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5 Beautiful Reasons to Plant a Memory Tree

a living tribute tree

Throughout history, trees have represented life and the fundamental elements of existence. They provide shelter, fruit, and fuel. We nurture trees and receive nourishment in return. From children’s stories like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to the parables of Jesus, trees remain a symbol of life and connection. 

In this article, we look at five beautiful reasons to plant a memory tree in honor of your loved one.

1. Memory Trees Represent Hope

Bible verse text for Psalm 1:3 (ESV)

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:3 (ESV)

A palm tree in the desert or an old oak along an abandoned road instantly evokes strong emotions. We think of rest, security, and relief. Trees serve as landmarks, shelter, and sustenance for weary travelers. They offer nourishment — which is why they are often used in stories that involve physical or spiritual comfort. Trees represent hope.

Often, trees appear at moments of transformation. Many mythologies place trees at pivotal moments in the story. Sometimes, anthropomorphic trees speak. Other times, their tall trunks and long branches point heavenward. In most instances, the upward reach of tree branches reminds people of their journey to something higher.

Finally, trees recall the process of resurrection. A tiny seed, buried in the earth, bursts forth into a tall, strong trunk with waving branches. This symbolic victory over death appears throughout religious literature, including Christianity. In the Bible, almost every major figure has a tree linked to their story in some way—from Noah receiving the olive branch to Moses in front of the burning bush. Additionally, Jesus’ earthly existence symbolically interconnects with trees from his childhood to his death and ultimately, his resurrection. 

2. Memorial Trees Help the Environment

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think I shall never see
A Poem as lovely as a tree.

From Trees by Joyce Kilmer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trees_(poem)

Trees benefit the natural world. They clean our air — absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Wildlife makes their homes in trees and forests rely on tree root systems for nourishment. They also help clean water and give nutrients back into the soil. 

The relationship of giving to and receiving from the earth can continue when you plant a memory tree. This living memorial will create a home for wildlife, clean the air, and add nutrients to the surrounding soil. 

3. Trees Celebrate the Natural World

Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…

Proverbs 11:30 (ESV)

Planting trees to honor someone’s life has become such a meaningful gift and one that truly represents the Cycle of Life. As one life ends, something new grows from the loss. Planting trees lets you express your sympathy while also celebrating the natural world. 

Season to season and year after year, the tree will endure and grow stronger. As it blossoms with life, your loved one’s memorial will celebrate the natural world. 

4. Memory Trees Create a Personal Moment

Special Garden Poem

There’s a very special garden
Where the trees of memory grow
Nurtured by the kindness
And concern that good friends show. 
The roots are cherished memories
Of good times in the past
The branches tender promises
That souls endure and last. 

Author Unknown, Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/23714335525454905/

Twice each year, we open our secluded, private garden to visitors so they may visit their loved one’s memorial. During this time, our guests walk through nature and enjoy the serene setting. When they visit a memory tree, they have an opportunity to partake in a personal moment of reflection.

Standing before a thriving memory tree, our guests can listen to the rustling of leaves and feel at peace with their beloved’s passing. 

5. Memory Trees Become a Living Memorial

When We Lose Someone Poem

When we lose someone we love
We must learn
Not to live without them, 
But to live
With the love they left behind.

Anonymous, Source: ​​https://healingbrave.com/blogs/all/grief-quotes-love-never-dies

Planting a memory tree creates beautiful remembrance of a person’s life. Year after year, the tree will stand tall against the backdrop of the changing seasons. In the fall, orange and red leaves from the surrounding landscape will frame the tree. During the wintertime, squirrels may explore the dormant limbs. Throughout the spring, birds will nest among the budding branches as wildflowers grow on the nearby mountains. The sun will shine upon the rustling leaves throughout the summer, casting lovely shadows across the memorial stone at the tree’s base. 

In the same way that your loved one’s legacy changed and grew throughout their time on this earth, their memory tree will illustrate the seasons of their life.

Plant a Memory Tree in the Blue Ridge Mountains

To commemorate a loved one’s life, we will plant a Memory Tree to serve as a living tribute that could stand for hundreds of years. The memory tree will be planted near our secluded Scattering Garden in Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. After placing your order, you may choose an evergreen or deciduous tree.

We will respectfully scatter the ashes during the planting process, and place an engraved, personalized memorial stone beneath their Memory Tree. A Memory Tree can also be planted without the ashes of a loved one. (Some families simply want a living memorial to stand for their loved one.)  

You will be able to visit the tree when we open our grounds for Days of Celebration. We hold these twice a year: once in the spring, and again in the fall…when the site is at its most beautiful.
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about planting memory trees. Call us at 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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5 Beautiful Reasons to Plant a Memory Tree
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Prayers, Poems, and Bible Verses to Read When you Visit a Memorial Tree

best memorial trees

Memorial trees have become a lovely way to honor someone’s legacy. Our memory trees are situated on our secluded, private property—recognized by the County and permanently safe from development. The location is not set up for day-to-day traffic. So, we open the property twice a year for a special “Day of Celebration”. 

Once in the spring, and again in the fall, we invite friends and family members to visit their loved one’s memorial tree on our property. It’s a meaningful time to visit, remember and reflect.

Table of Contents

Prayers of Remembrance
Poems about Loss
Bible Verses about Heaven

During our celebration days, family members often mark the moment with a few private words of remembrance. We’ve collected some popular prayers, poems, and Bible verses that you may like to read when you visit a memory tree.

Prayers of Remembrance

You can repeat these prayers of remembrance as you visit your loved one’s final resting place. They offer hope and recall the promise of new life. 

Photo of quote, reading, you must not grieve so sorely, For I love you dearly still...

Safely Home


by Anonymous
Source: https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/safely-home

I am home in heaven, dear ones;
All’s so happy, all so bright!
There’s perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.
All the pain and grief are over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in heaven at last.
Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the Valley of the Shade?
Oh! but Jesus’ love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.
And He came Himself to meet me
On that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus’ arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?
Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s will.
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idle stand;
Do your work while life remaineth —
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of the meeting!
Oh, the joy to see you come!

Quote stating, it broke our hearts to lose you, but you did not go alone, a part of us went with you, the day God called you home.

May You Always Walk in Sunshine

By Anonymous
Source: https://www.funeralprogram-site.com/funeral-prayers-english/may-you-always-walk-in-sunshine/

May you always walk in sunshine and 
God’s love around you flow,
for the happiness you gave us, 
no one will ever know, 
it broke our hearts to lose you, 
but you did not go alone, 
a part of us went with you, 
the day God called you home. 
A million times we’ve needed you. 
A million times we’ve cried. 
If love could only have saved you. 
You never would have died. 
The Lord be with you 
And may you rest in peace. Amen.

Photo of Quote, God be in my head, and in my understanding...

God Be in My Head

Attributed to Old Sarum Primer
Source: https://acollectionofprayers.com/2016/06/22/god-be-in-my-head/ 

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing.

Poems about Loss

We’ve collected several meaningful poems that reflect on love and loss. 

Photo of Quote stating, Life is but a stopping place, a pause in what's to be, a resting place along the road, to sweet eternity.

