An Air of Dignity
Heath and Vaughn rolling out device that makes scattering ashes easier
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and then what?
Some people who opt for cremation want their remains to be scattered in a place they cherished in life. But for friends and family members who carry out their wishes, scattering doesn’t always go the way they expect, according to some funeral directors and others.
There can be bone fragments in the remains, and the ashes can fall on or blow back at the living.
Chuck Vaughn, the owner at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home in Champaign, said he’s warned clients who plan to scatter remains to avoid windy days, and to expect clumps to fall to the ground.
“It’s just nasty,” he said. “There’s no way you can do it with a bit of style or class, or leaving folks with a good memory.”
At least not scattering remains the traditional way, Vaughn contended. But stay tuned for a new, higher-tech scattering service Heath & Vaughn is now available and name Celestial Cremation.
It involves the use of a boxshaped release urn transported to the scattering site that pushes cremated remains out of an opening into a cloud like ash less cloud.
Vaughn said he found the device, online and got in touch with the inventor to bring it to his funeral home because the idea made sense to him.
He hasn’t found scattering remains by hand to generally be a beautiful, pleasant or meaningful event for families, Vaughn said.
Chuck Vaughn, owner of Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, describes the vapor that is released from the ovalshaped opening found on the more eco-friendly Celestial Cremation device for scattering ashes. Vaughn said it features a heating element and grinding mechanism that further reduces each particle by an eighth of an inch. Colors can be added, which would allow vapors to be turned red, white and blue for a veteran, for example.
“People will say, ‘Dad didn’t want us to do anything, just to scatter him,’” he said. “But if Dad could know what you were going through, he wouldn’t have put those mandates on you.”
The scattering urn was developed by Idaho pilot Scotty Crandlemire after he had a traumatic experience of his own scattering a friend’s cremated remains, he said.
He was expecting to get a container of ashes about the size of a Starbucks coffee cup, and was surprised to learn the average cremated remains weigh about 5 pounds, he said.
At his friend’s scattering ceremony, Crandlemire said he tried to throw the ashes into the air, but “those ashes backfired and got all over me, and pitterpattered all over me and everyone else.”
What he found out, Crandlemire said, is “you can’t just fling 5 pounds out there. They literally make noise hitting the ground.”
His release urn uses air pressure to push the ashes upward to scatter them into the environment, Crandlemire said.
“When the ashes are done scattering, they’re all out there with nature,” he said.
Heath and Vaughn will be the first funeral home in Illinois that will license the urn, Crandlemire said.
It’s “a little ahead of its time,” he acknowledged, but he sees cremation and scattering both continuing to grow in popularity in the U.S., with baby boomers driving an interest in greener funerals, he said.
“That’s why scattering is so popular,” Crandlemire said. “Because you’re returning someone to Mother Nature. It’s not necessarily about the money.”