The Golden Rule of Spreading Ashes 4

Thank you to everyone who has submitted questions! This blog wouldn’t be alive with you. With all the campaigning for this years election and interviews for the book, it’s nice to spend some time writing about what I know best; Death. Here are a couple questions we recently received.


-Why is a permit needed when spreading cremation ashes? What about for spreading them at sea?

I obviously don’t write the rules, so don’t take this answer as gospel truth. But, when it comes to the spreading of ashes, a permit is required simply because ‘they can’. I don’t know of any official reasons why it is required. Now, if you’ll stand by while I put my tongue in my cheek….I will say a lot of people dispose of ashes throughout the world, in various ways, and never ask permission. There are no cremains police running around arresting people. The position of almost every party involved is, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone of authority interrupted the beautiful and emotional act of spreading your loved ones ashes to cite you. There is one Golden rule: Take the identifier out of the ashes! Don’t just dump them. There are identifiers (usually round metal tags) that are put in the cremains at the crematory. Though the risk is very minimal, if someone finds the identifier and decides to check on whether a permit was acquired, it can be traced back to you.  Be careful and/or follow the rules.

Things are a little different when it comes to spreading ashes at sea. The law states that the cremains should be put in a permanent container designed to sink them to the bottom of the sea. It has something to do with the Clean Water Act. I am guessing they don’t want a bunch of loose ashes hanging out in the water. The permitting process would be helpful for you to discover all of the rules involved. For instance, you are supposed to be at least three nautical miles off the shore before dropping any cremains. You are also directed to determine the coordinates of where you have dropped them and report back to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 30 days. This is understandable, as they would like to be aware of the points that permanent containers are being dropped in to the ocean. Again, though, I am quite certain many people spread ashes out in the sea without following these guidelines. It is really more a moral decision than anything else.


-How much time goes by before a body gets stiff?

The time for a body to get stiff (or go into rigor mortis) varies based on several factors: age, muscle build, temperature, etc. A general rule is that a body will start to go into rigor about 2 to 4 hours after death. It should be in full rigor after 6 to 10 hours. Rigor will typically start receding around 20 hours and be pretty much gone after 24 hours or so.

Have any other questions? Throw them my way! Don’t forget to subscribe so you can be notified when the answers pop up.

(We received a question related to investigating a suicide by a person named Andy. Hey, Andy, if you’re seeing this, send a quick email to so I can get back to you! Very intriguing stuff and I’d like to send you some thoughts I have.)

Where do the braces go?

Here are a few answers to this week’s interesting questions!

When people die that have braces on, do you leave them on or remove them when you are preparing the body for burial or cremation?

Braces and any other type of orthodontic gear is left in place regardless of the type of burial/cremation being performed. That being said, anyone viewing your body would not be able to see or notice the braces. There is a lot done to the mouth when preparing a body for a showing and the mouth will always be fully closed at a showing.

When preparing the mouth, with or without braces, a needle injector is used to insert a tack with a long wire attached to it. One wire is inserted in the upper jaw (maxilla) and one in the lower jaw (mandible) and then the two wires are twisted together until the mouth is securely closed. Often, a piece of cotton or other type of mouth former is placed over the teeth to give a fuller, smoother look. With braces, cotton may be used to fill in any gaps or smooth out any edges created by the hardware. The lips are then glued closed. An alternative to the wire method is to use a ligature and a curved needle. The prepare would insert the needle in the mouth upward under the nose, across the top of the mouth and back down into the bottom jaw, then across the jaw and back out (four points). The ligature would then be tied together to secure the mouth closed.

Does a person pee or poop at the last moment of death?

The answer is sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. It varies from death to death and person to person. The most common thing we see is incontinence with urine. Poop is most often found with cardiac related deaths. This usually ties in to something we call “The Death Poop.” People with cardiac issues often have an overwhelming urge to use the bathroom and unfortunately end up passing away on the toilet.

Have a question to ask Jacquie? Make your way to the “Ask” tab on the website and submit a question to be answered. All questions are anonymous, even to Jacquie. In order to keep this blog interesting, we rely on you to ask all the questions you can think of!

If you’re hungry for more right now, check out Jacquie’s new book, released this week: Spoiler Alert: You’re Gonna Die. It’s filled with all the questions you won’t see here on the blog, as well as an abundance of information, humor and tips on how to prepare for death.

Bigger than Bodies.

I’m mostly known for managing dead bodies. Really though, my job is so much more than that. I facilitate the final pieces of the puzzle that is a person’s life. My job, by definition, is to answer two questions: What was the person’s cause of death and what was the manner of death? That’s it. Once I answer those two questions, I have met the minimum requirements of the job. Death, however, often leaves behind a whole lot more than those two questions. I work with the decedent (person who died) to find the answers. I am their final voice. At the scene of a death, there is a collaborative effort between the police agency doing their investigation and me doing mine. Though we have very different goals, certain areas tend to overlap and we are able to work together to find those answers – to complete that puzzle. We all contribute various pieces and ultimately we get them to fit and finalize the case. My unique skill set and advanced certifications make me one of the few people able to facilitate all these pieces fitting together correctly. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I carry each family with me. I remember them. I think about them throughout the years.

I work with the dead because it completes my life.

I am here, writing this, because I feel that another part of my job is to help those affected by death. Which basically includes every single living person. (Yeah, you). Death happens. And not many people talk about it until a tragic situation forces them to. Though sorrow plays a huge part, there are many other aspects of death. Some entertaining, creepy, funny, and all together important aspects. As someone who is surrounded by all the angles day in and day out, I hope I can provide some of whatever you are looking for. Whether it’s about the fascinating world of corpses, shocking elements of my cases, finding closure of a death you have experienced, or learning more about processing a dead body, I am here, ready to provide answers. Death is all around us. Let’s talk about it – any and every part of it!



Unveiling Death One Question at a Time