Poem of Life

By Anonymous
Source: https://www.creative-funeral-ideas.com/life-poem.html

Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what’s to be,
A resting place along the road, to sweet eternity.
We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way,
We all were meant to learn some things, but never meant to stay…
Our destination is a place,
Far greater than we know.
For some the journey’s quicker,
For some the journey’s slow.
And when the journey finally ends,
We’ll claim a great reward,
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the Lord

Photo of Quote stating I'd like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun of happy memories that I leave behind when day is done.

Afterglow

By Helen Lowrie Marshall
Source: https://www.memorialstationery.com.au/funeral-wordings-popular-prayers.html

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times
and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun of happy memories
that I leave behind when day is done.

Photo of Quote reading who has seen the wind?

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Christina Rosetti
Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43197/who-has-seen-the-wind

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Bible Verses about Heaven

These Bible verses about heaven offer the comfort of a future reunion with those we love. 

Photo of Bible Verse for 1 Corinthians 2:9

1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV)

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Photo of Bible verse for John 14:3-4

John 14:3-4 (ESV)

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.

Photo of Bible verse for Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Visiting Memorial Trees

Although our property is closed to the public throughout the year, our visitors enjoy the chance to visit and reflect during our “Days of Celebration.” These visits often become a family tradition and a chance to process their loss together. 

If you are looking for a spot to put your loved one’s ashes to rest, you can plant a memory tree. Our beautiful mountaintop property overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains and portions of the James River. These memorial trees celebrate the unique lives of people who have passed. You can select this service through our website. Then, we’ll call to discuss the type of tree you’d like to plant (evergreen and deciduous options are available).

After you confirm your selection, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. If you prefer, for an additional fee, we offer a personal pickup service. 

Upon receiving your loved one’s ashes, we scatter them reverently during the planting process. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the base of the tree. Finally, we send you a Certificate of Release. This keepsake notes the date and location of the scattering. 
We’re here to provide comfort and relief to you during your time of loss. If you are interested in planting a memorial tree, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Memory Gardens & Celebration of Life Ideas

Virginia Ash Burial Service

Our experiences through Rest Ashured illustrate how much people need a personal way to say goodbye. Often, we hear that our clients plan their own ceremony, complete with readings and music that honor the life of their loved ones. They may hold it in a religious building, an informal venue, or even in a location that their loved one adored. After their special ceremony, they appreciate our simple and respectful process — where we scatter cremation ashes in our scattering garden in an unattended ceremony. From the actual memorial ceremony to the final goodbye when they send us their loved one’s ashes, our clients appreciate the personal touch offered by a memory garden.

Table of Contents

Differences from a Funeral Service
Planning a Celebration of Life
The Final Goodbye

Over time, people have begun to favor Celebration of Life ceremonies over traditional funerals. These memorial services are intimate, and often less formal, than mourning rituals of the past. Memory gardens, in particular, allow people a beautiful place to lay their loved ones to rest following their celebration of life ceremony. The verdant setting illustrates the hope of life after death.

Differences from a Funeral Service

Celebration of life ceremonies differ from funeral services in several ways. First, celebrations of life are generally more intimate and may take place in an informal setting. For example, you might choose to hold the ceremony in the loved one’s place of worship or a location of special meaning to them. This changes the tone from a funeral home service to one limited to family and close friends. 

Second, celebrations of life have no particular order of service. Often, they are planned around personalized readings, music, or activities. By contrast, most funeral directors will guide services through specific stages, such as a prelude, introduction, prayers or readings, and a eulogy. If you are planning a celebration of life, you can organize the proceedings around a few intimate moments that reflect on your loved one’s memory.

Finally, celebrations of life have no particular send-off for your loved one’s remains. Traditional funerals typically end with a formal transition where a coffin or urn is carried out. Then, the most intimate members of the funeral party immediately follow the remains to their resting place. 

If you’re organizing a celebration of life, you’ll need to plan how you are laying your loved one to rest. For a cremation funeral, you may even choose to keep the ashes on display for some time. For our clients, we find people appreciate this flexible timeline. They can keep the ashes until they are ready to lay them to rest. Then, they send the ashes to us for a final goodbye.

Planning a Celebration of Life

When you’re planning a celebration of life, a theme creates a focus for the event. Many times, people choose a song, special location, or a quote to center the ceremony. If you are planning to have your loved one’s ashes scattered in our memory garden, you can make the memory garden a focus of your celebration of life ceremony. 

If you choose our scattering garden, you can explain to the attendees where your loved one’s remains will be put to rest after the ceremony: on a lush mountaintop among the beauty of nature. Weave that peaceful, life-bringing image into your mourning process. 

As you’re planning a celebration of life, you’ll also need to make provisions for the following areas.

The Invitations

Start by considering who will be invited to the celebration of life. Collect the appropriate contact information and keep the list available for anyone coordinating invites. This will make it easier to confirm who is attending.

The Ceremony

For the actual celebration of life ceremony, you can plan around what works best for your group. Some considerations include:

  • Where and when will the event take place?
  • Who will conduct the ceremony?
  • Who will speak during the ceremony? 
  • What music would you like to include?
  • How will you decorate for the ceremony?
  • Will there be food or beverages afterward?

Each of these questions will help you plan a personal, yet organized event.

The Activities

Many people enjoy a group activity during a celebration of life. This may be as simple as signing a keepsake, reciting a reading together, or participating in a symbolic moment. From lighting candles to singing a song, guests enjoy memory-making moments. 

Memory Gardens

For those looking for a place to put their loved ones to rest, we offer an unattended ash scattering ceremony. Our serene scattering garden overlooks the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and portions of the James River. It’s a glorious garden of memories — celebrating the unique lives of people who have passed.

Whether you want to send your ashes immediately after the celebration of life ceremony or wait for some time, we’re here to support you. 

After you confirm your selection, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. If you prefer, we offer a personal pickup service for an additional fee. 

Upon receiving your loved one’s ashes, we scatter them reverently on our mountaintop garden. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the site. Finally, we send you a Certificate of Release. This keepsake notes the date and location of the scattering. 

We’re here to provide comfort and relief to you during your time of loss. If you are interested in our scatter garden, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Prayers, Poems, and Bible Verses to Read for a Cremation Funeral

Virginia Ash Memorials

Today, funerals can be adapted to a variety of formats. With a cremation funeral, people often choose to hold a memorial service or celebration of life separate from scattering ashes. These may be formal, such as in a church or hall. Or they may be informal, and take place in a location of special significance to family and friends. 

Regardless of location and format, it can be hard to know what to say. 

In this post, we provide several prayers, poems, and Bible verses that you can say at a cremation memorial service. 

Table of Contents

What to Say at a Cremation Funeral
Memorial Prayers
Poems to Say Goodbye
Bible Verses for Funerals

What to Say at a Cremation Funeral

A beautiful memorial speaks to the life of a person and their impact on the world around them. Often, it can be hard to summarize these sentiments in a single statement. Let the following prayers, poems, and Bible Verses inspire your heartfelt message.

