Social Media in the Wake of Death: A Guide to Grieving in Public

Social media has made it incredibly easy – and incredibly hard – to announce a recent death. The various platforms and public nature of this medium can overwhelm anyone in the days following a death. To assist, Mapalife has developed a guide to grieving on social media.

A Guide to Grieving in Public

One of the hardest things to do after a death is to repeatedly rehash the details of a loved one’s death to family and friends. In some cases, you are still getting over the shock and can be in that initial state of disbelief. One way to help with this immense responsibility is to nominate a family member or friend who is willing to take on the role of communicating the death.

But after the initial shock has worn off and family and friends have been notified, you may still feel the need to express how important this person was to you. One way to commemorate them is to give a speech at the funeral, or perform an act of love in other funeral preparations. However, if speech-giving isn’t your thing, or if you still feel the need to profess your love and grief to the public, social media is a natural choice in which to do so.

Most commonly, people will turn to Facebook as a way to announce a death and the consequent grief to their network of friends and family. And while there is really no explicit right or wrong way to go about expressing your grief on social media, there is a general Etiquette to follow that will allow you to express your grief in a healthy way.

There are also a number of online tools you can use to memorialize your loved one. Prior to social media, a death was announced through an obituary in the local newspaper. While this is still common practice, most families also choose to produce an online memorial to announce funeral arrangements and allow people to send condolences.

Below is a guide where we recommend best practice when announcing a death online. We have also included tips and resources for when you find yourself at a loss for words.

Online best practices when a death is in your family:

The Obituary
  • Designate a family member or close family friend to write the obituary. For references on how to write the perfect obituary for your loved one, check out this article: Guide to Writing an Obituary on
  • Contact your local newspaper for information on word count and rates. Typically, the longer the obituary, the more you will pay. You will also want to ask if the obituary will be posted online.
  • If your funeral home does not mention the obituary, ask if they have an online website in which you can post one. Some funeral homes will have this built into the cost of the funeral arrangements. The written obituary can also be used as a handout at the funeral.
The Online Memorial
  • Ask your funeral home what online memorial website they are partnered with. Some host the memorial on their own site, while others will have the memorial hosted on another site.
  • If you are making alternative arrangements, or not working with a funeral home that offers an online memorial service, you may want to consider posting the obituary on a memorial website yourself.
    • Online memorials are easily shared and communicated with family and friends who are looking for details on the funeral arrangements. Most also offer the opportunity for comments from family and friends.
    • Each memorial site is unique from the rest. Some provide services at no cost and others provide extra services for a nominal fee or subscription. Before providing your credit card for any online service or subscription be sure to read the terms and conditions of the website.
    • Prior to posting to any social media outlet about the death of a loved one, be sure that your immediate family and close friends have heard the news in person or over the phone before posting. The days following a death are hard enough, no need for added stress and hurt feelings to be included.
      • Write the post, re-read, save it, and walk away. Post the next day or later that day. Having someone else proofread the post is always a good idea too. Sometimes coming back to something you’ve written can provide a fresh perspective, or you might trigger an old memory you want to include. You will be under a lot of emotional stress at this time and you will thank yourself later by not rushing into your post.
      • Pro tip: Write your post in a word processor prior to posting to social media. Not sure what to say? Check out this article when the words are hard to find. 
      • Pro tip: Including pictures and/or video can help people connect your words to your loved one. If you can’t decide on the right photo or don’t have a way to quickly upload, you can always post an image or quote. Choose the perfect picture for your post here
    • While there is no defined time frame for this, most people choose to announce a death either a few days before or on the day of the funeral. Posting a few days ahead can provide distant friends and family the opportunity to make arrangements if they wish to do so. However, the above advice still stands of making sure the people who need to know first have been notified.
Other Social Media Outlets
  • Instagram
    • Your post will need to include a picture. You can choose a picture of your loved one or a meaningful quote or landscape. Find pictures to post here
    • You will want to follow the same advice as a Facebook post when it comes to when and what to write. See above for further detail.
    • Hashtags on Instagram and other social media outlets will allow people to search and find the post using that hashtag. On a memorial post you want to keep more private, you may opt not to include hashtags.
    • Like Facebook, you can also tag people in the post. To make it easier for friends and family to find, you may choose to tag them in the post.
    • Finally, you can post your Instagram post straight to Facebook to allow loved ones on both social media outlets to see the same post.
  • Twitter
    • This form of social media is more limited in terms of length of your post. However, you can link to a longer post on a personal blog, or other form of online media.
    • If you have a large Twitter following, or are a public figure, you may find a Twitter post convenient to quickly reach your Twitter followers.
  • Personal Blog
    • If you have a personal blog as a business, or just as a way to keep in touch with people, this is a great tool to relay your grief and pay tribute to the recent loss of a loved one.
Online Fundraising
  • Sometimes financial hardship can affect a family who has just experienced a loss. This can leave them unable to pay for the cost at the funeral home. Online fundraising can be a tool to reach out to people who are willing an able to donate to a funeral. 
  • Pro tip: Be honest and transparent about your need. People want to help and are generous when the need is genuine.
  • Pro tip: Be wary of site fees and rules. Some take a percentage or have a one-time fee for use of the site.  

