Scattering Ashes At Sea Ceremony Ideas Guide

Written by: Adam Binstock

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Time to read 8 min

Scattering ashes at sea ceremony

For many of us, the sea represents a deep connection to nature, a sense of freedom, and a source of solace. If your loved one had this connection to the sea, a Scattering Ashes Ceremony might be the perfect celebration of their life.

In this guide, we'll help you go through the main things to consider when planning a Scattering Ashes at Sea Ceremony.

We'll cover things like choosing an appropriate location, different methods of scattering, legal considerations, and how to make the ceremony personal & special.

Why Choose Sea Scattering?

  • It has an emotional or symbolic connection: If your loved one or family have a connection to the ocean, it can be heartfelt and personal way to say goodbye.

  • You want a celebration of life: You prefer a memorial ceremony that has a celebration of life tone, as opposed to a formal funeral ceremony.

  • You want a personal & intimate ceremony: These memorials tend to be more intimate ceremony, with only family members a few friends. They are also more personalized and flexible to celebrate the loved one's life.

  • Eco friendly funeral: Sea burials are seen as environmentally friendly options. Releasing ashes in the sea minimizes land use and avoid the pollution associated with traditional burials.

  • More affordable: Avoid the expensive funeral costs (Such as caskets and embalming) associated with a traditional funeral.

Planning a Meaningful Sea Scattering Ceremony

Creating a meaningful sea scattering ceremony involves careful planning and attention to detail. We'll go through some of the important planning details below that include choosing a location, personal touches, and selecting a biodegradable urn.

Choose a location for Sea Scattering

Your choice of location is going to come down to a lot of things such as personal significance, accessibility, charted boat services, and local water regulations.

Below we will discuss the top three options for water scattering, how they differ, and why you might choose them.

Offshore Scattering


This is the most popular way to scatter ashes your loved one's ashes, which usually requires going out on a boat. 

There are many boat companies that specialize in scattering ashes services. If you're interested in this option, you can search "Scattering Ashes Boat Charters + [Your Location]" in Google.

Offshore scattering are intimate, private, and give you give you the freedom to create a personalized ceremony for your loved one. 

Coastal & Beach Locations

 

Coastal and beach locations are another special way to scatter ashes, with the option of trenching a biodegradable urn in the sand for a gradual return to the sea. 

The process of trenching, where a shallow trench is dug in the sand, and the urn is placed within it, allows the sea to gradually wash the cremains away.

One particular advantage of a coastal sea ceremony is that you can hold a small service on the shore.

River Scattering Ashes

 

Scattering ashes by in a river offers a tranquil and intimate way to say good bye, allowing their spirit to gently flow with the natural currents of a river. Spreading ashes here can be particularly meaningful if the river held special significance to the departed or if they had a love for the soothing, ever-moving nature of water.

Scattering Ceremony Ideas

floating candles

When it comes to making a scattering memorial special and personal, it's the little touches that count. Below we will give you some ideas and inspiration to help create an emotional service program when spreading ashes.

release flower petals
Releasing flowers
  • Release Biodegradable Flowers: Scatter biodegradable flowers and petals into the water alongside the ashes or urn to create a visual centerpiece. Flowers also carry a unique symbolic meaning, such as remembrance, beauty, or love.

  • Share Poems & Stories: Share personal stories, read poems, or deliver eulogies that reflect on the life and memories of the departed.

  • Release a Personalized Urn: A biodegradable urn can be the centerpiece of the memorial, where family member and friends say good bye and gently return their loved one to nature.

  • Use Music: Play music that was meaningful to your loved one, such as their favorite song or a piece of music that reflects their life.

  • Memory Capsule: Before the ceremony, gather written memories, photos, or small mementos to place in a waterproof capsule and release it with the ashes.

  • Themed Ceremony: If your loved one had a passion or hobby like fishing or sailing, theme the ceremony around it.

  • Floating Candles & Lanterns: Use biodegradable lanterns or candles to create a floating memorial, adding a serene visual element to the ceremony.

  • Include Symbolic Gestures: Incorporate gestures that hold special meaning, like releasing a message in a bottle, or scattering flower petals on the water.