Memorial Prayers

Each of these prayers can provide hope and comfort during a memorial ceremony. 

Protection Prayer by James Freeman

Protection Prayer 
By James Freeman
Source

The Light of God surrounds me. 
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me. 
The Presence of God watches over me.
The Mind of God guides me.
The Life of God flows through me.
The Laws of God direct me.
The Power of God Abides within me.
The Joy of God uplifts me.
The Strength of God renews me.
The Beauty of God inspires me. 
Wherever I am, God is!

Irish blessing for a memorial service

Irish Blessing
By Anonymous
Source

May the road rise to meet you, 
and the wind always be at your back. 
May the sun shine warm on your face 
and the rains fall softly on your fields. 
And until we meet again, 
may God hold you gently 
in the palm of his hand.

Sunny Skies poem for a cremation funeral

Sunny Skies
By Anonymous
Source

All sunny skies would be too bright, 
All morning hours mean too much light, 
All laughing days too gay a strain; 
There must be clouds, and night, and rain, 
And shut-in days, to make us see
The beauty of life’s tapestry.

Poems to Say Goodbye

Often, people choose to say goodbye to a loved one with a poem that recalls the impact of their life. 

A Poem to Read for a Cremation Funeral, If I should go

If I should Go
By Anonymous
Source

If I should go tomorrow
It would never be goodbye,
For I have left my heart with you,
So don’t you ever cry.
The love that’s deep within me,
Shall reach you from the stars,
You’ll feel it from the heavens,
And it will heal the scars.

Poem - Warm Summer Sun by Mark Twain

Warm Summer Sun
by  Mark Twain
Source

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Poem - Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay 
by Robert Frost
Source

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Bible Verses for Funerals

Often, Bible verses about life and the afterlife provide comfort during memorial services. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 - For everything there is a season

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (ESV)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Psalm 23 - The Lord is my shepherd

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell  in the house of the Lord
forever.

Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Matthew 11:28 - Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11: 28-30 (ESV)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How to Say Goodbye During a Memorial Service

When the time comes, it can be difficult to say goodbye. The beauty of memorial services is that they give us a special moment to mark this transition. Your grief does not end with the ceremony, but your remembrance and honor of a well-lived life can begin there.

Graphic: What to Read During a Cremation Funeral Service

Our Ash Scattering Garden

At Rest Ashured, we help people say goodbye to their loved ones. Our property contains a cremation ash scatter garden overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and the James River. 

For those looking for a place to put the ashes of their loved ones to rest, we offer an unattended ash scattering ceremony

First, we ship you a special package with the appropriate containers. You can place it in the mail through your local post office. (We also provide personal pickup for an additional fee.) 

When we receive the ashes, we scatter them reverently on our mountaintop garden. We also place an engraved memorial stone at the site. Finally, we send you a keepsake Certificate of Release, noting the date and location of the placement. 

We’re here to make the process as smooth as possible. If you are interested in our scatter garden, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us at info@restashured.com.

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Important Steps to Take After the Loss of a Loved One

Photo of Last Bill and Testament
Photo of 32 Things You Must Do After Someone Dies
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Whether a loved one’s death is sudden or expected, many people are overwhelmed by the process of facilitating their departure. You will need to determine their final wishes and do your best to honor their memory. This includes personal details like arranging their memorial as well as practical processes like initiating probate.  If you’re working with a funeral planning service, this list prepares you for the documents they’ll need.

Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

After your loved one passes away, access their living quarters. Try to find important documents such as a last testament and will, financial documents, and other important records. These will help you as you go through the process.

As Soon as Possible

Each of these tasks must be done as soon as possible.

1. Get a Pronouncement of Death

A pronouncement of death is a ritual performed at the time of someone’s passing. If the family is present, the pronouncement gives permission to grieve. In a hospital setting, this is usually performed by the doctor or nurse providing care. If someone dies outside a hospital, an EMT, firefighter, or police officer may declare death. 

This individual records the time and it becomes the official time of death on their certificate. This is an important legal step that begins the process of putting someone to rest.

2. Arrange for Organ Donation

Medical professionals at a hospital will identify a potential candidate for donation. If appropriate, they will approach you about your loved one’s status. When your loved one has registered as an organ donor, you will be notified at the appropriate time. If they are not registered, you will be asked to provide consent. This happens in the hospital and the donation coordinator will assist you during the process. 

Learn More about How Organ Donation works at organdonor.gov/about/process.

3. Notify Friends and Family

This notification usually takes two forms. First, an information notification happens immediately when you contact your family and friends. Most people call text, or email with an initial update. 

Later, most people choose to send a formal message. Below are a few decisions you’ll need to make. 

  • Choose a Medium: Most people write a post on social media, send an email, mail a letter.
  • Express sympathy: Your message should contain an expression of sympathy for everyone’s loss. 
  • Declare Details: Include important details about how your loved one passed and how their life will be memorialized.

See Sample Letters and Messages HERE. This should be sent to anyone who should be notified before a formal obituary.

4. Arrange Care of Dependents and Pets

Often, a person expresses their wishes for dependents and pets in a living will. If they have not, you’ll need to contact the appropriate organizations to arrange their care.

  • For Children: If the child has no other legal guardian, your state’s child protective services. They will work with you to arrange care.  
  • For Other Dependents: If your loved one leaves behind an adult dependent, you must contact your state’s adult protective services. They will assist you with the arrangements.
  • For Pets: Your local humane society can assist you with rehoming a pet. 

5. Call Your Loved One’s Employer

Contact your loved one’s Human Resources department to let them know of their death. You can call or send an email. They will ask you for additional information for their records. 

6. Secure Large Property (eg: house, car)

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to secure your loved one’s large property. Make sure their car is parked in an appropriate and safe location. Check their house to make sure the doors and windows are locked. Also, make a note of who has additional keys and decide if they should still have access to these areas. 

7. Decide What you Will Do With the Remains

Your loved one’s living will may provide insight into what they would like to do with their remains. Some people provide explicit instructions and may have even pre-paid for a funeral planning service. If so, follow their instructions and contact the appropriate service providers.

If your loved one did not plan, you will need to choose between several options, including:

  • Ground Burial
  • Water Burial
  • Cremation

8. Arrange for Transportation of the Body

Depending on your choice, you will need to direct the remains from the morgue to the appropriate funeral planning service provider. This might be a funeral home, a crematorium, or a mausoleum. 

Within a Few Days

These tasks must be finished within a few days of your loved one’s passing.

9. Arrange for a Funeral or Burial

Now that you have chosen the method of your memorial, you’ll need to work with your service provider to arrange for a funeral or burial. You’ll need to decide on the location for the memorial service and where you are putting the remains to rest. 

  • If you are doing a ground burial, you will work with a funeral home. They can hold the services at their location and help you with interment in a cemetery. You can also work with them to hold the service at another location (like a church) and transfer the body to the cemetery. In the U.S. these services usually take place 3 to 7 days after death. If you choose a natural or green burial, the timeline is shorter.
  • If you are doing a water burial, you’ll need to work with a service provider that performs these ceremonies. Typically, they are held on a ship and the remains are buried in the ocean as part of the ceremony. These follow a similar timeline as a funeral but are dependent on the weather.
  • If you are cremating your loved one, you can ask a funeral home or a crematorium to perform the service. Often, this is called a direct cremation. Then, you can choose to hold a memorial service with the funeral home or plan one yourself. With cremation, you do have some extra time to arrange a service.

