As you probably know, life began in the ocean, first starting as single-cell organisms before evolving into the plethora of life now surrounding you. This may be why some people choose burial at sea instead of the more traditional means of interment, i.e. being buried in the ground. From water they came, to water shall they return.
A burial at sea ceremony represents one of the most time-honored ways of saying final goodbyes to loved ones. In fact, the practice has been conducted throughout history by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Vikings, those rugged warriors of the sea, are known to have brought this tradition to the British Isles in 700 A.D. As a result, British seafarers and the British navy often perform sea burials for fallen comrades. In modern times, many U.S. Navy servicemen still choose burial at sea, the most honorable way to be laid to rest in their view.
However, people don’t have to be in the armed forces to receive a burial at sea. Charters like Schooners North, in the San Juan Islands of Washington, offer such services to bereaved families.
In fact, burials at sea are gaining popularity. In an interview with MotherJones.com, Ann Rodney of the New England Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ocean and coastal unit confirms the trend, saying, “I have noticed a great increase in interest in burial at sea . . . ten years ago, I might get one or two calls a year about it. Now I get at least one call a week.”
People can choose how they want to be buried at sea. Some choose to be cremated before their ashes are scattered at sea. In fact, many renowned people left this as their final wish, including beloved opera singer Maria Callas. Others, however, prefer a full-body burial–the entire body left to be reclaimed by the sea.
While the former option is rather straightforward, full-body sea burials are a bit more complex. The law mandates that such burials must occur at least three miles offshore, in waters measuring at least 600 feet deep for health and safety reasons. Furthermore, the family needs to notify the EPA at least 30 days prior to the final voyage.
As such, it is important to find a cruise service knowledgeable about such standards and procedures, ensuring that a loved one’s final wishes are carried out without a hitch, and according to instructions.
Burial at Sea: A Time-Honored Tradition, military.com
Water Burials, history.co.uk