Etiquette when you see an online post about a death:

  • Be respectful above all.
    • On Facebook, try not to “like” the post, but opt to comment and leave a polite condolence.
    • Unless given permission from the family, it is not recommended to share the news to your own social media feed.
    • If it is a close friend or acquaintance, you can reach out to the family by text or call, but don’t expect them to reply right away – or at all, especially right after a death. Typical etiquette is to reach out and offer help where they need it. Usually, providing cooked meals and gift certificates can be a huge help to families in the time shortly after a death.

Mark your loved one’s final resting place on

The Cremation Jewelry Buyer’s Guide


Cremation Jewelry

When a loved one is cremated, their ashes offer the opportunity for creative and beautiful memorial options. Many people choose to turn ashes into cremation jewelry so their loved ones can physically be with them in everyday life.

Mapalife has combed the Internet to provide you with the wide-ranging options that now exist in cremation jewelry. We have found three primary offerings of cremation jewelry:

  1. Urn jewelry
    • Urn jewelry is a locket-type of cremation jewelry that includes a piece of the jewelry you can pour ashes into and seal.
  2. Processed jewelry
    • This type of cremation jewelry includes the ashes being formed into another type of material (typically glass).
  3. Cremation diamonds
    • This is the process of turning ashes into certifiable diamonds.

The following are a selection of online vendors that can provide you a wide-ranging selection of the above cremation jewelry types. We recommend researching a few to find the perfect piece that commemorates the character and unique personality of your loved one.

Cremation Solutions

This site is the first search result you will find when you type in “cremation jewelry” into an online search engine. They have loads of options and provide three basic types of jewelry:

  • Standard – you add ashes (ex: locket)
  • Custom – ashes added to process (ex: glass)
  • Jewelry made from ashes – diamonds & crystals

What they do right: Being a former funeral director, President Jeff Staab created the company to offer people a high quality selection of products. His insight into the industry has led him to create a site with the wide selection of product you’re looking for.

Mapalife’s pick: Pandora-styled glass bead bracelets (or necklace)

cremation jewelry cremation solutions

Everlasting Memories

If you are looking for cremation urn jewelry, this is your site. They specialize in this type of cremation jewelry and provide added benefits to their products you might not find on other sites.

What they do right: The company provides free engravings on all products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. What’s not to love about that?

Mapalife’s pick: Modern cremation urn necklace

Everlasting Memorials Cremation Jewelry

Perfect Memorials

When you want options, head over to the site that claims the largest online selection of cremation jewelry. On top of that, the company includes free ground shipping to sweeten the deal.

What they do right: Their daily deals and creative designs can get you the unique piece you’re looking for at the right price. Perfect Memorials also offers photo engraving to their pieces for a really personal touch.