10. Order a Casket, Urn, or Scattering Service

You must choose the appropriate vessel for your loved one’s remains. If you are doing a ground or water burial, you will need to order a casket. The funeral home or another service provider can help you order this. If you choose cremation, you can order an urn or simply use the box provided by the crematorium. Most of the time, people order an urn if they plan to display their loved one’s remains for some time. If you are scattering them shortly after the cremation, you can keep them in the original packaging.

11. Get their Mail Forwarded

Forward your loved one’s mail through the US Postal Service at https://www.usps.com/manage/mail-for-deceased.htm. They have a simple online form that takes you through several steps. 

Also, you should contact DMAchoice.org to register them on the Deceased Do Not Contact List (DDNC). Within 3 months of registering, advertising mail should decrease.

12. Check Home for Plants or Expired Food

Even if you visited your loved one’s home to find important documents, you should return to check on perishable items. Check their refrigerator and cabinets for items that can expire. Consider donating the other items to a food distribution charity if you are able. 

Also, look for any plants and take them with you. These steps avoid attracting pests to the empty living space. 

13. Check with Fraternal Services or Military

If your loved one was part of the military or any fraternal services, notify them of your loved one’s passing. They will let you know if any special ceremonies and honors can be bestowed upon your loved one.  Additionally, the Military or fraternal organizations often assist with the cost of a service or burial. 

14. Write an Obituary

If you choose to place a formal obituary in the newspaper, you should write it before the wake. According to Legacy.com, these cost between $100 – $800. The price depends on the length of the obituary and the chosen publication. Alternative options include: 

  • Funeral Home Website: Many funeral homes allow you to post a copy of your loved one’s obituary on their website. 
  • Social media: Social media platforms provide another, less-formal option to leave an obituary message. Many friends choose to interact by leaving comments.

Leading Up to the Wake

As you plan the funeral, wake, or memorial service, you’ll need to facilitate each of these tasks.

15. Establish Financial Needs

Common costs related to a funeral planning service include the cost of burial or cremation, the vessel, and legal paperwork. Additionally, you may choose to include memorial programs, floral arrangements, printed photos, and other displays. Celebrations surrounding the service may require catering and a venue. Create a budget and determine if there are costs that aren’t covered by your loved one’s estate.

16. Choose Participants

You’ll need to decide on a format for a memorial service. Typically, someone leads the service and introduces each person to speak. This may be the funeral director or a religious advisor. Even if you have a time when anyone can speak, someone will need to facilitate the transition between speakers. Plan who will participate in the ceremony. 

17. Set a Schedule

You’ll likely have a limited amount of time to spend at your service. Plan how you will fill that time of remembrance by setting a schedule. This helps direct people through the ceremony and any special moments of remembrance.

18. Order Programs and Flowers

If you are working with a funeral home or another service provider, they can help coordinate programs and flowers. You’ll need to decide the details with their assistance. 

If you are arranging the memorial service yourself, you’ll need to order these and plan delivery.

19. Coordinate Food and Drinks

Often, people have a meal as part of awake. You’ll need to choose the venue for the meal and plan the food. Some choose to cater the event. Others may plan a potluck for a close-knit community. 

20. Tell Loved Ones About the Service

Once you have planned the service, you should send clear instructions to anyone who would want to attend. This includes friends, family, and other mourners. Sometimes, people differentiate between the different parts of the mourning process and only invite those closest to the deceased to the intimate parts like a graveside service. 

Within a Few Weeks

After the ceremony, you’ll need to finalize these important details.

21. Order a Headstone

If you are burying your loved one, you may order a headstone after they are interred. This serves as a permanent marker. Often, people have another small, private moment of remembrance when the headstone is installed. If you are scattering your loved one’s ashes in a garden, you may put a marker in that area.

22. Get at Least 5-10 Copies of the Death Certificate

As you are settling your loved one’s estate, you’ll need several copies of their death certificate. Order many copies to avoid reordering later. 

You can order these through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Health. Most states have online forms on an option to visit their offices.

23. Start the Will Probate Process

Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death. If the deceased has a last will and testament, probate confirms that the will is legally valid and executes the written instructions. If the deceased did not write a will, the probate court will consult your state’s intestate laws. These laws vary from state to state. A lawyer can guide you through either process.

24. Talk to Financial Benefit Organizations

This may include stocks, bonds, retirement benefits, or social security. Go through the deceased records to find out the entitlements their loved ones may be able to collect.

25. Notify Banks and Insurance Companies

To notify your loved one’s bank of their death, you can visit their office or their website. Most banks have an online form where you can start the process. They’ll need to verify the death and help close the accounts. 

Similarly, you must notify insurance companies of your loved one’s death. They will verify the death and determine who receives benefits. 

26. Contact an Accountant

In addition to a lawyer, you’ll want to use an accountant to help close out your loved one’s finances. They can guide you through the taxes necessary to settle their estate.

27. Notify Pension Services

If your loved one had a pension, you’ll need to notify them as well. They’ll confirm the death and facilitate any financial benefits. 

28. Cancel Insurance and Utilities

Cancel the insurance and utilities that are no longer necessary. If your loved one owned a property, you may need to keep some of these accounts active to keep the property safe.

29. Find and Pay Important Bills

As you’re closing out your loved one’s account, you’ll need to settle any outstanding bills. Use this as another opportunity to close out their accounts. 

30. Close Credit Cards and Notify Credit Reporting Services

Close all of the deceased’s credit cards to protect their accounts. Also, notify credit reporting services. Equifax provides simple instructions for protecting credit after death HERE.

31. Cancel Driver’s License

Contact your local DMV to cancel the deceased driver’s license. You’ll need a copy of their death certificates and any license plates in their name. 

32. Close or Memorialize Social Media and Email Accounts

Social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook can be closed or memorialized after death.

If you need to close out an email account, submit a support form from their email account to their email provider.

Download our Checklist

Photo of Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies

Although this list may seem overwhelming, you can work through these tasks slowly over the weeks following your loved one’s departure. This document contains printable checklists to make the unthinkable a little bit easier.

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How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach

Image of Couple embracing each other

The ocean holds a special meaning for many people. Often, people choose to scatter ashes at the beach to honor loved ones who were in the Navy, Coastguard, or Marines. Some choose it as a final resting place for fishermen or those who loved the sea. Because these ceremonies differ from typical funerals, many people have questions about how to scatter ashes at the beach. 

While you can’t scatter ashes directly on the beach, you can take them onto a boat and scatter them on the open water. Burial at sea is legal as long as you abide by the EPA guidelines under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea, which states that ashes must be at least 3 nautical miles offshore.  We recommend choosing an ash scattering service that operates in compliance with these guidelines. This frees you to focus on your family or friends during the ceremony.

