Frazer Blog

10 unique ash releasing ceremony ideas

by | Mar 17, 2017 | For Families

An artist painting

A releasing ceremony can be a cathartic ritual. It’s a symbolic way of saying goodbye and letting go.

With cremation rates rising, ash releasing ceremonies are also becoming increasingly popular. Here are 10 unique releasing ceremonies to create a more personal ritual.

Wildflower Seeds

Nature — on both a symbolic and scientific level — is a healthy way to cope and heal. When scattering ashes, mix in a packet of wildflower seeds. The act is a way to symbolize the cycle of life and can provide a peaceful place to come back to and reflect on the memories of a loved one. If actual seeds aren’t an option, you also can scatter the ashes with flower petals.

Here’s a brief guide to what certain flower colors mean:

  • White: Peace, purity, and innocence.
  • Red: True love.
  • Yellow: Friendship and devotion.
  • Pink: Joy, grace, and peace.
  • Purple: Mourning and sorrow.


Releasing a small flock of doves when the ashes are scattered can create a beautiful and symbolic ceremony. Doves symbolize feelings of love, peace, hope, the Holy Spirit, and the freedom of the soul. In many places, experienced handlers are available to assist with the ceremony. After the ceremony, you also can keep dove feathers to remember your loved one.

A Final Note Goodbye

Saying goodbye is never easy. One option for families is to include handwritten notes with a final goodbye message to scatter with the ashes. Some companies offer small earth-friendly paper that contains a seed that will turn the small notes into plants over time.


Releasing sky lanterns — also known as Chinese or paper lanterns — symbolizes a light guiding the spirit to heaven or to a place of peace. Families can release one or several lanterns as they scatter the ashes of a loved one. There are even lanterns available that contain special prayers or messages for honoring a loved one.

Butterfly Release

Butterflies symbolize transformation and change from one existence to another. It’s a simple way to turn any releasing ceremony into a beautiful and memorable event.

During the release, there are several poems or verses you can recite. Here are a few ideas:

River/Ocean Release

Releasing the ashes of a loved one over water is one of the most popular ways people scatter ashes. Water symbolizes a cleansing of the soul, freedom, and the natural flow of life. There are several ways you can build upon a water releasing ceremony. Some ideas include using flower petals or a flower wreath to help you visualize the remains as they drift away. Another idea is to make small boats from biodegradable water-soluble paper and put small amounts of the remains in each boat and watch them drift away.


Taking a page from Hunter S. Thompson‘s book, you can turn a releasing ceremony into a celebration by launching ashes into the sky alongside fireworks. Several companies will help create custom fireworks that incorporate the ashes of a loved one to create a special tribute.

Sky Scattering

Aerial scattering can provide a breathtaking perspective on releasing ashes down over an area. There also are several ways to go about it. Families can scatter remains from a plane, helicopter, hot air balloon, or even a hang glider.


Dubbed the “Loved One Launcher,” this handheld rocket will launch the cremated ashes more than 70 feet into the air, along with confetti and streamers. Much like the fireworks, it’s a great way to remember those who loved life and want their memories to be celebrated.

Release Urns

One company called Angel Aire specializes in building unique release urns. The urn, according to their website, “releases the cremains over an approximate three-minute period into an elegant cloud, allowing family and friends time to reflect on a life lived.” Watch the video below to learn more.


  1. Alexandria Martinez

    I was talking to my best friend of several years after not seeing her for some time and she told me about using one of these methods to send off her grandmother. After her grandmother was cremated, they used fireworks to send her off like you mentioned. It was a beautiful ceremony and the grandmother wishes were respected and followed. What a fascinating funeral.

  2. Ginnie Maurer

    Please, please NEVER release doves or butterflies or any living creature. No living creature should be subjected to such confinement and possible death. Never ever release balloons, lanterns, or any other nonbiodegradable substance into the atmosphere. These items harm the environment and can injure/kill wildlife, choke waterways, and mar the beauty of a landscape. When honoring your loved one, remember also to honor all living beings and our planet.

  3. Sutton Turner

    I love the idea of scattering ashes with wildflower seeds symbolizing the cycle of life. My grandma has been planning her funeral and cremation for a while now. Thank you for the information on different ways to celebrate a loved one’s life.

  4. Bree Ward

    It’s true that a releasing ceremony is a symbolic way of saying goodbye to deceased loved ones. I love your idea about butterfly and dove release. I think this will add a dramatic effect and a strong sense of connection in the afterlife. I’m a very emotional person, and if ever that I get to choose what sort of ceremony I’ll have during my burial, I’m gonna go with burial-at-sea with doves and butterflies.

  5. Stefan Bradley

    I didn’t know that doves symbolize love, peace, hope, and the freedom of the soul and that there were still experienced handlers available. My late mother loved birds ever since she was young and I wanted to find a way to make her ash releasing ceremony meaningful to those attending. Now that I know that dove releases are available I will be sure to make preparations to have them ready for the ceremony.

  6. David Johnson

    That’s such a cool idea to release doves so you have feelings of hope and love expressed. My father just passed away this week and he loved the sea. To me, that could also represent calm and peace and freedom. We’ll have to look into spreading ashes further.

  7. Lynn

    We are going to sprinkle flower seeds after scattering my Mums Ashes into the Soil and we are also going to send Lanterns up with messages on them as a way of letting go! as it goes regarding environment issues there are alot of hypocrites out there using plastic coffee cups ready meals bottles of water ect. Most man made stuff is Bad for The Environment! Unless we all go back to basics we wont help or save the Environment at all!

  8. Victoria Addington

    We have been preparing for my father’s wake next week. Now that I’m assigned to find memorial dove release in the funeral, I happened to come across your article. I had no idea that doves symbolize feelings of love, peace, hope, the Holy Spirit, and the freedom of the soul. It’s nice that like doves, for me my father is an embodiment of love, peace, and hope in the family.


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