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What to Say When Scattering Ashes

Scattering ashes is a popular way to handle the remains of a loved one. It is a very personal and emotional experience, and often people are not sure what to say when scattering the ashes. This article will provide some ideas for what to say when scattering ashes, as well as some popular prayers, quotes, and songs that can be used during the ceremony.

What to say when scattering ashes

Choosing the words you'd like to say when scattering ashes is an intensely personal decision. Some families feel most comfortable reading scripture straight from the Bible while others want to speak from the heart in the moment. In general, there are many types of readings and words you could say at a scattering ceremony. Popular choices include:

  • Religious verses or passages
  • General prayers
  • Hymns
  • Favorite songs
  • Quotes
  • Favorite passages from books or other readings
  • Personal speeches
  • Eulogies

You are also able to easily share more than one type of reading at a funeral -- don't feel restricted to just saying a prayer or just reading a quote. The final result should be something that you feel comfortable saying and that feels right.

These quotes can help you express yourself if you're at a loss for words or aren't sure what to say. Additionally, you can use these quotes as a baseline for coming up with your own version of what you'd like to say (or as a way to sign off from a speech you've given or a passage you've read).

"We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly."- Sam Keen

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”- Buddha

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”- Mahatma Gandhi

"In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing." - Robert G. Ingersoll

"I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father's equal, and I never loved any other man as much."- Hedy Lamarr

"Grief is the price we pay for love."- Queen Elizabeth II

"Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it."- Haruki Murakami

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."- Thomas Campbell

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." - Helen Keller

Bible readings for scattering ashes

There are many passages in the Bible that can be read during an ash scattering ceremony. Popular sections of the Bible that are referenced during funerals and ash scattering ceremonies frequently include Psalm and John, but the chosen passage can be any of your choosing or perhaps a favorite passage of your loved one's.

Here are some popular prayers and Bible readings that can help you when you're not sure what prayer to say while spreading ashes:

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house >of the Lord forever.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

John 14:1-3

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance

If choosing a scripture to read while scattering ashes doesn't feel just right, you have plenty of other options to choose from. While these examples are not prayers directly from the Bible, they are prayers that can be recited at funerals, ash scatterings and graveside services.

Mercy Prayer – Natalie Regoli

Lord, we commend the soul of our dearly beloved into your hands. May he find mercy in your eyes so that he can share your glory with the other devoted saints who have gone before us. Forgive him (her) where he (she) went wrong while he (she) was here on this earth. As we scatter his (her) ashes, we commit his(her) body to you and pray that he finds eternal rest for the glory of your holy name. Lord, forgive us where we have strayed during this grieving season. Fill us with thanksgiving for his well-lived and full life. In Jesus' name, we believe and pray, Amen.

Acceptance Prayer – Natalie Regoli

Lord, we scatter these ashes not just so that we can fulfill the wishes of our loved one, but also as a symbol of acceptance of your will over his life. We wanted him (her) to continue living, but God, you called him (her) back home according to your will. We praise you, O Lord, because no plans of yours can be thwarted. Let your grace be sufficient for us that we may be able to fully accept that our loved one is no longer with us. May your name be glorified forever. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust – Book of Common Prayer

Forasmuch as it hath pleased almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we, therefore, commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.

The Blessing of St. Francis of Assisi

The Lord bless you and keep you. May He show His face to you and have mercy. May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace. The Lord bless you!

Catholic prayers for burial of ashes

For those who are Catholic, a specific set of prayers are typically recited during the interment or burial of a loved one, known as The Rite of Committal. The Rite of Committal symbolizes the final separation of the deceased from the living and is an expression of communion. This prayer is typically done by the priest or person who is leading the ceremony. Here is a prayer you would typically see performed during The Rite of Committal, according to Calvary Cemetery:

Lord Jesus Christ, by your own three days in the tomb, you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies. Grant that our brother/sister may sleep here in peace until you awaken him/her to glory, for you are the resurrection and the life. Then he/she will see you face to face and in your light will see light and know the splendor of God, for you live and reign for ever and ever. R. Amen.

If you're not religious and would prefer to say a few words of your own, but don't know where to start, here are some ideas for what to say during an ash scattering ceremony that don't reference other sources of material:

  • "We love you and we'll miss you."
  • "Thank you for being a part of our lives."
  • "Your memory will live on in us forever."
  • "We know you're at peace now."
  • "Your spirit will be with us always."
  • "Until we meet again."

You can also find plenty of inspiration by reading through examples from real families and individuals using Ever Loved.

If you haven’t yet, consider setting up a memorial website through Ever Loved. Memorial websites offer a single place for you to collect condolences and donations, share and view memories, publish event information, publish an online obituary, and access useful resources – all for free.

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Last updated October 16, 2022
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