the event.

Floating Ceremony

In this ceremony, as opposed to scattering ashes over open water, the cremation ash is put into a water-soluble urn. These urns can be simple or ornate, according to your taste. After, or as a part of, the memorial, the urn is placed in the water. The urn floats for a couple minutes before it begins to sink and dissolve. To conclude the ceremony, guests will often toss live flowers, petals, or wreaths into the water as one final tribute.

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Do People Really Scatter Ashes at Disney World?

Disney World Cinderella Castle

With the continued growth of cremation and ash scattering services, people are looking for memorial ideas and more unique locations to pay their final respects.  People are having their ashes scattered at sea, they are planting trees and holding private dedications, they scatter ashes in public beaches and baseball fields, etc.  While Ash Scattering continues to grow in popularity, most people remain unsure of the laws and regulations governing the scattering of ashes.

When I first heard about ashes being scattered at Disney World theme parks, I was a little bit in shock! Talk about original!  According to a Oct. 2019 Wall Street Journal article, it is actually fairly common. As I started trying to wrap my head around this strange and foreign thought, I remembered some old family friends whose only thoughts were of their next jaunt to Disney. In fact, their whole house looked like a Disney trinket shop! With Disney holding such a special place in the hearts of families everywhere, it’s no surprise that many have considered having their ashes spread there at the park.

Scattering Ashes at Disney World

It has become so common for people to scatter ashes at Disney World that custodians at the park have a special code for cleaning it. It’s called “HEPA cleanup.” When custodians hear that code come across, it means yet another park guest has scattered the cremated ashes of a loved one somewhere in the park.

Disney World with Cinderella Castle

Thoughts of scattered ashes falling from Disney rides and landing on unsuspecting people below is almost too much to think about! Or do people pour them into one of the many waterways within the park? According to the Wall Street Journal article, there is no lack of imagination.

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes, and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts…“The Haunted Mansion probably has so many human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian. (One can only wonder if people think being laid to rest in the Haunted Mansion will turn them into a ghost so that they can live at Disneyland forever.) 

However, the truth of the matter is more somber. Some people agree to spread their loved ones’ ashes at Disney parks, so that they can feel like they’re enjoying the place with them one more time.

Disney strives to make everyone happy, but allowing ash scattering in the parks is definitely a leap too far. Ash scattering is explicitly forbidden, and if you are caught, you will be escorted from the park. Because of this, people have resorted to hiding them in pill bottles, make-up compacts, and even plastic bags in the bottom of purses. Sometimes, families will even split up the remains to sprinkle around the park in multiple places!

Why Shouldn’t You Scatter Ashes at Disney?

Again, Disney is known to be called the Happiest Place on earth, but don’t expect the clean up crew to feel that way when they get that “HEPA cleanup code”! You may recognize the HEPA acronym as a special kind of filter needed to suck up very fine particles, like human ashes. That’s right…instead of eternity in Disney, it’s into the ol’ vacuum. That’s probably not what your loved one had in mind!

Rest Ashured Scatter Garden

Personally, I’m a big fan of the outdoors, and would much rather have my ashes scattered in a place where I can be one with nature forever, undisturbed. Even then, however, you have to account for laws and regulations.  If you perform a professional ceremony using services like the ones we offer at Rest Ashured, you can conduct a respectful ceremony for your loved one and scatter their ashes legally and safely. That would also avoid legal issues and possibly being banned from a place you and your family love so much! 

So if you’re thinking about scattering a loved one’s ashes at Disneyland or Disney World, just realize that the parks know about this sort of thing. They’re prepared for it. They even have a code for it.

 “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.

Belle
Beauty and the Beast
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Laws and Regulations With Scattering Ashes

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With the rising popularity of cremation, it is likely that you or a loved one may consider cremation over a traditional burial. There are lots of reasons why it’s a good option, including the fact that it’s less costly than burial, involves less labor, and it’s better for the environment than being buried in a grave.

However, many people don’t know what they want to do with a loved one’s ashes after cremation. There are more laws and regulations for ash scattering than you may realize— so make sure you know the rules governing where and how ashes can be spread.

Laws For Scattering Cremated Ashes

Regulations on spreading ashes are predominantly enforced and managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. A large portion of the restrictions over how and where you spread ashes come from property disputes or environmental safety concerns.

