Committing To The Deep: An Act of Love
A loving relationship with a family member manifests itself in more ways than we can imagine. Arranging for their eternal rest is also an act of love that may not be recognized as such as we wade through the mechanics of family notifications and making arrangements with a funeral director and estate matters.
Perhaps it was your loved one’s dying wish to be buried at sea. Or, perhaps your loved one did not express a preference for the disposition of his remains and left it for you to decide. Whatever the circumstances, you have been entrusted with, or have taken it upon yourself, to perform a final and enduring act of love: committing their remains to the deep.
A Few Things To Know
Burial at Sea is the term used when you’re immersing a biodegradable urn containing cremated remains. Ash Scattering, on the other hand, is the release of cremated remains on the ocean’s surface. Both practices are commonplace. Other common search terms include immersing ashes, the scattering of the ashes, ocean memorial, and funeral at sea.
1. Family Matters
It goes without saying that all family members should be in agreement regarding the decision to bury at sea. Confer with other family members who will have a say in the final disposition. Everyone needs to be in agreement because scattering ashes is non-reversible.
Some select a burial at sea or ash-scattering location based on convenience, others will return to their loved one’s place of birth, long-time residence or a favorite vacation spot. Keep in mind, most vessels in the Northeast are not in operation from October through May due to harsh weather conditions. Not all coastal cities have commercial marinas, however there’s usually one within a 20 minute drive.
Whether you’re planning a simple service with only a handful of guests or up to 100, the challenge is often working around everyone’s schedule. It’s an even greater challenge if you’re limited to one or two dates because of travel plans or want to perform the burial at sea service on a significant day. Be prepared for an alternative date if the vessel is booked or a stretch of bad weather forces a cancellation. For those reasons and more it’s important to be as flexible as possible.
Helpful Hint- If you’re traveling to the port of departure, plan the memorial service early in your stay to allow for back-up dates in case of poor ocean conditions. Most charters are rain-or-shine but it’s the captain’s call to cancel. High winds, small craft advisories and storm conditions will result in a cancellation to be rescheduled at both your convenience and vessel availability.
4. Passenger Count
Keep a few things in mind. Ideally, you’ll want to have Nationwide Burial At Sea match you with a vessel that will accommodate the number of guests you anticipate. It’s not unusual to start with a larger guest count only to learn that over the course of time some family and friends won’t be in attendance. Try to get as close of a passenger count as possible and keep in mind children are considered passengers as per Coast Guard rules.
5. About the Boat
Expect to be on a commercial fishing or sightseeing vessel. More than likely, it will be motorboat, head boat or sport fishing boat. Because these crafts cater to the public they are inspected annually by the Coast Guard. Vessels. Most vessels are not handicap accessible, but if the individual can stand and take a few steps with assistance, then it’s possible to get them aboard. Portable wheelchairs can be placed on board, but not the heavier self-powered chairs unless boarding is via a boat ramp. Even then, many ramps begin or end with a high step. Always communicate to your captain or their staff if you have anyone with special needs.
A word about vessel safety and life preservers for ash scattering ceremonies: All commercial vessels will have life jackets on board, however, they are not distributed unless needed. If you have children and want them to wear a life jacket while on board (suggested), be sure to advise us. Note, very small sizes for toddlers and infants may not be available but you can purchase them online at reasonable cost. Footwear is important for funerals at sea as well. Always wear sneakers or flat-soled shoes. If you’re inviting guests, be sure to advise against high-heels or flip-flops.
Check out my other blogs for more information about sea sickness and what not to wear.