The different phrases to say when scattering ashes

After the death of a loved one, there is so much to do it can be hard to go through the grieving process in a healthy way. There are funeral costs to work out, friends and family to support and lots of important decisions to make quickly after your loss.

Luckily, one of the most intimate decisions does not need to be rushed. Whereas the clock is ticking on picking out funeral songs and arranging the obituary, deciding on what to say when you scatter your loved one’s ashes is something you don’t have to decide quickly. From the meaningful to the funny, this post will help you decide what to say when scattering ashes.

We Prefer Cremations and Prefer Our Ashes to be Scattered

A recent poll by YouGov found that cremation is being favoured over burial in the UK. Almost 60% of adults that were surveyed stated that they wanted to be cremated when they die, rather than being buried. Interestingly, from the number of participants who stated a preference to be cremated, significantly more adults want their ashes to be scattered rather than being kept.

Although wills and family themselves may tell us where they want their ashes to be scattered, it is rare for someone to tell us what they would like us to talk about before scattering them. Knowing what to say when scattering ashes can be difficult, but we have some advice and inspiration right below.

What to Say When Scattering Ashes

Scattering ashes is likely to be a much more intimate and personal occasion compared to a funeral. At the funeral, many people and distant relatives will be there and at the scattering of the ashes it may just be immediate family or even just yourself.

Because scattering ashes is such a personal occasion, you can take the opportunity to talk about personal memories, moments and even inside jokes between you and the deceased. Your speech does not have to cater to family and friends who don’t remember the specific good times and funny stories that you do - and you can make it extra special.

Some people prefer to do a mini speech before scattering the ashes, talking directly to their loved one as though they were sat with them. Many of whom prefer to end their speech with a beautiful and loving phrase. Here are some types of phrases for inspiration, neatly grouped into different categories.

Life Affirming

Probably the most popular types of phrases when scattering ashes are life affirming ones. They provide comfort that even though the other person is not physically here, your love will go on. Some popular phrases in this vein include utterings from men of art, science and literature:

Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. ~ Albert Einstein

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~ Mark Twain

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. ~ Amelia Burr

While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die. ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

Religious and Secular Topics

Another idea is to use quotes directly taken from religion. For example, if you and your loved one are Catholics, you may choose to take a snippet of the Holy Bible and add it to your speech. On the other hand, you may not be religious and want to keep religion out of the occasion. Both religious and secular phrases can be equally warming and comforting.

Classical Phrases

If your loved one loved the classics, then digging out some of Seneca’s or Socrates’s finest words is a thoughtful addition. They have both touched on death in their works before and some of their favourite phrases are:

The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. ~ Seneca

Years, following years, steal something every day; At last they steal us from ourselves away. ~ Horace

Death may be the greatest of all human blessings. ~ Socrates


We are drawn to western phrases because they are often more familiar to us or the people that said them are more popular within our culture. However, the eastern world has some insightful, inspiring and unique takes on death, which provide excellent phrases for when you are scattering your loved one’s ashes. This quote from Buddhism gives an indication of the east’s beautiful phrases:

Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. ~ Buddha

Light-hearted and Funny

Not everyone wants their chosen phrases to be emotional but also want to make the people they are with smile by laughing about funny stories together. You can do this well by combining funny stories with funny quotes. For example, if your husband has recently died and always complained about axes, a tongue-in-cheek quote may be:

There is always death and taxes; however, death doesn’t get worse every year ~ Unknown