Mapalife’s pick: Photo engraved cremation jewelry

Perfect Memorials Cremation Jewelry


Favorite Etsy Finds

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path when it comes to cremation jewelry, Etsy is a fantastic place to find unique cremation jewelry pieces.

The Sad Basset

The Sad Basset offers modern, handcrafted designs, delivered in chic cremation urn bracelets and necklaces.

Mapalife’s Pick: Rose gold cremation necklace

Sad Basset Cremation Jewelry


This company provides an array of personalized jewelry and lockets. Many lockets can double as an urn necklace if sealed properly.

Mapalife’s pick: Statement acorn necklace that is in fact an urn necklace

Freshy Fig Cremation Jewelry

Grateful Glass

Grateful Glass, Inc. provides a beautiful array of hand-blown glass pendants infused with cremated remains.

Mapalife’s Pick: Glass pendant necklace in blue

Grateful Glass Cremation Jewelry

Cremation Diamonds

Cremation diamonds are a fast-growing trend in cremation jewelry. While this can be a bigger investment, it is one that beautifully encapsulates the beauty of a loved one. Like diamonds that come from the earth, cremation diamonds follow the same principles of diamond selection: Color, Cut, Carat, and Clarity. These principles create the cost structure and desirability of some diamonds over others.

Also like diamonds that come from the earth, manufactured cremation diamonds come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. The beautiful part of this is selecting the perfect combination of attributes that complement your loved one best.

When choosing a cremation diamond company, there are a lot of well-established and reputable choices. Below is a comparison of three diamond creators we would recommend exploring before making your selection.

*For comparison’s sake, price of cremation diamond quoted is of a .2 carat, colorless diamond.

Heart In Diamond
  • .25 CT at $3,415*
  • 3-4 months to make
  • Can provide ash or hair
  • Payment plan available
  • Authenticity guarantee provided, including official GIA grading report on diamonds over .25CT
  • Diamonds recognized by: European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), or the International Gemological Institute (IGI)
  • .2 CT at $3,499*
  • 6-9 months to make
  • Must provide 8oz. of ashes
  • Authenticity guarantee provided, each diamond inspected by GIA graduate
  • Can order official GIA grading report
Cremation Solutions
  • .2 CT at $3,499*
  • 6-9 months to make
  • Can provide ash or hair
  • This company also provides cremation crystals as an affordable alternative to a cremation diamond.

Why are locations so meaningful?

Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college? Where do you work? Where do you live?

Locations give us a sense of identity. They represent who we are, where we come from, and who we want to be. Our hometown, state, or country tells others about the culture, values, and people that have surrounded us in our life. It’s where our mom, dad, brothers, and sisters are from. It’s where we learned to walk, talk, and ride a bike for the first time. It’s an ode to our first kisses, first loves, and all the firsts in-between.

We wear our locations with pride – showcasing our team’s colors and mascots. We cheer for our teams in the big game, celebrate the wins, and commiserate the losses. Locations provide unmistakable bonds with these people in collective shared experience. It gives us things to talk about, commonalities, and (in some cases) differences from the rest of the world.

These locations that make up who we are carry so much meaning in life. Chockfull of memories, we remember these locations with fondness, happiness, and sometimes sadness. And it’s the unique combination of locations that create the incredible phenomenon that is the individual.

Where were you married? Where were your kids born? Where do you vacation? Where do you travel?

Locations are significant. There’s a reason people look to vacation spots with a sense of fondness – a reason why they keep coming back. Being in a location can call upon a specific memory, remind you of better times, or create an unmistakable feeling of bliss.

A lot of times we recall the location of a significant life event. You remember the church you were married, the hospital where you met your first born, and the cabin you rented for your annual family vacation.

Other times, we become nostalgic of a place. It holds meaning that we were once there with the people we loved. Sometimes those people pass on and these locations hold that much more meaning to us.

Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? When the Challenger exploded? On September 11, 2001?