In this post, we offer ideas, poems, prayers, and Bible verses that you can add to your ocean ash scattering.

Table of Contents

Burial at Sea Ceremony Ideas
Prayers for Burial at Sea
Poems for Ocean Ash Scattering
Bible Verses for Ocean Burial

A burial at sea stands as the perfect way to reflect on the lives and loves of individuals who felt a special connection with oceans and seashores. 

Burial at Sea Ceremony Ideas

Burial-at-sea ceremonies can be conducted together at the dock before setting out to sea, or at some other designated location. With attended burial-at-sea scatterings, a ceremony could also be held on the boat itself during the trip (observing the boat’s passenger limit).

Scattering Ceremony

Many families will want to take an active part in scattering the ashes of their loved ones. In some ceremonies, someone is designated to release the ashes, while in other ceremonies, guests will take a portion of the ashes to scatter individually. Guests may choose to share something before they release the ashes, or the group may choose to release the separated ashes all at once.

Lighting candles or casting flowers, petals, or wreaths on the water along with the ashes are all lovely choices. This gives the family a beautiful, lasting scene to gaze upon as they finish their ceremony and celebration of life. There may be music played, memories shared and glasses raised in honor of the deceased.

Floating Ceremony

In this ceremony, as opposed to physically scattering the ashes over open water, the cremation ash is placed in a specially designed water-soluble urn. (These can be found on several online sites.) The urns can be simple or very ornate, according to your taste.

After, or as a part of, the memorial, the urn is placed in the water. The urn floats for a couple of minutes before it begins to sink and dissolve. To conclude the ceremony, guests will often toss live flowers, petals, or wreaths into the water as one final tribute.

Prayers for Burial at Sea

The following prayers for a burial at sea ceremony offer hope and comfort. 

Excerpt from Burial at Sea prayer from The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Protestant Episcopal Church

Burial at Sea

The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Protestant Episcopal Church (Source)

Unto Almighty God, we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

A Fisherman's Prayer Graphic

Fisherman’s Prayer

Anonymous

God grant that I may live to fish for another shining day. 
But when my final cast is made I then most humbly pray, 
When nestled in your landing net as I lay peacefully asleep, 
You’ll smile and judge that I’m ‘good enough to keep’.”

Excerpt from  The Lord's Prayer Bible verse

The Lord’s Prayer 

Matthew 6:9-13, KJV (Source)

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Poems for Ocean Ash Scattering

These poems focus on the beauty of the ocean as a final resting place.

"Immersing my soul in water where first life and memory began." excerpt from Burial at Sea poem by John Companiotte

Burial at Sea

By John Companiotte (Source)

There will I lie, 
Forever with a moving element,
Not sunk in the leaden earth
Missing the sullen music of whales
For a lullaby to soothe my sleep.
Small fish with vermilion scales,
Haloing wide purple faces, will dart
In and out of my long dream
With no disturbance, their colors
Shimmering and enlivening my eyes
Closed to the pink revelry of dawn.
The swell of the shifting current
Will tug at my stuffed shirt, waking 
Me from being human, immersing
My soul in water where first
Life and memory began.

A Fisherman's Prayer by Jeanette Hoppes

A Fisherman’s Prayer

By Jeannette Hoppes (Source)

God grant me a little more time
To pick up my rod, and cast my line.
Work and worry disappear
When I pick up my fishing gear.
With boat on trailer, I will go
Anywhere the fishing’s not too slow.
Work just doesn’t seem so fine
When I see what’s at the end of my fishing line.
When I am feeble, old and grey
Please don’t take my pole away.
When the Pearly Gates open wide
Please find this old fisherman, one good lake inside!

"Down to the unfathom'd realms, where hidded fountains flow..." excerpt from Burial at Sea Poem by Mrs. L.H. Sigourney

Burial at Sea

Mrs. L.H. Sigourney (Source)

Down to the unfathom’d realms,
Where hidden fountains flow,
Alone, his silent couch to find,
The child of earth must go.
For him no funeral bell
May weeping friends convene,
Nor dust, to kindred dust be laid
Within the church-yard green.
Farewell! one heavy plunge!
One cleft in ocean’s floor!

Bible Verses for Ocean Burial

These Bible verses celebrate faith and the hope of heaven.

"...they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep." -Psalm 107:23-24

Psalm 107:23-24 (ESV)

“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.”

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." - Matthew 5:4

Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

Psalm 46: 1-3 (ESV)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.”

How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach

To plan a beautiful ocean burial, we recommend choosing a service that follows the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea. Then, you can plan a beautiful service that reflects on the life of your loved one. At Rest Ashured, we offer both attended and unattended burial at sea options

If you choose an attended ceremony, we will put you in direct contact with a boat captain to schedule the special day and time. On your scheduled day, you will meet him at the boat slip to begin your time on the water. 

If you choose an unattended ceremony, the boat captain will respectfully scatter your loved one’s ashes on your behalf. This is typically done within 30 days, and we will inform you on the day of release. 

Our sea scattering locations include the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Topsail Island, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. 
We’re here to make the process as smooth as possible. If you have any questions about how to scatter ashes at the beach, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us info@restashured.com.

Pin for How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach
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Everything You Need to Scatter Ashes at Sea

Burial at Sea

As you decide what to do with your loved one’s remains, you may want to consider a burial at sea. This beautiful ceremony releases cremation ash into open water. If you’d like to scatter ashes at sea, there are several options and guidelines to consider. 

Table of Contents

Plan an Ocean Burial
How do I request a burial at sea?
Your Options: Scattering Ashes at Sea
Can you Scatter Ashes in the ocean?
How to Scatter Ashes at Sea
Your Options: Scatter Ashes on the beach
Can you scatter ashes on the beach?
How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach
Selecting Sea Burial Services
How much does it cost to be buried at sea?
Burial at Sea Ceremony Ideas
Prayers for Burial at Sea
Poems for Ocean Ash Scattering
Bible Verses for Ocean Burial

We recommend working with a planning service to ensure that you comply with EPA regulations. Also, it frees you to focus on the memorial service. If you’re planning one of these ceremonies common questions include: 

  • Is it illegal to put ashes in the ocean?
  • What are the rules for burial at sea?
  • What should I bring for an ocean burial?
  • What should I say during the memorial ceremony?

This guide reviews the most popular questions and our recommendations for a smooth, simple release.

Plan an Ocean Burial

When you dispose of human remains in the ocean, this is classified as a burial at sea. Often, people imagine military funeral services conducted by the United States Navy. However, there are private options available to anyone. 

How do I request a burial at sea?

If you are interested in a private ceremony, you can contact a company that provides these services. For example, we offer both attended and unattended ceremonies through Rest Ashured. 

Your Options: Scattering Ashes at Sea

Using a boat, cremation ashes can be scattered on the water or floated in a biodegradable urn. 

Can you Scatter Ashes at sea?

Yes, but you must follow EPA regulations. Cremated remains must be buried at least three nautical miles from land. You may use flowers or wreaths that are readily decomposable in the marine environment. 

