Psychological Implications of Full Body Sea Burial

The disposition of a human body through full-body burial at sea is an ancient tradition and runs through many cultures. It is a unique funeral tradition, however, is infrequently used in our modern culture for various reasons. We will discuss some reasons for this and how to address them.

Some psychological issues related to full-body burial at sea can be genuine and essential for families considering this option. One can overcome some problems by educating oneself about this process. And some, like religion, come down to a belief system.  Some physiological factors worth considering are;

Full Body Sea Burial Tradition

A lovely way to deal with a deceased loved one.

Closure with Full Body Sea Burial

For many people, seeing the deceased’s body and having a traditional funeral can provide a sense of closure. The standard funeral service is something they are familiar with, and it provides them with a sense of peace. With full body burial at sea, there may be no opportunity to view the body. This may make it difficult for some people to accept the reality of their death and fully process their grief. The disposal at sea is also an unfamiliar experience and may well generate a sense of uncomfortableness.

Guilt and Regret

If someone were to decide on a full-body burial at sea against the wishes of the deceased or their family, the loved ones might experience guilt and regret. Even when the decision is made in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, the unfamiliarity and uniqueness of the process may cause discomfort.

Environmental concerns

For those who prioritize ecological sustainability, the notion of a full-body burial at sea as a funeral traditions may spark apprehension. However, it is essential to note that when conducted properly, this method of disposition is much less polluting than a comparable land burial. This is due to various factors, including the absence of embalming, the use of outer burial containers, reduced land use, and the elimination of the traditional casket.

Marine Ecosystem Concerns with Full Body

Some people may view full-body sea burial in a negative light because it could harm marine ecosystems. However, individuals can alleviate these concerns by avoiding embalming, using a shroud instead of a casket, and selecting a burial location that is not environmentally sensitive.

Cultural or religious beliefs

Certain cultural or religious beliefs may prohibit or discourage full-body burial at sea. This may well create conflict and distress for those responsible for end-of-life decisions. Several religious beliefs frown upon full-body burial at sea as a funeral tradition.

Religious beliefs around full body sea burial

Judaism: According to Jewish law, burial in the ground is the preferred method of disposition. Full body burial at sea is generally not allowed, as people believe the body should be buried in the earth, a sacred and holy place.

Islam: Islamic law generally requires that the deceased are buried on land facing Mecca. Full body burial at sea is not allowed unless there are no other options, such as during a sea voyage where land interment is impossible.

Christianity: While Christianity does not prohibit full-body burial at sea, some denominations prefer burial on land. However, exceptions are made for certain circumstances, such as military personnel or those who worked at sea.

Hinduism: Hinduism states that one should cremate the body and scatter the ashes in a body of water, preferably the Ganges River or any other suitable body of water. While some modern Hindus may opt for a full-body burial at sea, it is not a common practice.

Buddhism: Buddhists generally prefer cremation as the method of disposition, although full-body burial is also allowed. However, burial at sea is not a common practice in Buddhist culture.

Fear of the Unknown

Some people may feel uneasy with full-body burial at sea because it is unfamiliar and may seem daunting or even scary. It involves the uncertainty and lack of control that may come with this method of disposition. When someone dies, their loved ones may experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and grief. These feelings can be exacerbated when the loved one’s body is disposed of in a way unfamiliar to them.

Full-body sea burial involves placing the deceased person’s body in the ocean, which may be a new and unfamiliar experience for some. This act can be incredibly challenging for those who have a solid attachment to the physical body. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with the idea of their loved one’s remains being placed in an unknown location. 

Fear of the Unknow regarding full body sea burial

The fear of not knowing what will happen to the body can be difficult. Perhaps being unable to visit or pay respects at a grave site may also be a source of anxiety and distress.

To conquer the fear of the unknown linked with full-body sea burial, one must obtain a better understanding of the process.   One can seek help from loved ones or professionals. Here are some specific strategies that may be helpful:

Education: Learning more about the full-body sea burial process can help to alleviate fears and concerns. This process may involve researching the method of disposition, talking to professionals who specialize in this area, or attending informational sessions or workshops.

Communication: Talking openly and honestly with loved ones about fears and concerns can help to reduce anxiety and build a support system. Discuss feelings and concerns, share memories and stories, or plan a memorial or celebration of life.

Speaking with someone familiar with this type of disposition method.

Self-care: Taking care of one’s emotional and physical health can also help manage the fear of the unknown. Self-care will involve seeking support from a therapist or counselor, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, or engaging in activities that bring joy and comfort.

Planning: Making a clear plan for full-body sea burial, including details such as location and timing, can also help to reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Planning is done with the help of a professional or through discussions with loved ones.

Overall, the best way to overcome the fear of the unknown related to full-body sea burial is to educate oneself.  Communicate with loved ones, prioritize self-care, and make a clear plan for the method of disposition. By taking these steps, individuals can feel more empowered and in control and may find greater peace and acceptance around the end-of-life process.


In conclusion, whole-body burial at sea as a funeral tradition can raise psychological issues for the deceased’s loved ones. It is essential to consider all options and weigh potential benefits and drawbacks before proceeding with a course of action when deciding on end-of-life arrangements.

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