Locations provide perspective. Our feelings of where we were when these significant world events took place are engrained in our minds. It was a time when the world felt as one, emotions were strong, and our differences were in our location at the time.

Where we were when these events happened gives us perspective. It’s a talking point, a difference in point of view between strangers. Yet these locations bind us. Every American citizen felt the same the day President Kennedy was shot as they did the day two hijacked planes flew into the Twin Towers.

Where are you going? Where will you end up? Where will you retire?

Locations keep us looking ahead. We look for places to be added to our bucket lists. They give us something to look forward to, a sense of hope, and promise of the future. We get excited to plan new trips, or move to a new place. We cannot see the future, but we look to it with optimism at the chance of visiting lands unknown.

Sometimes where we end up in life is exactly where we started, but it’s ultimately our choice. We look forward to retirement in a favorite spot, or returning to our hometown we love so much. They can provide us with as much stability as they can excitement at different times in our life.

Where will your ashes be scattered?

Locations provide a place of rest. We look to specific locations at the end of our life. They are where we are buried, where our ashes are scattered, or where our remains are kept.

These locations hold the ultimate meaning to us – and to those we leave behind. They encompass where we’ve been, where we are, (and sometimes) where we want to be. When cremated, our final resting place is up to us. And that is why it’s increasingly important to have the conversation early and often with your loved ones on where you want your ashes scattered.

Locations are important. Don’t let your ash scattering site be forgotten. To create your Wishsite, or to record a loved one’s Scattersite, please visit

Planning Your Cremation

Thinking and talking about your death is a difficult and frequently unnatural thing to do, but more and more medical and financial experts are encouraging people to think through their final disposition wishes and make their wishes known to family members.

This article is for the growing number of people who have decided that they want to be cremated. While surely not all-encompassing, the below can serve as a starting point to get both you and your family prepared ahead of time.

Initial Considerations

Personal preference should ultimately be your guiding force, however there are several factors that will influence the decision-making surrounding your cremation process.

  • Religious background – If you’ve already decided to be cremated, then you likely aren’t Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, or Mormon. While many religions in the past few decades have softened their stance on cremation, several (Catholic included) have preferences for how ashes are handled. If you’re unsure, we recommend that you reach out to your local religious leader.
  • Funeral service preference – Cremation provides flexibility since there is no need to hold a funeral service immediately following a death. The exception to this is if you prefer to hold a funeral service with the body present prior to being cremated. Otherwise, your choice is between direct cremation or cremation followed by a memorial service at a later (more convenient) date.
  • State regulations – Cremation laws vary at the US state and local level. Certain states ban funeral homes from running crematoriums, while other states mandate that a funeral home oversee the cremation process (i.e. consumers cannot go directly to a crematorium). Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the $20 billion funeral industry has it’s fair share of convoluted regulation. To understand what laws may impact you, we recommend you check out Nolo’s state by state glance at funeral laws and disposition laws.
  • Cost considerations – While cremation is generally less expensive than traditional burial, your funeral bill can quickly increase depending on your desires for funeral services and memorial products. It is encouraged to shop around on price, as similar services can cost thousands of dollars more (or less) at different locations. The 2015 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report was kind enough to share data on 2014 median funeral homes costs.

funeral costs

*It’s worth noting that the 2014 NFDA report highlighted (in the states that allow it) that direct cremation was significantly less expensive ($1,300 instead of $2,200) at direct cremation providers compared to NFDA full-service funeral homes. For those hoping to become a savvy consumer in the funeral industry, we encourage you to read the ten tips given by the Funeral Consumers Alliance. And for those who need help financing the costs of a funeral, check out this helpful article on cost considerations for widowed spouses. 

Choosing a Final Resting Place

Many who are cremated will end up in a cemetery – either buried in a grave with a cremation casket or entombed in a columbarium with an urn. However, the popularity of cemeteries seems to be decreasing while the rate of cremation increases. One study by FAMIC, the Funeral and Management Information Council, found that the percentage of US adults who owned cemetery property decreased from 50% in 2010 to 34% in 2015. Cremation gives people the ability to be unique with their final resting place – with growing popularity in scattering remains, creating keepsake items out of cremated remains, or simply keeping the ashes at home.