You must notify the EPA within 30 days following your event. All burials at sea conducted under the MPRSA general permit must be reported to the EPA Region from which the vessel carrying the remains departed.

Procedure From EPA.gov

“A burial at sea of non-cremated and cremated human remains may be reported to EPA using the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool. The Burial at Sea Reporting Tool enables individuals or companies that have conducted a burial at sea to enter information into a simple online form and report the burial directly to EPA. For information about the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool including instructions for reporting one or multiple burials at sea, please see the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool Fact Sheet. Please note that you do not need to submit documentation, such as a Certificate of Death, to EPA when reporting a burial at sea.

To report a burial of human remains by other means, please contact the EPA Region where the vessel carrying the remains departed. To identify the appropriate EPA Regional contact, please see EPA’s Regional Offices Contact List.”

Restrictions From EPA.gov:

“The following activity is not allowed under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea:

  • Burying human remains in ocean waters within three nautical miles from shore, i.e., the ordinary low water mark or a closing line drawn on nautical charts across the openings of bays and rivers.
  • Burial of non-human remains (such as pet remains).
  • Placement of materials which are not readily decomposable in the marine environment, such as plastic or metal flowers and wreaths, tombs, tombstones, gravestones, monuments, mausoleums, artificial reefs, etc.

Any such activity would require an application for an MPRSA special permit.”

How to Scatter Ashes at Sea


Most people choose between a scattering ceremony and a floating ceremony. 

  • Scattering Ceremony: The family takes an active part in scattering the ashes of their loved one. You can designate a single person to release the ashes. In other ceremonies, guests will take a portion of the ashes to scatter. Guests may choose to share a word before they release the ashes. Also, the group may choose to release the separated ashes together.
  • Floating Ceremony: You place the cremation ash in a specially-designed water-soluble urn. The urns can be simple or ornate. As a part of the memorial, you place the urn in the water. The urn floats for several minutes before it begins to sink. 

Often, guests speak kind words or scatter flowers to conclude these ceremonies.

Your Options: Scatter Ashes on the beach

You cannot legally scatter ashes on the beach. Instead, you must schedule a boat to take you more than three nautical miles from the shore. Then, you can follow the regulations stated in the above section. 

Can you scatter ashes on the beach?

No, you must scatter ashes on open water. 

How to Scatter Ashes at the Beach

You must find a boat captain to take you an appropriate distance from the shore. They must abide by the EPA guidelines under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea. This includes the proper reporting of the burial as noted in the section above.

Selecting Sea Burial Services

As you plan your service, several decisions influence your burial at sea cost. These include:

  • Scattering Location
  • Service Type such as attended or unattended
  • Ceremony format such as a scattering ceremony or a floating ceremony.

You can customize these choices to create a special day. 

How much does it cost to be buried at sea?

The simplicity of a burial at sea ceremony offers an affordable way to say goodbye. 

General costs often include:

  • Direct Cremation: $1,500 is the U.S. average according to Parting.com. Many Virginia crematories offer services at a slightly lower rate.
  • Memorial or Celebration of Life Cards: Memorial cards or program printing ranges from $0.54 each at Shutterfly to $0.99 each at Walgreens.
  • Local Obituary: Announcements may cost between $100 – $800 according to Legacy.com.
  • Vessels or Urns: Most of the time, an urn is included in your cost of cremation. However, you may need a water-soluble urn if you choose a floating ceremony. Cost varies by manufacturer with options less than $200.

Unattended Ceremony costs include:

  • Postage, packaging, shipping, and handling fees 
  • Boat and Captain Reservation 

Attended Ceremony costs include:

  • Initial Cremation 
  • Travel & Lodging 
  • Boat and Captain Reservation

Use an ash scattering service provider to simplify some of these details.

Burial at Sea Ceremony Ideas

With attended burial-at-sea scatterings, a ceremony may be held on the boat during the trip. We’ve collected poems, prayers, and verses to inspire your service. 

Burial at Sea Prayers

You can read these prayers during your ceremony.

Burial at Sea

The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Protestant Episcopal Church (Source)

Unto Almighty God, we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

Fisherman’s Prayer

Anonymous

God grant that I may live to fish for another shining day. 
But when my final cast is made I then most humbly pray, 
When nestled in your landing net as I lay peacefully asleep, 
You’ll smile and judge that I’m ‘good enough to keep’.”

The Lord’s Prayer 

Matthew 6:9-13, KJV (Source)

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Poems to Scatter Ashes at Sea

These poems celebrate the sea as a final resting place.

Burial at Sea

By John Companiotte (Source)

There will I lie, 
Forever with a moving element,
Not sunk in the leaden earth
Missing the sullen music of whales
For a lullaby to soothe my sleep.
Small fish with vermilion scales,
Haloing wide purple faces, will dart
In and out of my long dream
With no disturbance, their colors
Shimmering and enlivening my eyes
Closed to the pink revelry of dawn.
The swell of the shifting current
Will tug at my stuffed shirt, waking 
Me from being human, immersing
My soul in water where first
Life and memory began.

A Fisherman’s Prayer

By Jeannette Hoppes (Source)

God grant me a little more time
To pick up my rod, and cast my line.
Work and worry disappear
When I pick up my fishing gear.
With boat on trailer, I will go
Anywhere the fishing’s not too slow.
Work just doesn’t seem so fine
When I see what’s at the end of my fishing line.
When I am feeble, old and grey
Please don’t take my pole away.
When the Pearly Gates open wide
Please find this old fisherman, one good lake inside!

Burial at Sea

Mrs. L.H. Sigourney (Source)

Down to the unfathom’d realms,
Where hidden fountains flow,
Alone, his silent couch to find,
The child of earth must go.
For him no funeral bell
May weeping friends convene,
Nor dust, to kindred dust be laid
Within the church-yard green.
Farewell! one heavy plunge!
One cleft in ocean’s floor!

Bible Verses for Ocean Burial

Celebrating faith, these verses remember the hope of heaven.

Psalm 107:23-24 (ESV)

“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.”

Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Psalm 46: 1-3 (ESV)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.”

Scatter Ashes at Sea

Choosing a service that follows the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea will simplify your planning process. Then, you can enjoy a beautiful service that reflects on the life of your loved one. At Rest Ashured, our scattering locations include the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Topsail Island, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. We offer both attended and unattended burial at sea options

If you choose an attended ceremony, we will connect you with a boat captain. He’ll work with you to pick your special day. On your scheduled day,  you will meet him at the boat slip to begin your ceremony. 

If you choose an unattended ceremony, the boat captain will set a time to respectfully scatter your loved one’s remains. We will inform you on the day of release. Most of the time, this is within 30 days. 
We make the process as smooth as possible. Please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us info@restashured.com.

Posted on

Can You Spread Ashes in the Ocean?

Sea beach and violet sky

If your loved one enjoyed the sea, you might consider scattering their ashes at the shore. You may be wondering, “Can you spread ashes in the ocean?” 


Yes, you can. There are several meaningful options to scatter ashes in the sea. However, you must follow specific guidelines for each type of ceremony.

