Scatter Me At Sea

Dear Funeral Director:

My husband loves fishing, boating and the Long Island Sound and spends most of his time out on the water when he can. When he comes home from a great day on the water, he jokingly tells me that when he dies, he wants to be cremated and have my son and I scatter his ashes out on the Sound. Even though he tells me this half-jokingly, he asked me to find out if this is a real possibility. Is this possible?

Lisa C.
Stamford, CT

Dear Lisa,

It is most certainly possible; just make sure you jot down the coordinates of your husband’s favorite fishing spot!

On a serious note, scattering ashes (cremains) is a profoundly personal act which is generally undertaken in accordance with the wishes of the deceased, as is the case with your husband. Cremains are normally scattered in a place that symbolizes fond memories for the deceased or in a place of true natural beauty. Today, more and more people choose to scatter cremains “at sea”; what was traditionally a naval farewell is now the funeral service of choice for many folks who feel a sense of peace and tranquility on, or have an affinity towards, the water.

There are scattering urns, or other scattering devices, available that are purposefully designed for scattering cremains at sea. Instead of simply scattering the cremains, they are placed into a bio-friendly scattering urn made from either recycled paper or unfired clay. Once placed in the water, these types of containers float for a short while before sinking to the water’s floor. Once at rest on the bottom, the scattering urn rapidly dissolves without any environmental consequence.

The service choices that can be incorporated into such a ceremony can include a religious component or it can be a simple gathering of immediate family and close friends. The typical scattering at sea service would launch from a designated dock and upon reaching the point of dispersal, the boat will stop and weigh anchor. The cremation memorial service will then begin and occur within your own time, at which time the cremains are scattered into the Sound. There are even floral arrangements and wreaths consisting of materials that are readily decomposable in the marine environment that can accompany the cremains at the burial site.

The only legalities presiding over these types of ceremonies is that the scattering must take place three nautical miles from shore and that the Environmental Protection Agency is notified, in writing, within 30 days of the scattering ceremony.

If you’d like to gather more information, please feel free to contact me. We can certainly assist families in arranging this type of request. Thank you for the very interesting question Lisa.

Best regards,

Gerald R. Bosak, Jr.

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