FYI: Mapalife is here to fill an unmet need in the funeral industry. The majority of family members want to know the final resting place of their relatives. In the very near future, people will be able to add long-lasting visibility to a loved one’s unique final resting place by creating a Scattersite page and sharing the GPS coordinates with family and friends.

Making Your Plan Known

You know you want to be cremated, you understand the (main) regulations that govern the cremation process, and you have an idea of where you want to be laid to rest. The next step is telling your family. Communicating wishes with regards to disposition method, memorial service, and finances can reduce the pressure during an already difficult time for your family.

While it doesn’t hurt to include your funeral wishes in your will, it likely won’t help much either. Wills are meant to communicate who inherits your property (land and otherwise) and may not be reviewed soon enough to help guide the funeral process. A better alternative is to create a formal document (separate from your will) that details your funeral wishes. A simple document that communicates your preference on the below items is a good start, however Funeral Inspirations makes an exhaustive (and free) funeral planner:

  • Disposition method (cremation or burial)
  • Preferred cremation location
  • Funeral service (with your body present) or memorial service (without your body)
  • Final resting place (buried or entombed in a cemetery, scattered in a personally significant location, kept at home, or something more adventurous)

Creating a funeral planning document is a great start to making your wishes known, but to minimize potential confusion it is best to review the document with your family. You’re likely a great person and thus your passing will be an emotional and stressful time for your family. Deciding on how you want to leave this earth, and then communicating those wishes, will make it a little bit easier for your family during an already hard time.  

The Growing Cremation Trend – What Does It Mean?

The Cremation Trend

Google “cremation” on the New York Times website and you get 8,730 results. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that these stories range from cremation guidelines issued from the Vatican to a feature story on a popular Queens columbarium. While this may not seem like a sexy topic for news writers to be focusing on, it is an undeniable trend in disposition that is gaining traction and attention in American culture.

By the year 2030, cremation rates in the United States are expected to top out at 71%, according to one NFDA study. So people are wondering – what does this mean? Why are Americans choosing to be cremated as opposed to traditional burial, and what are the implications of this choice?


Alternative methods of disposition are nothing new to the funeral industry. For years, people have been presented with a variety of disposition methods at the funeral home. This includes traditional burial, donating body to science, green burials, and more. Yet, none of these options have grown in popularity as quickly as cremation. The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) identifies the desire to save land as one of the top reasons for this rising trend.

So if people are choosing cremation to save land, how does the carbon footprint of cremation compare to that of a casket burial? According to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted in the Netherlands, cremation has half the environmental impact of a casket burial. This is mainly due to the maintenance of the burial grounds and decomposition over time. Considering 13% of consumers choose cremation to save land space, the upward cremation trend is congruent with consumers heightened awareness of their environmental impact.


It is no secret that the Catholic Church has been making recent headlines in regards to its newly developed stance on cremation practices. In a nutshell, they have announced that burials (whether casket or cremated) are the preferred method of handling remains. They are not prohibiting cremation, but they have indicated that they do not support scattering of cremains in lieu of burial.

The Catholic Church readdressing it’s stance on cremation is one indication that the cremation trend is growing not just in the USA, but worldwide. However, cremation is not a new phenomena. Scholars believe that cremation has been a practice in some form since the Early Stone Age in 3000 B.C. Although it wasn’t until the year 1874 that the first known crematoriums were officially opened in Woking, England and Gotha, Germany.

Cremation has long been standard practice in many Asian and European countries, with Japan leading the way at an astounding 99.9% cremation rate in 2014. While later to adopt, the USA has experienced a major recent growth in cremation, boasting a substantial 25.4% increase from 1996 – 2014.