One of the best ways to make sure that your loved one’s ashes are scattered legally is to contact an ash scattering service. These little-known businesses, like Rest Ashured, know the laws in their areas and can ensure that cremated ash is scattered properly.  Rest Ashured offers a mountain scatter garden, a memory tree, and even burial at sea along the shores of Virginia Beach, Topsail Island, North Carolina, or in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Scattering Ashes in the Ocean

scattering ashes in the ocean

Having a burial at sea for your cremated loved one is harder than you may think. Due to the potential for pollution and environmental concerns, the EPA regulates what you can put in the waters in and around the USA.

You are legally allowed to spread ashes at sea as long as you are no more than three nautical miles off the coast. However ashes, and other organic items like flowers, are the only things you are allowed to spread. Anything else you decide to put in the water in considered a pollutant and is illegal under the Clean Water Act. By federal law, scattering ashes in wading pools or directly on beaches is illegal.

Rest Ashured’s burial at sea service takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Virginia or North Carolina.

Ash Scattering in Rivers and Lakes

If you have plans to scatter your loved one’s ashes in inland waters, definitely check with the EPA as well as the local authorities beforehand. Often, you’ll need a special permit to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a local waterway. Make sure you apply for these permits in advance, especially if you and your family members plan on having a ceremony for the scattering.

Ash Scattering Elsewhere

There is also a concern about spreading your ashes on private land. If you choose to scatter your ashes in land you own or on certain public lands, that is typically allowed. However, if you decide to spread your ashes on someone else’s property, you must get the permission of the landowner.

Theme Parks

Places such as National Parks and theme parks are very common places to want to scatter ashes. National parks are public land, and you simply need a permit. These permits are usually rather affordable, between $25-75 per permit.

However, theme parks are considered private property. Scattering ashes in those places will, at best, get you removed. Often, the ashes won’t stay where you scattered them, the employees have to remove them in theme parks like Disney World.

Scatter Gardens

Scattering gardens are a great option for people looking for a public area in which to scatter their loved one’s ashes. Often, cemeteries have scatter gardens that you can use. They can cost money, but it depends on the scattering garden options in your area.

Memory trees are another potential scattering garden option. A memory tree is a tree that’s been planted for your loved one, with their ashes scattered at the roots during the planting process.

Rest Ashured’s scattering garden is uniquely located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with views of the James River. Memorial stones and memory trees for people’s loved ones are close to the beautiful space.

Aerial Scattering

Having your loved one’s ashes released from an airplane has become very common in recent years. While you’re allowed to travel with cremated ashes in your carry on bag on most airlines, it’s not recommended. And there’s really no way to release the ashes in a sealed passenger plane. This means it’s significantly easier to hire a service specifically for this.

Because of the disparity between the laws across states and localities, and because of the federal regulation of scattered ashes, it can be difficult to figure out what to do. It’s often safest to hire a specialist to scatter the ashes to ensure your loved one gets the final resting place they deserve!

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Traveling With Ashes

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What to know if you’re Traveling with Ashes

There may come a time when you need to travel with ashes. Whether you are moving, trying to spread them somewhere, or simply transporting them, you may need to look into flight policies to discover the best way to move them. 

When doing so, it is important to know the regulations of taking cremated remains on planes, and which companies are more open to it.

Issues for Cremated Remains on Planes

Most containers for ashes, urns, are made out of breakable glass. The TSA recommends that you use cardboard or wooden containers on planes though to avoid breakage. This will also guarantee that the urns can be scanned. Urns that are made out of glass may also contain lead, which makes them impossible to X-ray. If this is the case, the urns will not be allowed on the plane.

However, if you cannot find another way to store the remains, make sure you show up earlier than you normally would. Hopefully, this will give you time to work out any issues with a glass urn before your flight.

Airfare Companies on Cremated Remains

It is also important to know which companies are more open to having cremated remains on their planes. United, Spirit, U.S. Airways, American, and Frontier all allow cremated remains on their planes without any stipulations. Whereas Southwest, Jet Blue, and Delta have a few requirements. Most of these requirements are simply getting permission to carry the remains in advance or making sure it is carry-on luggage, but if you want more information you should consult the companies’ online policies.