  • Sunrise or Sunset Scattering: Choose the time of the final farewell to be at sunrise or sunset. The serene and quietness of dawn or dusk can add a profound sense of peace and closure.

beach scattering ceremony

Biodegradable Urns

As we have mentioned earlier, biodegradable urns are usually the beautiful centrepiece of any final farewell. They can be as simple as a temporary container used to spread ashes, or as symbolic as a handmade floating turtle urn. We'll discuss the differences below so you can decide what is most suitable.

Types of Biodegradable Urns

Eco friendly urns come in various designs and materials, from plant-based options such as paper and bamboo to natural salt and even ice. Each type offers unique benefits and features to scatter ashes.

Floating Biodegradable Urns

floating biodegradable urn

Usually made of the paper and other light biodegradable materials, these urns are designs to float in the water for around 5-20 minutes before they dissolve. These water urns are perfect for boat scattering where they can be lowered into the water at an appropriate time during the ceremony.

 

Below are our most popular floating bio water urns.

Water Urns For Trenching

If you want to scatter cremated remains on the shore of a beach, you'll want to choose a more sturdy water urn that will dissolve and be taken out by the tide. These urns tend to be made of salt or sand, and are much heavier than the paper urns listed above.

 

Below you will find some of our favorite water urns for trenching.

Scattering Containers

Scattering Containers

If you prefer to simply scatter ashes directly into the water, a scattering container is the best solution for you.

What To Say When Scattering Ashes

There's no set guidelines when it comes to what you should say when scattering ashes at sea. In fact, we encourage to say something that's personal, meaningful, and appropriate for the family members and friends attending.

 

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Prepare Your Own Words

If you want to say something completely unique and from the heart, we encourage to read our article about what to say at a celebration of life. But bottom line, here are some key things to remember:

  • Try keep it relatively short, aim for 2-5 minutes, 10 minutes at the most.

  • You can thank guests for attending the celebration of life service

  • Keep the tone of the speech uplifting and positive

  • Mention stories about the deceased and their legacy

Some Opening Words Examples

  • "As we stand by these gentle waters, we gather not just to say goodbye, but to celebrate the vibrant life of Jane Halliday, whose spirit was as deep and vast as the ocean before us."

     

  • "Today, beside these soothing waves, we come together to honor and remember Henry, whose life, like the water's endless flow, touched us in countless ways."

     

  • "In the presence of these tranquil waters and beautiful rose petals, we unite to celebrate Cheryl, a soul as refreshing and inspiring as the sea, leaving ripples of love and joy in our hearts."

     

  • “Here, where the water meets the shore, we gather to reflect on the life of David, whose memories are as enduring and ever changing as the ocean, a constant reminder of their beautiful journey through life.”

Prayers & Poems

Psalm of the Sea: "Heavenly Father, as these waters embrace [Loved One's Name], we are reminded of the depth of your love. May they find rest in the vastness of your creation, and may we find comfort in knowing they are with you, forever a part of the universe's grand tapestry."

 

Nautical Prayer: "O Lord, we cast these ashes into the sea, entrusting [Loved One's Name] to your eternal care. May the vastness of the ocean remind us of your infinite love, and the sound of the waves bring us peace, knowing they are in your divine embrace."

 

Celtic Blessing: "May the tides and currents carry [Loved One's Name] on a journey of peace and tranquility. May the waters cleanse and renew, as we remember them in the ebb and flow of our lives, forever a part of the world's natural beauty."

 

Native American Water Blessing: "Great Spirit, giver of life, we return [Loved One's Name] to the water, their spirit to the sky, their memories to the earth. May their journey be blessed with peace as they merge with the rivers that run to the sea, and the cycle of life continues."

 

"Sea Fever" by John Masefield: "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."

 

"Crossing the Bar" by Alfred Lord Tennyson: "Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea..."

 

"The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "The tide rises, the tide falls, The twilight darkens, the curlew calls; Along the sea-sands damp and brown, The traveler hastens toward the town..."

 

"Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye: "Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow..."

Legal Considerations

Before scattering ashes anywhere, we recommend you read up on laws and regulations in your location. For example, U.S. federal law mandates that sea scattering takes place at least three nautical miles from shore, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be contacted within 30 days of scattering.

 

Apart from legal requirements, using biodegradable materials for any items accompanying the cremated remains, like flowers or containers, is also important. By adhering to these laws and regulations, you can ensure a smooth and respectful sea scattering process that honors your loved one’s memory.