Cremation Trend

Changing Perspective

It may seem like this cremation trend happened overnight, but in reality, many factors have aligned to cause a shift in perspective. According to CANA, some of these factors include:

  •       Cremation has become more socially acceptable
  •       Ties to tradition are becoming weaker
  •       Religious restrictions are diminishing
  •       Families prefer more memorial service flexibility

Combine these with the fact that 30% of people choose cremations over burials to save money, and it becomes quite obvious why cremation rates are growing at a rate of 1-2% every year.

Speaking of money, it happens to be the biggest motivating factor for people choosing cremation. This should come as no surprise since the average price for a direct cremation (at a funeral home) is $2,260, compared to an average funeral and burial cost of $7,181. It should be noted that direct cremations are very cost-effective because families are opting for cremation only, instead of including a funeral service and burial.

This cremation trend indicates that families are choosing to conduct their own forms of memorialization through celebrations of life and other means of remembrance. Money saved by doing a direct cremation can provide families with more funds to support these new traditions. Many people also find that ashes can provide for creativity in the grieving process. While scattering cremains or creating cremation jewelry are well-established options, society has gotten more imaginative. One can now be made into a firework, launched in a helium balloon, or sent even higher with a one way ticket into outer space.

The Future

At Mapalife, we believe this growing cremation trend is good for our planet and is good for us – enhancing the memorial process while also reducing the cost of a funeral. Whether ashes are buried, scattered, or planted with a tree, cremation allows us to celebrate and memorialize our loved ones in unique and meaningful ways.

As society and the funeral industry embrace this new form of disposition, we are going to see an increase in our ability to celebrate life. New traditions and celebrations will become commonplace. Our land and planet will appreciate the reduced burial burden. And most importantly, the locations and memories that mean most to us will live on through new forms of memorialization.

4 Things You Should Know About Cremation

When they choose cremation

Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences you’ll ever go through. A lot of strong emotions are attached to the grief you’ll experience—including anger, denial and depression. Stress shouldn’t be one of them, which is often why loved ones will discuss their wishes for their final arrangements before their death.

When wishes are made known to a lawyer, a funeral home, or simply told to family or friends, there is significantly less stress on those left behind. You can set yourself at ease knowing this was what your loved one wanted.  

However, even if we know a loved one wishes to be cremated, knowing what comes next and what it means is another thing. This may be the first cremation in your family and you may have a lot of questions about the process and options available to you.

If your loved one has chosen cremation as part of their final arrangements, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Cremation is popular

Cremation is more popular than you think. In 2015, the cremation rate in the United States rose to 48% and is estimated to reach 71% by 2030 (“Cremation Rate Rises…as Public Attitude Changes”, CANA). Many experts believe that it is rising in popularity, in part, because it is always offering new options and traditions in commemorating the life of a loved one. “With cremation, families have more flexibility in the timing and locations of memorial services, and many options for creativity and personalization in and how and where their loved one’s remains will be placed” (Timothy R. Borden, president-elect of CANA). Cremation services are also offered by most funeral homes, making them more and more accessible.

2. Ashes can be buried

You can still have a burial with ashes. Family plots can (and commonly do) contain buried urns holding ashes. Often, smaller burial plots can be purchased at a cemetery for a more cost-effective burial. Other common resting places for ashes include  columbarium/mausoleums, urn gardens and scattering gardens.

3. Ash scattering is not illegal

Ash scattering is not illegal. Deciding the final resting place of your loved one’s cremated remains is a personal decision, but scattering their ashes is not out of the question. Oftentimes, your loved one may have left a request on where their ashes should be scattered. Check your local laws before making any plans to scatter ashes. A great legal resource to investigate local scattering laws is

4. You can be creative

Ashes allow for creativity in the grieving process. They are easy to transport, and therefore allow families to find unique final resting places. Scattering ashes by water, at favorite vacation spots, or even by air are just a few of the many new traditions available to people. Some of the more popular options and traditions that involve cremated remains include:

The important thing to remember is that there are an infinite number of traditions available to you and your loved ones. As an increasingly popular decision, cremation allows your loved one to make decisions that best suit their character and personality, and create new and unique ways to remember them when they’re gone from this earth.