Table of Contents

Plan an Ocean Burial
How Do I Request a Burial at Sea?
Your Options: Scattering Ashes at Sea
Your Options: Scattering Ashes on the Beach

There are two common misconceptions about Burial at Sea. First, many people assume you can simply scatter ashes on the beach or in the ocean. However, the EPA regulates burial at sea. You must follow their specific guidelines. 

Second, people think it only applies to members of the United States Navy. While you must meet certain requirements for a free military burial at sea, anyone can hold a private ceremony. You just need to follow the EPA’s guidelines. 

Anyone can plan a burial at sea ceremony. First, determine whether you qualify for a military ceremony or if you must conduct a private ceremony. Then, you can review your options for scattering ashes at sea. 

Plan an Ocean Burial

By definition, burial at sea includes any disposal of human remains in the ocean. Many people think of military funeral services conducted by the United States Navy. However, there are private options available to civilians. 

How Do I Request a Burial at Sea?

There are two ways to request a burial at sea. If you qualify for a Navy burial at sea, you must contact the Veterans Affairs Office. If you are interested in a private ceremony, you can contact a company that provides these services. 

Q: Who qualifies for burial at sea?

Anyone can be buried at sea. There are two ways people can be buried at sea: military services or private services. 

Navy Burial at Sea

In the US, people eligible for a free Navy burial at sea are:

  • Active-duty members of the uniformed services
  • Retirees and honorably discharged veterans
  • Military Sealift Command U.S. civilian marine personnel
  • Family members of the above

For more information, please contact the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Service Format

To begin, the officer of the deck calls All hands bury the dead. They stop the ship and lower the ship’s flags to half-mast. Then, the ship’s crew assemble on the deck. They stand in parade rest at the beginning of the ceremony. Next, they cover the coffin with an American flag which is carried feet first on deck. Then, they place the casket on a stand, with the feet overboard. For cremated remains, the urn is brought on deck and placed on a stand.

A Navy chaplain or a commanding officer conducts the religious portion of the ceremony. Typically, they read scripture and say a prayer. 

Next, they order the firing party with “Firing party, present arms”. The casket bearers tilt the platform with the casket. The casket slides off the platform into the ocean and the draped flag remains on board. 

For cremated remains, they may bury the remains similarly using the urn. Some choose to scatter the ashes into the wind.

Finally, the firing party fires a three volley salute and the bugler plays Taps. The ceremony ends when they fold the flag. 

Afterward, the deceased relatives are informed of the time and location of the burial.

Civilian or Private Burial at Sea

If you do not qualify for the Navy Burial at Sea, you may plan a private burial at sea service. These can be performed by ship or aircraft. Cremated ashes are the most common form of burial. They can be scattered on the water or floated using a biodegradable urn. There are even some people who have chosen to mix ashes in concrete and have them added to an artificial reef such as the Atlantis Reef. 

Service Format

Most people choose between a scattering ceremony and a floating ceremony. 

In a scattering ceremony, the family takes an active part in scattering the ashes of their loved one. You can designate a single person to release the ashes. In other ceremonies, guests will take a portion of the ashes to scatter. Guests may choose to share something before they release the ashes. Also, the group may choose to release the separated ashes together instead.

Often, people light candles or cast flowers along with the ashes. This gives the family a beautiful memory as they finish their ceremony.

In a floating ceremony, you place the cremation ash in a specially designed water-soluble urn. The urns can be simple or ornate, according to your taste.

After, or as a part of, the memorial, you place the urn in the water. The urn floats for several minutes before it begins to sink. To conclude the ceremony, guests can toss live flowers, petals, or wreaths into the water.

Q: Can I be buried at sea?

Anyone can be buried at sea. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate fisherman, boaters, or even beach lovers. 

Your Options: Scattering Ashes at Sea

There are legal guidelines to follow for scattering ashes at sea. The EPA needs documentation of your burial at sea service. We recommend working with an ash scattering service company. This frees you to focus on the ceremony with your family and friends.

Can You Spread Ashes in the Ocean?

To scatter ashes in the ocean, you must follow EPA regulations. These guidelines include limits to where you can scatter ashes and how to properly report the burial.

How to Scatter Ashes at Sea

According to the EPA, cremated remains must be buried in or on ocean waters of any depth. This burial must be at least three nautical miles from land. You may use flowers or wreaths that are readily decomposable in the marine environment. This excludes plastic flowers and synthetic wreaths.

Within 30 days following your event, you must notify EPA. All burials at sea conducted under the MPRSA general permit must be reported to the EPA Region from which the vessel carrying the remains departed.

Procedure From EPA.gov

“A burial at sea of non-cremated and cremated human remains may be reported to EPA using the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool. The Burial at Sea Reporting Tool enables individuals or companies that have conducted a burial at sea to enter information into a simple online form and report the burial directly to EPA. For information about the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool including instructions for reporting one or multiple burials at sea, please see the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool Fact Sheet. Please note that you do not need to submit documentation, such as a Certificate of Death, to EPA when reporting a burial at sea.

To report a burial of human remains by other means, please contact the EPA Region where the vessel carrying the remains departed. To identify the appropriate EPA Regional contact, please see EPA’s Regional Offices Contact List.”

Restrictions From EPA.gov:

“The following activity is not allowed under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea:

  • Burying human remains in ocean waters within three nautical miles from shore, i.e., the ordinary low water mark or a closing line drawn on nautical charts across the openings of bays and rivers.
  • Burial of non-human remains (such as pet remains).
  • Placement of materials which are not readily decomposable in the marine environment, such as plastic or metal flowers and wreaths, tombs, tombstones, gravestones, monuments, mausoleums, artificial reefs, etc.

Any such activity would require an application for an MPRSA special permit.”

Your Options: Scatter Ashes at the Beach

Although you may be fond of a particular pier or dune, you cannot legally scatter ashes on the beach. You must secure a boat to take you out more than three nautical miles from the shore. Then, you can follow the regulations stated in the above section. 

Can you scatter ashes on the beach?

No, you must scatter ashes on ocean water. While you can’t scatter ashes directly on the beach, you can take them onto a boat and scatter them on the open water. These ceremonies create a lovely tribute to someone who loved the ocean. 

How to scatter ashes at the beach

If you want to scatter ashes at the beach, you must secure a boat captain to take you out to open water at the appropriate distance from the shore. They must abide by the EPA guidelines under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea. This includes the proper reporting of the burial as noted in the section above.

Scattering Ashes at Sea

Can you spread ashes in the ocean? Yes! You can plan a beautiful service that reflects on the life of your loved one. 

We recommend choosing a service that follows the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea. Our scattering locations include the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Topsail Island, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.  At Rest Ashured, we offer both attended and unattended burial at sea options

Attended Ceremony

We will put you in direct contact with a boat captain to schedule the special day and time. On your scheduled day,  you will meet him at the boat slip to begin your time on the water. 

Unattended Ceremony

The boat captain will respectfully scatter your loved one’s ashes on your behalf. This is typically done within 30 days. We will inform you on the day of release. 

Can You Spread Ashes in the Ocean?

