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What To Do with Ashes after Cremation

Family Deciding What to Do with Ashes After Cremation

Everyone needs a personal way to say goodbye when their loved one passes. For some, it can be hard to decide what to do with ashes after cremation. To begin, you can arrange a memorial ceremony that reflects the last wishes of your loved one. You might hold it in a religious building, a local venue, or even in a location that your loved one adored. 

Upbeat celebration of life ceremonies and informal memorial services have become just as common as traditional funerals. These memorial services are intimate, and often less formal, than mourning rituals of the past.

After your special ceremony, there are several options to put your loved one’s ashes to rest. 

Table of Contents

Keep the Ashes in an Urn
Inter the Ashes
Scatter the Ashes in a Garden
Scatter the Ashes at Sea
Plant the Ashes with a Tree

With cremation you can wait to decide what to do with your loved one’s remains. There’s no imposed time frame for your grief. Then, when you’re ready, you can choose how to say goodbye.

Keep the Ashes in an Urn

About one in five people choose to store ashes in their homes after cremation. You can keep ashes in an urn permanently or you can keep them until you’re ready to find a permanent resting place.

When you receive ashes from a crematorium, they will give them to you in a sealed plastic bag. This is often placed inside a temporary container made of card stock or a similar material. If you want to keep the ashes at home, an urn gives you a reliable vessel to store and transport the remains

Tips for Transferring Ashes to an Urn

  1. Check that your container is the right size before you transfer. Most adults’ ashes weigh between 4 to 8 lbs.
  2. Find someone to help you with the transfer. They can hold the container to keep it steady. 
  3. Choose a stable surface you can easily wipe clean.
  4. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. This creates a funnel shape to softly pour the ashes into the new container. If your container is narrow, you may need a funnel to facilitate the process.
  5. There may be larger elements to add. After you’re done pouring, carefully cut open the bag to make this easier to transfer.

After you’re done, ensure the container is properly sealed. This creates a stable environment inside the container. It also prevents spilling if the container is bumped.

Once you have transferred the ashes, you either display them or put them away. Common display areas include a fireplace mantle, a shelf or bookcase, or a prominent table in your living area. 

If you prefer to store them discreetly, a cupboard or wardrobe provides safe storage. Sometimes, people pick a spot in the home where the loved one used to spend time like a bedroom or office.

Many people decorate the area with mementos, photographs, and messages to the deceased. It creates a personal space to remember the life of the person who has passed.

Inter the Ashes 

If you don’t want to keep your ashes at home, you can find a burial plot or a niche in a columbarium. Many religious locations or traditional graveyards have spaces available. 

People who have a history with a religious institution or people who also prefer traditional settings tend to choose these venues. It’s also a way to keep family members together if you have a history of putting remains to rest in a specific area. 

If you’re interested in this arrangement, get in touch with your local church or burial ground. You can inquire about open plots or niches. Then, you can arrange a time to inter ashes at that location. 

Circle of Rocks for memorial

Scatter the Ashes in a Garden

Scattering ashes in a garden appeals to people who prefer an organic setting. You still have a place to visit but these locations are more vibrant and natural.

If you choose to scatter your loved one’s remains in a garden, you must follow the laws for scattering ashes. These are predominantly enforced and managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You cannot scatter in public or private areas without permission. Unless it is your property, you must check the location beforehand to ensure you’re complying with local laws. 

One of the benefits of choosing a private scattering garden is that it has been prepared and registered for that purpose. So, you know that your loved one’s memorial will be preserved over time, unlike a public park or a residential area. 

After you choose a scattering location and get the appropriate permission, you can contact the memorial garden owners to facilitate the scattering. After the scattering, you’ll need to mark the location with something, like a memorial stone. 

Image of beach

Scatter the Ashes at Sea

A burial, or scattering at sea, takes place on the open water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and federal law, these services must take place at least 3 nautical miles from land. 

You can charter a boat to take your loved one’s ashes to an approved spot on the ocean and scatter them on the water. Often, your family and friends accompany you on the boat to be present during the ceremony to scatter the cremated remains.

This option is perfect if your loved one enjoyed the beach, spent time fishing, or was a Navy or Coast Guard veteran.

Memorial garden with planted trees

Plant the Ashes with a Tree

Planting a memory tree creates a beautiful remembrance. Year after year, the tree grows to create a verdant, spreading memorial.

Your loved one’s ashes can be spread during the planting process, making them part of the tree as it takes root. The tree can also be marked with their name.

Similar to other scattering options, you must follow the laws for scattering ashes. In general, you cannot scatter in public or private areas without permission. It’s ideal to choose a location registered for this purpose. This ensures the tree will remain undisturbed.

Scatter Garden at Rest Ashured

Send Cremated Remains to Rest Ashured

At Rest Ashured, we provide several ways to scatter your loved one’s ashes. Our process follows five simple steps. 