How to Plan a Scattering Ceremony in 7 Easy Steps

Cremation opens the door to many new ways of mourning and memorializing those we love. Ashes allow for versatility and creativity in the grieving process. One increasingly popular way to memorialize is through what has been coined a “scattering ceremony.”

These ceremonies are completely up to you and your loved one on how they will be carried out. Most commonly, people choose a meaningful location to hold the ceremony and gather family and friends to take part in the scattering of cremated remains.

Before planning the scattering ceremony, there are several things to consider. We have outlined a simple step-by-step checklist to assist you in planning the perfect scattering ceremony for your beloved.

Download full checklist here

1. Timing
Cremated remains have the flexibility of being stored until the time is right for the scattering ceremony. Take into consideration the time of year, the schedules of those participating in the ceremony, and any significant dates you want to incorporate. You may choose to have multiple ceremonies at different times of year. It is ultimately up to you and the wishes of your loved one when it comes to timing.

Remember to store the ashes in a cool, dry location until the time is right. Check with your local funeral home on best practices and if they have a storage facility you can use until the time is right.


2. Location
In many cases when cremation is chosen, a person has communicated the wishes of how ashes should be handled or scattered ahead of time. Sometimes, it is up to those left behind to choose the location of significance for the scattering memorial. In either case, the location is an incredibly important component of the ceremony.

A lot of times locations have significant meaning to the deceased. Perhaps it is the site of a favorite fishing spot, or where they spent their summers vacationing with friends and family. Often, people are even more specific with their location. It could be the tree under which they asked their spouse to marry them, or the rock they were sitting on when they were told they would be a parent for the first time.

After the location is chosen, make sure to communicate it to those who will be taking part in the scattering ceremony. Keep in mind that when ashes are scattered in a location that is not private property, it is best practice to check with local scattering laws and regulations.


3. People
Scattering ceremonies are meant to be time for remembrance and memorializing those who mean the most to us. The people involved in the ceremony will also play a key role in the significance of the ceremony. It may just be you, scattering ashes of your spouse or child in a private ceremony of grief. In other cases, it may make sense to invite family and/or friends in a communal memorialization ceremony.

In either case, take into account the wishes of the deceased and what feels right. Also remember that you can have multiple ceremonies. Perhaps a private scattering ceremony takes place in a location known only to you and the deceased. Later, a more public scattering ceremony could take place in a universally significant place to those invited.

Having additional people take part in the ceremony also allows the organizer to assign roles that assist in the planning. It is common for families to host “celebrations of life” or receptions after scattering ceremonies that may take more time and resources to plan. 


4. Religion
Choosing to introduce any form of faith into a scattering ceremony is an incredibly personal decision. It is best practice to follow the faith of the deceased, and carry out a ceremony that is aligned with their religious beliefs. If the deceased was not affiliated with a church or faith, you can still find ways to add significance and meaning to the ceremony.

If you’re unsure of the religious practices of the deceased’s faith, one place to start is reaching out to their place of worship. Some faiths may allow you to have a pastor or person of faith to conduct the ceremony. This can add significance and take pressure off of you in the planning process.

If the wishes of the deceased were to have a non-religious ceremony, you can also look into hiring a celebrant to conduct the ceremony. These are usually experienced individuals who can carry out the ceremony in an organized and meaningful way. This is also a role you can assign to an attendee (see above).


5. Etiquette
Scattering ashes is a relatively new trend that is growing rapidly in popularity. However, not everyone is accustomed to this new tradition, nor have best practices been spelled out for anyone to follow. This can lead to people doing things like this, or unintentionally offending people who are unaware of what is taking place. It is best to do your research and follow a principle of using your best judgment when it comes to how a scattering ceremony will be carried out.