Yes, you can request a burial at sea for anyone. We’re here to help make that possible and can answer any questions including, “Can You Spread Ashes in the Ocean?” Please get in touch with us. Call 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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How Much Does Burial at Sea Cost?

bird flying on the beach at sunrise

If you want to honor a person that loved the ocean, a burial at sea service offers a beautiful way to say goodbye. These services differ from traditional funeral plans in several ways. First, you have to choose a scattering location on a body of water with a burial at sea service that follows the EPA guidelines under the MPRSA general permit for burial at sea. Then, you must decide on the various options that influence your burial at sea cost.

The cost of burial at sea includes the initial cremation, announcements, and the actual ceremony. First, you would ask for direct cremation with no additional services from the funeral home or crematorium. They will provide a simple vessel or urn with your loved one’s ashes. 

Second, you would decide how you would like to announce your loved one’s passing. Most people choose to announce this in several ways. Many place an obituary in the newspaper for friends and family who value traditional announcements. 

Often, people like to create personalized memorial cards that they can mail to relatives and close friends. These can also be used as part of the ceremony program if you decide to have an attended service. They become lovely keepsakes. 

Also, informal social media announcements, such as on Facebook, are a common way to pass along information and allow people to communicate their sympathy. You might do this when you turn their Facebook profile into a memorial profile

Finally, you’ll need to select burial at sea services from a company that handles these events. 

Table of Contents

Selecting Burial at Sea Services
General Burial at Sea costs
Unattended Ceremony Costs
Attended Ceremony Costs

These services follow a different process than traditional funeral arrangements. Instead of working with a funeral home from beginning to end, you will take possession of your loved one’s ashes after cremation. Then, you will begin arranging your burial at sea ceremony. 

Because you are scattering ashes, you also have more time to plan the memorial and set the date. Some even choose to delay the service until after they have mourned for a period of time.

You can take your loved one’s ashes onto a boat and scatter them on the open water as long as you abide by the EPA guidelines. We recommend choosing an ash scattering service that operates in compliance with these guidelines. This frees you to focus on your family and friends during the ceremony. 

Selecting Sea Burial Services

As you plan your burial at sea service, you can tailor the ceremony to suit your situation. Several decisions influence your burial at sea cost. These include:

  • Scattering Location
  • Service Type such as attended or unattended
  • Ceremony format such as a scattering ceremony or a floating ceremony.

Each of these choices allows you to customize your ceremony to celebrate the life of your loved one. 

How much does it cost to be buried at sea?

In general, burial at sea is less expensive than a traditional funeral. To begin, the cost of cremation is lower than other funeral home services. Also, the simplicity of a burial at sea ceremony lowers your total expense. 

Burial at Sea costs often include:

  • Direct Cremation: $1,500 is the U.S. average according to Parting.com. However, Virginia crematories offer services at a slightly lower rate.
  • Memorial or Celebration of Life Cards: Printing memorial cards or programs ranges from $0.54 each at Shutterfly to $0.99 each at Walgreens.
  • Local Obituary: Announcements can cost between $100 – $800 according to Legacy.com.
  • Vessels or Urns: Typically, an urn is included in your cost of cremation. However, you may need a water-soluble urn if you choose a floating ceremony. For example, The Living Urn offers an Eco Water Urn for $139.

Unattended Ceremony costs include:

  • Postage, packaging, shipping, and handling fees 
  • Boat and Captain Reservation 

Attended Ceremony costs include:

  • Initial Cremation 
  • Travel & Lodging 
  • Boat and Captain Reservation

If you’d like to simplify the cost of cremation and burial at sea, consider using a service that offers packages to help plan and facilitate your service. 

Cost of Cremation and Burial at Sea

At Rest Ashured, we offer packages for both attended and unattended burial at sea services. Our unattended services cost $375 and our attended services start at $475. 

Pinterest Graphic: Burial at Sea Cost

Our process is simple. For an attended ceremony, we connect you with a boat captain to schedule the day and time for your ash scattering at sea. You will meet him at the boat slip on your scheduled day. 

For an unattended ceremony, the boat captain will schedule a time to respectfully scatter your loved one’s ashes. We will inform you on the day of release. This typically occurs within 30 days.

Our scattering locations include the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Topsail Island, North Carolina, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. 
If you have any questions about how to scatter ashes at the beach, please get in touch with us by calling 434-534-4007 or emailing us info@restashured.com.

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Why Scatter Ashes at Sea

Ocean Water

With the rising popularity of cremations, burial at sea ceremonies, or scattering ashes at sea, is also becoming more common. Oftentimes, land burials can be burdensome and expensive for the deceased’s family.

People move, which can make it hard for them to visit a fixed grave. However, having one’s ashes buried at sea fixes this because there is no central location where the remains are located. Because of this, every time family members visit the sea they can think about their loved ones.

What is a Sea Scattering?

ocean funeral with boats on the water

A burial at sea, or scattering at sea, is where you either directly scatter the ashes, or place your loved one’s ashes in a biodegradable urn and let it sink to the ocean floor.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and federal law these services must take place at least 3 nautical miles from land. You also have to make sure that you don’t use any material during your ceremony that won’t break down quickly in the water.

Often, your family and friends accompany you on the boat to be present during the ceremony to sink or scatter the cremated remains.

Rivers, Lakes, And Other Countries

Scattering in rivers or other inland waters depends on the laws and regulations of the state the body of water is located in. Make sure you do research on particular states laws, and don’t trespass on private property to scatter ashes.

Other countries have different requirements for scattering ashes in the ocean than the United States does. Make sure you do your research on their scattering laws, as well as the best practices for travelling with ashes.

Why Do A Sea Scattering?

It’s Less Expensive

A standard burial can be expensive. Most of the time, these burials cost around $10,000 or more, depending on how much planning your loved one did in advance. Because of this, families will most likely need to save up (or even take out a loan) to afford the funeral.

However, cremation and scattering one’s ashes at sea can cost exceptionally less. Scattering one’s ashes at sea with Rest Ashured costs around $375, which is 20 times less expensive than regular burials. This adds a lot more flexibility to the ceremony, and will be less burdensome on one’s family.

Scattering Ashes is More Flexible

As stated above, scattering ashes can be a lot easier for the family members when considering visiting the deceased. However, scattering ashes at sea can make the process logistically easier in other ways, too.

For one, there is a longer timetable to spread ashes than there is with a ground burial. Once the deceased is cremated, family members can wait for a suitable time to spread the ashes. This makes it easier for family members to attend the ceremony, as they will have more time to schedule it.

Scattering ashes at sea also makes the ceremony less painful to plan. A standard burial requires a great deal of planning and decision-making. In the case of a casket burial, the deceased’s family would have to plan where to hold the ceremony, where to host the reception, organize extended family, and negotiate with a funeral home.

On the other hand, scattering one’s ashes at sea only requires cremation and coordinating a date with Rest Ashured for scattering either in Virginia Beach, Topsail Island, North Carolina, or in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

In general, cremation is both simpler and less expensive than traditional burial. Burial at sea is a great option for your loved one who loved the beach, loved fishing, or was a Navy or Coast Guard veteran.