The most recent change in burial practices is the increasing use of cremation. According to the Cremation Association of North America, nearly 26% of U. S. deaths in the year 2000 resulted in cremations rather than traditional burials. And they expect the number to rise to 50% by 2025. With these kinds of numbers, scattering gardens have become a new, if not necessary, thing in cemetery design and management.
Scattering gardens provide a place for people to scatter ashes of their loved ones without having to purchase a plot or niche in a columbarium wall. As such, scattering gardens provide permanent memorials that give family and friends a specific place to visit the departed - an important factor in the grieving process.
There are several options available at scattering gardens, and each cemetery has their own rules and guidelines. At some cemeteries, urns are buried in the garden, and some of these cemeteries require biodegradable urns. Other cemeteries allow people to rake the ashes into the garden, which are then covered with mulch. Still other cemeteries bury vaults underneath gardens where the ashes are poured to keep them from entering the atmosphere.
Generally, there are many options for the handling of cremated remains, of which the scattering garden is just one. Other options include scattering ashes over bodies of water, casting the ashes into the air, in a trench or ring in the ground, and even from an airplane. The important thing with these types of scatterings is that they are done at a place significant to the departed and/or family. For example, a trench or ring could be dug at the beach, ashes could be tossed along a favorite hiking trail, or scattered at a lucky fishing spot.
When these types of scatterings are done, there are specially-designed scattering urns available. Water-soluble urns are often used for water scatterings because they gradually disperse the ashes into the water and eventually sink. As for land scatterings, some urns are designed for the easy dispensation of the ashes, such as a hole in or near the bottom to keep the ashes from flying all over the place. Of course, there is always the old-fashioned way of scattering, which is done by hand by one or more members of the grieving party.
A final note on cremated remains: even when people scatter the majority of a person's remains, some families choose to keep a portion of the ashes. When they do, the most common form of storage is a keepsake urn, but another popular option is to turn the ashes into jewelry.