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How Long Does It Take To Arrange a Burial at Sea?

The short answer is: While it’s possible to arrange a funeral at sea service within a day, several weeks or even months is recommended.

The longer answer is: There are several very important factors to consider when planning a burial at sea. But first allow me to say this - Do not plan the date with family and friends without first checking availability. I wish I could say it’s uncommon to have a family plan a memorial service at sea, only to learn it can’t be accommodated. Take for example a very recent conversation I had with a client who invited relatives from overseas to join in for a memorial at sea from New York. Her guest list would only number ten passengers, however she didn’t know that most vessels aren’t in operation during the winter in the Northeast. In addition, she only called just few days ahead of the scheduled event. A quick phone call would have saved this family from emotional duress and the added expense for those that traveled.

To plan for a burial at sea, follow this 3 question rule -

Who? When? and Where?

Who will be invited? Just immediate family? Might the list include extended family, friends and coworkers? The larger the number of attendees, the longer the plan cycle. I often tell my clients, “Planning a sea burial around everyone's schedule is probably the most challenging part of this process, apart from the obvious - the loss of your loved one.”

One good method of finding a suitable date is to pick a 1st, 2nd and 3rd date when everyone is available. Once you have these dates to target, you can then call for vessel availability.

When will it be? Time of year will greatly impact availability, especially if you’re looking at a holiday weekend. And, as in the example above, winter in the Northeast may render very few choices because most vessels are pulled from the water in October and don’t become operational until April. Weekdays are generally better than weekends. And, late afternoon over an early day departure will not only provide for the best availability, but also save money because morning and midday are prime time and priced accordingly.

Where will it be? The three most common selections of port are, 1- Close to home. 2 - A favorite vacation spot. 3 - The original home of the deceased.

A funeral at sea close to home provides for the most flexibility and ease of planning. Rescheduling an ash scattering ceremony due to rain or high winds isn’t a problem as only a new date needs to be agreed upon.

A favorite vacation spot is the second most common. Plan the service early in your stay to allow for back up dates in the event of a weather event.

Returning the ashes to the original home of the deceased usually means the family will be required to travel some distance for the sole purpose of scattering the ashes at sea. The length of stay is likely short, not allowing for much wiggle room in terms of backup rain dates.

Planning a service within days or several months out needn't be a stressful endeavor. At Teraloom, we're here to offer our support and knowledge, so you may focus on what's closest to your heart: honoring your loved one.

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