Inside the Book


I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen

You might ask how I decided to write a book like this. I am not a funeral director, nor have I ever had dreams of becoming one (although I was a big fan of the TV show Six Feet Under). I am not a grief counselor, although I do occasionally give people grief. The idea simply came from a talk I had with my ninety-seven year-old mother. At the time of my father’s death, my mother, who was in shock as she made funeral arrangements, ordered a single cemetery plot for Dad. I was a teenager at the time and not deeply involved in helping with the plans.

Fast forward thirty-eight years, when my mother sat me down to talk about what she wanted when her time came.

“I could buy a double plot for your father and me,” she mused. “But that would be complicated since we would have to unearth your father. I’m sure he is comfortable just where he is. And it would feel strange if I had a separate plot somewhere in the cemetery and not next to him.”

“Have you considered cremation?” I asked.

She thought for a while and then nodded. “I like that idea, but I don’t want my ashes to be cooped up in an urn.”

“I’m sure you have choices about what you might do with your ashes.” I said that without really knowing what her choices might be. But then she smiled and started to think out loud.

“Well, you can put a bit of me right over your father’s grave,” she started. “That way you can visit both of us there. And you know my favorite tree in your backyard? Sprinkle some of me there too. I also want to be scattered over Candlewood Lake, where we spent many lovely summers together as a family.”

“I can do that for you,” I said.

She patted my hand and said, “Thank you.”

It wasn’t long after my conversation with my mother that I began asking friends if they had thought about what they wanted to do with themselves once they passed on. I was surprised at how many people said they wanted to be cremated. Some had clear ideas about where they wanted to be scattered, but many said they hadn’t figured that out yet. They also mentioned that their parents were thinking of cremation, and what to do with their ashes was still up in the air.

I wondered if there was a book that offered suggestions about scattering, types of urns you can choose, and tips and techniques. I discovered that there were none. I then asked my friends: if they had a book that offered a wide range of suggestions of scattering options and other helpful advice, would they find that valuable? The resounding reply was yes.

I started doing research and began documenting the many commercially available scattering services that are offered. This led me to think of ideas of my own—some playful, some creative, some very unconventional, and some just plain irreverent. Like shoe sizes, one scattering option doesn’t fit all.

As I worked on this book, one thought kept remerging. People want to have a say in what kind of funeral they would like. If it’s their last production, they want to direct it: who speaks, the kind of service given, what music is played, where it takes place. If cremation is chosen, then how and where they want their ashes scattered is just as important.


How do you start a book on the many ways and options you have if you decide to scatter your ashes? The subject assumes that you or someone you care about has considered cremation. The thought that our life will eventually have an end is something that most of us would rather postpone thinking about. But our life on earth does come to an end for all of us, and what happens after that is matter of whatever your belief system is.

Maybe there’s a heaven, maybe a hell, maybe reincarnation, maybe nothing at all. If there is a heaven, you might be headed there. If you were on Santa’s naughty list, you might be headed to a hotter climate. If you have a Buddhist point of view, you might believe you get another chance in your next life. Then, of course, maybe there is nothing after the lights go out. If so, there’s nothing to worry about since there will be nothing to worry about.

Putting aside all these possibilities, you still need to ask yourself, “What is the last way I want to be remembered?” - along with the eloquent eulogies that will have people grabbing for wads of Kleenex at your funeral.

Most of us can agree that once our life spirit leaves our body, what is left is our body–the container we carried around for years, the one that went to school, had friends and maybe a family, went to Disneyland, had a job, and collected a lifetime of experiences, hopefully mostly good.


If you are reading this book, then something about the title probably caught your eye. Maybe you are thinking ahead, deciding that cremation might be an option for you or your loved ones. If cremation is a choice, then the question is “So I have been transformed into ashes; now what should I do with them?”

What you can do with your ashes as a final statement is what this book is all about–and there’s no other book like it. There are more than a hundred suggestions of ways that you can scatter your ashes. Some are thoughtful, some are funny. Some are truly creative, some are irreverent. What you choose can reflect your personality, a final statement you want to make, or something meaningful that puts you in the director’s chair for your final act in the play that was your life.

If cremation is a considered choice, this book provides a way to start thinking and discussing this subject, especially with the ones you love. This is a book that offers some creative ideas, with a few chuckles along the way.

Furthermore, for the first time you have a book that compiles most of the commercially available scattering possibilities in a single volume, along with some of my own suggestions.

For example, did you know that you can disperse your earthly remains by being packed into fireworks, or have them shot into space, placed inside a time capsule, scattered around exotic locales anywhere in the world, turned into a real diamond, or cast into a pink flamingo lawn sculpture?

So You’re Cremated … Now What? is not a somber how-to manual. It is written with humor in a tongue-in-cheek style that starts out with a little history, then gives you some funeral tips along with cremation dos and don’ts. After that, you can burn through these pages and read some sizzling ideas about what you can do with your ashes–whether scattered, buried, mailed or left outside with the recycling. Some of these ideas will have numbers following them that refer to commercially available services you can make use of. And for those of you who want to be reassured that other people have chosen cremation, you'll find a list of some of our more famous predecessors.

I hope you will benefit from these thought-provoking and entertaining possibilities to help you make a lasting final statement. Happy scatterings!