However, there are a few things you can prepare for when carrying out the scattering ceremony. Take into account the intended use of the location. If you are scattering in a public park or place of recreation, it is most considerate to conduct the ceremony in a quieter location in the park, or a time of day that is not that busy. But remember, always check ahead of time with public locations. In some cases, you may be granted special access to these locations to privately conduct your ceremony.


6. Scattering mode
One of the most important, yet most forgotten about components of a scattering ceremony is how the ashes will actually be transferred to the location. You may be wondering why this matters, but it’s more important than you think. Take the advice of this blogger and consider the logistics of how to physically handle the ashes. Things like wind direction, water, and other elements out of our control will factor into how the ceremony is carried out.

Good news is, with the growing popularity of scattering ceremonies, there are many options available to you in choosing the right scattering mode. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and always consider the wishes of the deceased. Chances are, the mode you choose will make the ceremony that much more meaningful to those who attend.


7. Make it special
The people and location will make the scattering ceremony the most meaningful, but new tools and traditions can help make your ceremony that much more special in commemorating your loved one.

The most popular new tradition is having a reception or “celebration of life” following the scattering ceremony. This can be in a location close by, and similar to a reception after a funeral, gives attendees the opportunity to socialize in remembrance of the deceased.

Another way to add significance to the location is to provide attendees with a token of remembrance in which to signify the location you are scattering ashes. Some popular options for this include: cremation jewelry, gifts with coordinates, or printed pictures of the location.

One thing people often forget about, is that pictures can provide a lot of significance to the event and it’s location. A recommendation is to assign an attendee the role of taking pictures of the location. It is suggested that they not photograph people, in respect to those who are grieving. These photos can help loved ones remember the location and also help when trying to locate the exact spot in the future.

Lastly, while at the location or shortly after, you can mark the location using Maplife. The site allows scattering ceremony locations to be easily marked and shared with friends and family. It is free to use, and offers continued significance to your loved one for generations to come.


This checklist should serve as a guideline, helping you plan the best scattering ceremony for your beloved. The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter when, where, or how you carry out the scattering ceremony, it will always be significant to you and those you love.  

Download full checklist here

How Mapalife is Here for You


Mapalife: A New Idea

Mapalife is a start-up company that provides innovative memorial options for a changing funeral industry. As cremation fast becomes the most common form of disposition in the United States, families are presented with new options (and new challenges) on how to memorialize and remember a loved one. In the summer of 2016, founders Becca and Sam decided to form Mapalife…here’s a glimpse into why:

  • Put simply, Mapalife was created because of an unmet need in the funeral industry.
    • While some are cremated and buried in a cemetery, many are placed to rest – their ashes scattered – in a place of personal significance. For the majority of family members who want to know the final resting place of their relatives, this identifies an unmet need. This need continues to grow as cremation rates rise (from 48% in 2015 to 71% in 2030 according to the NFDA).  
    • Mapalife is here to satisfy that need. By creating a Scattersite page, a relative can easily add long-lasting visibility to a loved one’s unique final resting place by sharing the GPS coordinates with family and friends.
  • The potential to provide value during such a difficult time is what motivates us. Starting out, our main focus is to add significance and traceability to someone’s Scattersite. We believe these special places should be shared and remembered. To accomplish this, we’re working hard to make the process of creating and sharing a Scattersite page easy and affordable.
    • In addition to sharing a loved one’s final resting place, Mapalife will be your go-to source for cremation information. We will provide quality information for those who choose cremation and their families.

“For the majority of family members who want to know the final resting place of their relatives, this [cremation] identifies an unmet need…this need continues to grow as cremation rates rise”

  • Lastly, Mapalife strives to be a catalyst for change. The site will change how society thinks about cremation and how the funeral industry services families. 
    • No spoilers here. We commit ourselves to always provide low-cost memorial options, both traditional and innovative.
    • If you’re interested in providing input or learning more, please email
    • To stay up-to-date on our progress (and sign-up for our beta test), join forces with us here: