We meet on the deck as strangers. Two hours later, we exchange a warm embrace, forever connected by a shared experience as deep as the ocean–the release of a loved one’s remains. As facilitator on many burial at sea – ash scattering ceremonies, I have had a front row seat to witness the magical powers and awe-inspiring nature of the sea. Its power to heal, transform, and bring families closer together–in a situation where people’s emotions can range from awful to awkward–is unparalleled. During our darkest hour, why not leave it to the mystical forces of nature and her ineffable beauty to console us?
“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” –Kate Chopin

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

I am no stranger to the excruciating pain that can accompany the loss of a loved one. Even more so when the death is sudden or at the person’s own hand—suicide. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the death, an emotional tailspin for survivors can follow, rendering some of us barely functional. For next of kin, the unavoidable task of making final preparations can seem daunting. Fortunately, Burial At Sea has made the process of saying goodbye as simple and seamless as possible. This is why I’ve chosen to be part of their caring team. We’re here to help you every step of the way. Rest assured your point of contact will be with an experienced funeral director who will coordinate the arrangements to your specifications. Whether it’s a memorial service or celebration of life on the water, we take pride in going above and beyond expectations to meet your family’s needs and to ensure this sacred ceremony is both personalized and comforting.
“The memorial ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, it’s a way for you to mourn. Treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember.” —Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

A Customary Sea Burial Ceremony

If scattering in San Diego, after about 45 minutes of motoring, we find ourselves in the still, peaceful waters of the Pacific ocean.  Family and friends gather on the bow (front deck) of the yacht. Mother nature’s setting of warm sun, briny air, and glistening waves serve as a gentle reminder that there’s a force larger and grander than ourselves.
Wreaths for sea burial

A moment of silence, with heads, bowed, our hearts and mind merge as one to honor the life and legacy of a beloved. Incomparable stillness and reverence. Prayers, poems, lively stories, fond memories of a lost loved one are shared. Reflections. The cremains interspersed with a rainbow of rose petals are carefully lowered and released. The captain rings a bell. The reverberation sends chills. The vast openness and beauty of the natural setting are far more spiritual and intimate than a funeral home.

As a client’s selected song plays, the ocean’s enveloping energy can be palpable as we watch the water slowly engulf the colorful offering as it becomes one with the greater universe. Flowers for sea burial are an important part of ceremony, they create an atmosphere.  After the final farewell, the yacht slowly makes its way back to shore.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” –Jacques Cousteau

Better than SeaWorld

Most always after a burial at sea in the San Diego area, we cruise along the bait docks, pausing to get a closer look at the sea critters frolicking.
They remind us that life goes on.
Collectively, the mood lightens and the “arrf, arrf” from sea lions and their pups, dolphins, and cormorants provide much needed comic relief.
Sea Lions on the Bait Barge
Spirits lifted, check.

Most Families Now Select Cremation

End-Of-Life preferences are evolving. In 2018, more people are opting for cremation, in California the cremation rate is over 60%.  Sea burial is also far less expensive than an in-ground burial. No land is required and no urn is required. There are advantages for the environment as well. A land burial requires resources. The lack of a casket or headstone cuts down on natural materials such as wood, stone, and metals. This, in turn, benefits the planet as well as your pocketbook. It eliminates cemetery costs and lessens the ecological footprint. Some families may choose to use a bio-degradable urn, and these are relatively inexpensive. When cremains are released back to nature, they degrade in the environment very quickly. For people cremated using Alkaline Hydrolysis, we do recommend using a biodegradable urn.

Sea Burial Ash Scattering A practical and respectful way to release a loved one’s remains

Devotion to the Ocean – Sea Burial

Burial at Sea Crew
From serving one’s country in the navy, to fishing in the bay, surfing the California coastline, scuba diving in San Felipe, swimming in La Jolla Cove or just soaking up the sun and sand, for many who’ve had a lifelong love affair with the ocean, Burial At Sea is the quintessential final resting place. It’s comforting to hear guests reflect on their fond memories of growing up on or near the water. “My father used to take us sailing when we were little. This is exactly what my Dad wanted” or “Mom loved the ocean” is a familiar expression that always elicits knowing smiles.
We are big advocates of setting your loved one free! It’s doubtful that the departed wished to be bound to a mantel or confined to a shelf in the closet. We think they’d want to be released and sent on their way with their family’s blessing. Others may it find it comforting to know their ashes will not be a constant reminder that they have passed.

My comfort will come from the sea. The stillness of calm waves will gently drift by I will be as one with the sea. When the sun sets on the ocean blue, remember me as I will always remember you. As the sun rises, go live life as full as can be. Apart you and me, but be at peace for I am free. –Captain Chad Theesfeld

sound Waves – many Unique Stories

True story. On one of my charters, the deceased gentleman was a professional scuba instructor in his later years. His daughter cherry-picked the fitting Beatle’s song “Octopus’s Garden” which raised everyone’s spirits.
Of course, we also have more traditional classics such as Amazing Grace, Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo and many other appropriate-to-the-setting songs. Music and nature can combine to create a perfect mood for paying tribute to someone lost but never forgotten.
“Nature has always been my church. To me, this is far more spiritual and intimate than being in a stuffy, brick and mortar funeral home. It’s the way to go. And when I leave this earth, I intend to make a splash!” ~Mo Mellady
Funerals Your Way
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