'Scatter Day' honors lost loved ones - Albuquerque Journal

‘Scatter Day’ honors lost loved ones

A final resting place, a memorial, a grave site – these are things Chris Keller says many people who cremate their loved ones never see.

He’s trying to change that for families in Albuquerque.

Keller, the executive director for Sunset Memorial Park, started its “Scatter Day” program two years ago. One Saturday a year, the park invites families with cremated loved ones to spread their ashes and engrave the name of the deceased in stone at no cost. This year’s event will be on Saturday.

“We’re trying to change the conversation and culture about how important a final resting place is,” Keller said. About 80% of the families who brought their loved one’s ashes to Scatter Day in the past two years had them at home for decades, even generations. Keller said people tell him it’s because they “didn’t know what to do.”

Instead of moving an urn from a mantle, to a closet, to the attic or the basement, he hopes the event will finally give people the opportunity to lay their loved ones to rest.

“When people see the urn (boxed up) they feel guilty and they don’t know what to do with them,” Keller said.

In its first year, the event drew close to 400 families, who scattered about 1,200 remains.

“When people showed up, there was a palpable sense of relief,” he said. Close to 20% of people who have come to the event have told him they only got their loved one cremated because of the cost of a funeral or because they wanted to hold onto their loved one a little longer.

Keller said he knows families sometimes cremate their loved one with a specific place in mind, like the mountains or a golf course where their dad played for years, but while those areas might change over time, the cemetery “will always be a cemetery.”

People can choose to pour the ashes into an underground vault with a spout that opens into the middle of a flower garden, or scatter them into a rose garden at the park.

At first, Scatter Day was not advertised as a solution for pet owners who had lost their furry friends, but after one man showed up with 24 little urns, Keller said that had to change.

Anyone holding on to the ashes of a pet can scatter them in the Best Friends Pet Cemetery on site.

After laying the ashes to rest, families choose between a wall in the rose garden, a wall of multi-colored granite and stone panels, or a brick path to engrave the name of their lost loved one.

The event costs Sunset Memorial Park about $20,000 a year, but Keller said the cost doesn’t really matter, as long as families are getting what they need.

“I don’t like the term ‘closure,’ ” he said, “because you never stop remembering your loved one. The act of choosing that final resting place though, that seems to open some doors in people’s hearts.”

Home » News » Albuquerque News » ‘Scatter Day’ honors lost loved ones

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
8 bikers shot, 3 dead during motorcycle rally in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Multiple people were shot Saturday afternoon ... Multiple people were shot Saturday afternoon at a bar in Red River as the town geared up for an annual motorcycle rally.
'Truth or Consequences' ranks as one of the best ...
ABQnews Seeker
It's the summer of 1970 and ... It's the summer of 1970 and Daniel Asa Rose and Tony Wilson, both 20 years old and best friends since sixth grade, are about ...
Wine and secrets get spilled in the comedy 'Drinking ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater ... "Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater on June 2, running on weekends through June 25.
Photographer, author Chris Rainier to bring 'Cultures on the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents ... Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents "Cultures on the Edge: A Journey into Indigenous Ways of Being" at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
National Theatre Live production 'Best of Enemies' to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Best of Enemies" was the winner ... "Best of Enemies" was the winner of the 2022 Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and nominated for the 2022 Olivier Award for ...
Mysterious garden holes are the traps of antlions
ABQnews Seeker
At this stage of life they ... At this stage of life they create those perfect round holes which are actually traps for unsuspecting ground crawling insects.
The Met Live comes to the Lensic with 'The ...
ABQnews Seeker
Opera fans can head to the ... Opera fans can head to the Lensic Performing Arts Center for "The Met Live in HD: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)" at 11 a.m. ...
Bond House Museum to showcase Santa Fe Opera props, ...
ABQnews Seeker
The exhibition represents a collaboration between ... The exhibition represents a collaboration between the opera and the San Gabriel Historical Society and the Española Valley Opera Guild.
'The Nature of Glass' explores the medium through a ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Nature of Glass" focuses on ... "The Nature of Glass" focuses on 28 contemporary works by such household names as Judy Chicago, Georgia O'Keeffe and Preston Singletary.