First, you start by picking a scattering service. We offer a scattering garden, memory tree dedication, and scattering at sea. You can see all your options on our Services Page.

Next, we’ll send you a package. This contains everything to mail us ashes for scattering including boxes, labels, and tape. It also contains simple instructions for how to prepare and post your package.

Then, you ship the package using your local post office or favorite mail service. 

Once we receive your package, we scatter your loved one’s ashes as you specified. After the scattering, we send you a certificate of release. This marks the date and exact location of your scattering.

Get in Touch with Us

If you’re not sure what to do with ashes after cremation, please get in touch with us to discuss your options. We are honored by each scattering, and we strive to help people say goodbye with dignity and respect. If you have any questions about our services, please get in touch with us. Call 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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4 Beautiful Places to Have Your Ashes Scattered

Couple spending time together

If you don’t own cemetery property, or already have a spot reserved for scattering, you should plan your ash scattering location. Otherwise, your cremation ashes may become something that weighs on your family. They will mean to “do something” with them, but feel paralyzed by the decision. 

We recommend reserving a scattering location along with your other end-of-life planning details. Then, your loved ones will experience relief knowing they followed your last wishes.

Table of Contents

Planning a Future Scattering Service
How it Works
A Place to Visit
4 Beautiful Ways to Have Your Ashes Scattered
In a Scattering Garden
With a Memorial Tree
With a Flowering Memorial Shrub
Together with a Loved One

If you choose direct cremation, your remains will be processed and handed over to the person you specify. It skips the funeral home (and related fees) entirely. 

Then, your family can hold a memorial service on their schedule. After, they can send your ashes for scattering — whenever they feel ready. 

Planning a Future Scattering Service

You can reserve your ash scattering location as part of your final wishes. This gives your family peace of mind — knowing they carried out your last request.

At Rest Ashured, we can help you select a scattering location and reserve your spot. You’ll have documentation to keep with your other important files. Then, when the time comes, your family can simply contact us to start the process. 

How it Works

When you pre-plan with us, your family can contact us directly. The process follows a few simple steps.

1. Contact Us

We’ll review your account and confirm the details. 

2. Watch for a Rest Ashured package

We’ll ship everything they need including boxes, labels, tape, and simple instructions.

3. Ship the package

After following the packing instructions, your family will drop the package at a local post office. 

4. Receive a Certificate of Release

Once we receive the package, we’ll scatter your ashes in your reserved location. After this unattended scattering, we send a Certificate of Release that includes the date and the exact location of the scattering.

A Place to Visit

Scattering at our private property creates a place for your loved ones to visit in the future. Rest Ashured is situated on secluded, private property — recognized by the County and permanently safe from development and intrusion. 

However, this discrete location is not set up for day-to-day traffic. Therefore, we open the property twice a year for a special “Day of Celebration.” We will notify all families in our records in advance of these events.

We hold one event in the spring and another in the fall. On those two days, friends or family members are invited to come celebrate the life of a late loved one. Visitors use this time to remember and reflect.

4 Beautiful Ways to Have Your Ashes Scattered

We offer four beautiful ways to scatter ashes on our property. 

In a Scattering Garden

Scatter Garden in Virginia

Our scattering garden exists on a naturally beautiful mountaintop property. We cleared it slightly to enhance the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and portions of the James River. 

It’s an extraordinary site where every hour of the day brings new gifts. After sunrise, early morning clouds often nestle at eye level just across the river. A nearby waterfall provides soothing sounds of rest and tranquility. The light breeze is as constant as the abundant wildlife living in and around this bluff. Later, a spectacular sunset over majestic mountains will take center stage. And after the sun goes down, the stars take over; away from the glow of city lights, the crystal-clear views of the heavens are rivaled only by those of the mountains. Here, life is undisturbed and unfiltered…revealing the awe of the Creator’s handiwork each day.

If you select this option, we reverently scatter your ashes in our mountaintop garden. Then, we place your engraved memorial stone at your site.

With a Memorial Tree

Memorial tree in virginia

If you select a memorial tree, we will plant a tree in your honor. With this service, you may choose either an evergreen tree or a leafy (deciduous) tree. Your ashes will be placed around the base of the tree, a scattering process known as ringing. Fresh mulch will blanket the ashes and display your beautifully engraved memorial stone.

A Memory Tree can also be plantedMemory Tree Planning without your ashes.  Some families simply want a living memorial.  We plant a tree and place a memory stone below, to serve as a testament to the family’s love and reverence.

With a Decorative Memorial Shrub

River Rock Memorial Stone

You can also choose a decorative shrub for our memory garden. As we plant, we will respectfully scatter your ashes. Then,  we place an engraved and personalized memorial stone beneath your flowering shrub.

