What Prayer to Say While Spreading Ashes

The ritual of spreading the cremation ashes of a beloved person who has passed is a time-honored way to say goodbye and lay them to rest in nature. Spreading a loved one’s ashes can be a powerful moment of grief and healing, as the physical act represents the finality of this goodbye. Many people wish to say a prayer for themselves and the one who passed while spreading ashes. This is a way to honor the person who passed and express your deep grief. Or, perhaps the departed person was a person of faith, and they would have wanted a prayer over their ash spreading. Prayer is powerful and unites many people, just as grieving one who passed does. If you’re looking for a prayer or are perhaps wondering how on earth to choose the right one, please keep reading. We’ll suggest prayers for your ash spreading and discuss how to make this important choice. 

A Prayer for Spreading Ashes by Daniel Szczesniak

This Christian prayer focuses on the hope of eternal life as comfort during present grief. 

“Father, even as your Son committed his spirit into your hands at the hour of his death, even so we commit these remains to your care. Your word promises that if we are, by faith, united to Christ in his death, we are also united to him in his resurrection. So we say goodbye to [Name], and scatter her (his) ashes into your keeping. One day, at the last trumpet, we shall see her (him) again; sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in weakness, raised in power; no longer bearing the perishable image of the man of dust, but changed and bearing the imperishable image of the man of heaven. Amen.”

Hope Prayer by Natalie Regoli

This is a Christian poem for profound grief. It offers thanks for the person who was here and pleads for strength and support during loss. 

“Dear God, we are hurting and struggling to accept the loss of our loved one. But even in pain, we know that all things work together for your good. As we scatter these ashes, we release our dear one into your loving hands where she (he) truly belongs. Thank you for filling us with the hope of seeing her (him) again when we come home to be with you. Let your love fill the void in our hearts, and help us to find joy in the times we shared with her (him). In Jesus' name, we believe and pray, Amen.”

Evidence by Mary Oliver

This poem is about eternal joy, even in the face of profound loss.

“May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risqué.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,

leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,

still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for all the world.”

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

This is a Christian prayer commonly used at burials, but it is equally appropriate for an ash spreading. It’s taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1662).

“Forasmuch as it hath pleased almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we, therefore, commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.”

How to Choose a Prayer to Say While Spreading Ashes

This is one of those choices where there isn’t a wrong one. Whatever prayer you choose will be read by you, and your heart will come through the words, bringing them to life. You can always choose a prayer that your loved one liked or one that was particularly meaningful. Or, if there’s a prayer that is special to you, or others who knew the departed person, that is also entirely appropriate. You can also choose a new prayer if it captures some of what you’re feeling right now or if it simply feels comforting during this time of grief. 

Getting caught up in making the “right” decision can be easy, especially if you’re in a place of profound grief. The desire to have the perfect send-off to honor the one who passed is normal and admirable and shows how much you care for this person. Let go of the stress as much as possible and give yourself permission to make choices that are good enough. Or, if you have others around you who were close to the person who passed, you can delegate the task of choosing prayers (and even speaking them) to someone else. 

Remember, this ceremony is as much for you as it is for the person who passed. Any prayer that feels good to you is a right choice. 

Ecorial’s Memory Map

Record the exact location of your loved one’s ash scattering on Ecorial’s Memory Map. You can create an online memorial to share with those who also love the one who passed, and mark where you laid them to rest.
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