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Planning a Burial at Sea? Expectations Could Make or Break Your Memorial Service

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

The Expectation:

A beautiful sunset service, with family and friends gathered on board a handsome boat as you gently release your loved one’s cremated remains into a blue/green ocean. You’ve carefully selected music as a backdrop, printed out a program of several prayers or readings and will scatter the ashes from the container your funeral provider gave you.

The Reality:

Unless you’ve carefully calculated the time of departure to coincide with sunset, you're likely going out at the end of the charter day, typically 3:00 to 6:00 PM. The vessel is primarily used for fishing, scuba diving or as a water taxi and while clean, it isn’t a yacht. The music is being drowned out (no pun) by the engines because sea swells are four feet and the captain must keep the vessel going to cut through waves at 6 knots to keep everyone from being tossed about. At least one guest slipped away to the head (rest room) because reading threw off their equilibrium, causing sea sickness. The captain or mate says you’ve reached the site of internment, tells you where to stand and assists with opening the urn, but the cremated remains are in a plastic bag and you’re basically dumping them as the bag flaps in the wind.

Does this sound like an exaggeration? I assure you, it’s not.

Knowing before you go, being prepared will allow you to have the sea service you envisioned for your final goodbyes. We fully explain to our clients what to expect, the do's and don’ts if you will. Most come around with the understanding that they don’t know what they don’t know and are relieved that someone is being honest and candid. The last thing we at Teraloom want is to give a false impression of what a burial at sea is really like. Expectation Management.

Fishing and other commercial vessels are used because they are affordable and Coast Guard inspected for safety. Captains and mates are respectful and are there to assist you in every way. We're often asked if the boat will smell like fish. Captains take great pride in their vessels and clean with a disinfectant to mitigate any lingering odor.

What can be done to meet a client’s best expectations? Teraloom walks you through the process and what to expect. The Guide provides additional material to gain a better understanding of the experience once on board and covers topics such as sea sickness and how to best avoid it. Teraloom Burial At Sea's Guide

Unless a funeral provider knows a client plans to scatter the ashes, he or she will not offer a biodegradable urn / scattering tube.

Scattering and Burial Urns are readily available with free shipping.

So really, what can you expect? You can expect to come away from this experience with memories that will last a lifetime. You can expect a sense of closure unlike any funeral experience you’ve ever attended. You'll know that your loved one is free in the expansiveness of our seas, traveling the ocean currents for all time.

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