A memory shrub can also be planted without your ashes. After planting, we will place a memory stone at the base of your shrub.

Together with a Loved One

Together Forever Stone

Sometimes, couples wish to have their ashes scattered at the same time and place, forever intermingled. 

With the “Together Forever” option, both your ashes and a loved one will be added to our scattering garden at the same time. We place a joint memorial stone to display the couple’s names. We also offer this option for our memory trees.

With this service, the ashes of both individuals would be provided to Rest Ashured at the same time and released at the same time. This means that the scattering would not occur until both persons have passed. 

Ask Us About Having Your Ashes Scattered

At Rest Ashured, we help people say goodbye to their loved ones with unattended ash scattering ceremonies. 

We are honored by each scattering, and we strive to help people say goodbye with dignity and respect. If you have any questions about our services, please get in touch with us. Call 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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7 Meditations for Visiting a Memorial Stone

Comforting Hands

A memorial stone creates a beautiful marker for non-traditional memorials like ash scatterings. They’re often complementary to the location — with only a simple message to mark the individual’s scattering site. Visiting these stones becomes a blessing for the family and friends of the person who has passed. In fact, we often see this when people visit our garden on our days of celebration. Our scattering garden contains many of these markers, which help people find the right spot in the scatter garden, or to identify their loved one’s memory tree. 

Table of Contents

What is a Memorial Stone?
Why do you visit a Memorial Stone?
What to do when you visit a Memorial Stone?
Meditations for Visiting Memorial Stones

Once our guests locate the personalized memorial stones, they spend some time at that special spot. Most people use that visit to meditate on the life and memories of their loved one; it’s a truly personal and beautiful moment. If you’re considering ash scattering as an option for your loved one, or your own end-of-life planning, the following information can help you during your future visits.

What is a Memorial Stone?

A memorial stone is a simple marker placed at an ash-scattering location. It helps family and friends find the scattering location. At our property, we place memorial stones in our scatter garden or at the base of a memorial tree — depending on the scattering option chosen.

Why do you visit a Memorial Stone?

Visiting a memorial stone is similar to going to a gravesite. It’s a chance to connect with the memory of a loved one and honor their life. Our property is private to ensure the preservation of its natural beauty. However, twice a year we invite visitors to come and see their loved one’s memorial stones.

What to do when you visit a Memorial Stone?

Sometimes, people aren’t sure what to do when they visit a memorial stone. We encourage our guests to take as long as they need at the maker. During this time, people choose their own way to remember and reflect.

  • Say a Prayer: Saying a prayer at a loved one’s scattering site can help you connect your grief to your faith. It can be an expression of hope, pain, or thankfulness for the time you had together.
  • Read a Poem or Verse: Before you visit, you can copy a quote that you want to read at your loved one’s memorial stone. Many people choose a familiar poem or favorite bible verse.
  • Quietly Reflect: Others choose to simply reflect quietly on their loved one’s legacy. In a world with constant noise and distractions, our peaceful mountain top offers a break from busy life.

7 Meditations for Visiting Memorial Stones

We’ve compiled some of our favorite verses to inspire your meditations when you visit your loved one’s scattering site. 

John 11:25-26

Slightly cloudy sky
whoever lives by believing in me will never die – from John 11:25-26

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

As you reflect on this passage, reflect on the promise of eternal life. 

Revelation 21:4

Two hands holding
He will wip every tear from their eyes – from Revelation 21:4

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Although you may be grieving now, one day the tears will be replaced with joy. 

Romans 14:8

Blue Sy and Bare Cross
whether we live of die, we belond to the Lord. from Romans 14:8

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

For believers, we can rest in the knowledge that we belong to the Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Blue sky with one cloud and bare cross on the right
onthing can separate us from God’s love! from Romans 8:38-39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When you visit your loved one’s memorial stone, this passage will remind you that the love of God is always with us.

Psalm 116:15

Amber, Blue Sky with some darker clouds
Precious in the sigh ofthe Lod is the death of is faithful servant – from Psalm 116:15

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.”

Find comfort in knowing that the Lord cares about your loved one’s death as much as you do.

John 3:16

Pink sky with light clouds
whoever beleive in him shall not perish but have eternal life – from John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Remember that God sacrificed so that we could all be reunited in heaven someday. 

1 Corinthians 15:53-55

Stary Sky with text Death has been swallowed up in victory - from 1 Corinthians 15:53
Death has been swallowed up in victory – from 1 Corinthians 15:53

“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

For those who believe in Christ, death is just a passage from life into new life.

Mark Your Loved One’s Final Resting Place

If you’re considering ash scattering as a final goodbye for your loved one, please get in touch with us. We can help you arrange the service and answer your questions. While we can’t ease the burden of your loss, we can provide a beautiful way to say goodbye. 

