A pot of potpourri


Written by Jacob Terranova


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.