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"Operation Grandma": Getting Creative with Ashes | Modern Memorials

"Operation Grandma": Getting Creative with Ashes

As cremation has become more popular, situations like “Operation Grandma” were bound to occur. That’s the term employees at Disney World and Disneyland use when a loved one’s ashes don’t scatter as intended and a quick vacuum is needed, according to a Boston Globe article on trends in ashes scattering.

The National Funeral Directors Association projects that the U.S. cremation rate will rise to 53.5 percent in 2018 and will reach nearly 80 percent by 2035. So situations like Operation Grandma will likely become more prevalent.

The article points out that in addition to an overall increase in cremation, the number of people involved in the scattering of ashes is also on the rise. Some families are asking funeral attendees if they’d like to take some ashes of their own to scatter somewhere meaningful.

However, while it might seem perfectly natural to scatter ashes in public outdoor space, strictly speaking, it’s not always allowed. For example, New England states prohibit scattering of ashes in inland waters, such as rivers, canals, and ponds. In California, ashes should be scattered at least 500 yards from shore.

There are also practical matters to attend to, like gauging the wind and understanding that bits of bone will give ashes a variable consistency. Tré Miller Rodriguez’s post “The 9 Things No One Tells You About Scattering Ashes” on the site Modern Loss is a must-read for the scattering newbie.

Though, as the Boston Globe article describes, you can also enlist professional help for send-offs that include a black-and-white portrait of the deceased painted with ashes or a scattering via drone, helicopter, a five-foot biodegradable helium balloon, or a CO2-powered ash-scattering cannon that will launch ashes up to 70 feet. And we’ve written previously about greener cremation options.

But while scattering ashes where a loved one requested or in place that holds special meaning can offer a healing moment, many also find peace in keeping a loved one near in a beautiful full-size cremation urn or keepsake urn or piece of cremation jewelry.

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