Call 434-534-4007 or email us at info@restashured.com.

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Everything You Need to Scatter Ashes at Sea

Sunset on ocean

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.

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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?

Boats scattering ashes at sea

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. 

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What Do I Do With My Pet’s Remains?

Man holding dog

It’s hard to try to figure out what you want to do with a beloved pet’s remains when you’re grieving their loss. Often, it feels like it’s easier to just let your veterinarian deal with things, so that you can grieve in peace. However, you have more options than that, and we want to make sure you make the best choice for you and your family.

There are two main options for your pet: burial or cremation.

Burying Your Pet

Burying your pet can be a good option in certain circumstances. If you’re living on property you own, you can bury your pet on your own land. If not, you can bury your pet in a pet cemetery.

Burial in a Pet Cemetery

This is not a viable option for most people. While pet cemeteries offer full services for your animals, they can be cost-prohibitive to many people. At minimum, you’re required to purchase a plot of land and a casket of some sort. Pet cemeteries are also not very common, and can require extensive travel.

Burial On Your Land

If your pet passed away at home, this is often the easiest route. However, this can’t be done on a rental property of any sort, as you can only do this on property that belongs to you. You also should be leery of this if your animal was put to sleep (euthanized), got into any kind of poisonous substance, or had a communicable disease. Other animals can dig up and scavenge the remains, causing them to become ill or even die.

On top of all of this, if you choose to move away from your current property, you will have to leave your beloved pet’s burial site behind.

Cremating Your Pet

The other option is to cremate your pet. Often, your vet can do this once they’ve euthanized your pet. If your pet died at home, many crematories offer services for pets. Once you cremate them, you have to decide what you do with the ashes. In this, you have three options: keeping the ashes, scattering them yourself, or having a scattering service do it for you.

Keeping the Ashes

This is a common option after you have a pet cremated. Often the ashes will be kept in an urn or box in the home. This can bring comfort to some, but others aren’t as comfortable keeping them around the house. It can also be inconvenient if you have young children or other pets who can tip over or break the box or urn.

Scattering The Ashes Yourself

If you own your own property, this can be a good option. However, there are lots of laws associated with disposal of ashes and remains. So if you’re going to attempt this option, ensure that you read up on the laws and regulations in your state.

Have a Scattering Service Handle It

Scattering services like Rest Ashured can scatter your pet’s ashes for you. We mail you a box with everything you need, and you simply follow the instructions and mail it back to us. Then we scatter your pet’s ashes on our gorgeous property in our special scatter garden. We can even place an engraved stone to serve as a permanent memorial to your pet.

There are so many more options for your pet’s remains than most people realize! Make sure that you’re choosing the best option for you and your family.

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Funeral Traditions Around the World

Woman holding globe

How different religions practice burials around the world?

No matter how uncomfortable the concept of dying may seem, the reality is that it is an essential and unavoidable element of everybody’s being. Death, as everybody knows, is inevitable and for that reason, it is necessary to plan for it so, that our belongings can be transferred to our loved ones.

Different customs and beliefs around the world have different methods of commemorating this inevitable, sensitive event, and so it is ideal to be informed about how some of the most prominent religions practice rites for the dead around the world.

Christian customs  

Christianity, the most populous religion in the world, generally holds a burial for the dead. For the burial, the body is draped in a suit and laid in a coffin with a cross. There often is also a viewing of the body, where friends and family can pay their last respects to the person.

Bereavement in Judaism

Similar to Christianity, Judaism also typically buries its dead. Jewish law believes that the body does not belong to anybody but to God, and that is why injuring a body is strictly prohibited under the belief. The body is purified by water so as to clean out any bleeding, dirt or dust, and then shrouded by a prayer cloth. People then set the corpse in a coffin and sing Psalms throughout the burial process.

Buddhist burial traditions

While Buddhism believes in burying their dead too, its concept of death is unique from other faiths. They consider decay to the body as natural with the decay of the world. They bury the body after a week and during the process, people chant mantras. These mantras address the circle of life and how the end is inevitable. The body is then lowered into a decorated coffin and then buried.

Islamic funeral rites

Islam also buries its dead. Islam believes that a lifeless body should be buried within a day or two, or it will be dishonored. Most of this has to do with how the religion also believes in life after death. Before burial, the body is purified and covered in white. In some Islamic traditions, people also apply scented and expensive oils, known as attar, on the body.

Hinduism’s last sacrifice

Hinduism is one of the few faiths that incinerate the remains of the dead, rather than cremating them. Hindu tradition believes that a soul can only rest in peace if the ashes are laid down into the Holy Ganges River.

When you know the burial rituals, you can be better prepared for the arrangements. You can choose how you want to be buried, in what type and style of a coffin, or if you prefer cremation and the many choices that exist for storing or scattering cremains.

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