at sea burial

What to Say When Scattering Ashes at Sea

Many people choose to honor their deceased loved ones by either giving them a sea burial or scattering their ashes at sea. While carrying out such a burial, one question that will often come to your mind is – “What words should I use during a sea burial or when spreading ashes at sea?”

Should you say a few words or none at all? Most of all, is it necessary or expected to say something when conducting a memorable “final voyage”? If you are planning a sea funeral for your loved one for the first time, you may have these questions in mind. So, it is better to be prepared in advance than having to think and stress yourself at the last minute. In this article, we’ll talk about all these things and a lot more so that you can be fully ready and do things right during the ocean burial. Read on to find out what to say and equip yourself with lots of tips and ideas. [If you need expert help with the planning and arrangement of a perfect ocean burial, feel free to reach out to Burial at Sea Services in San Pedro, California.]

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Land Cremation vs Sea Burial

Unlike in land burials, sea burials or scattering of ashes in the sea require you to abide by certain laws and regulations.

If you are planning a sea burial for your loved one, you should make yourself aware of the maritime regulations. With professional sea burial services by your side, you can ensure that you know what these rules are and then follow them in a proper manner to avoid any kind of hassle. In a land burial, you have a spiritual leader to conduct the burial ceremony in a proper manner without worrying about what words to say. But sea burials are different. You will need to plan the informal cremation ceremony yourself as well as choose what words should be said, as per the thoughts and beliefs of the deceased person or their family and friends.

That is exactly why it becomes even more important to decide ahead of time as to what you will say during the sea burial or while throwing the ashes in the ocean. You can plan to recite a poem, a quote or some text that is meaningful, a reflection of the personality of the deceased and in accordance with your religion or faith. You need to be fully ready to say what you want to say.

Meaningful Quotes for Scattering Ashes

It is a good idea to read quotes while scattering ashes of a deceased loved one in the ocean. People use quotes because quotes are simple as well as meaningful. The good news is that there is no dearth of beautiful quotes and you can use them not just while spreading ashes, but also before and after scattering ashes. There are quotes that depict a religious belief. You will also find quotes that are secular, cutting across all faiths and religions in the world.

Given below are some of the most meaningful quotes that you can mention at the sea burial of your loved ones.

“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

This quote is a tribute to a deceased who has lived his or her life in a wise manner. If the departed loved one is someone who fought all the difficult situations in life and still came out stronger, this quote is a fitting one. This quote doesn’t just signify the meaningful life of the deceased, but it also provides comfort to their grieving family and friends at a time when it is needed the most.

“Lives are like rivers: Eventually they go where they must. Not where we want them to.” — Richard Russo, author

Although humans are mortals, passing away of someone is an event that fills hearts with pain, sorrow and grief. It is impossible to know when someone will die. But since it is a fact, we should accept it. That is exactly what the quote means. It allows the grieving family of the deceased loved one to acknowledge that death is certain and find solace at the critical moment as a result.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”

Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American novelist and writer. This is a popular quote that stresses on the well-known fact: Death is part of life. While it tells us that death is inescapable, what it also lets us know is that what really matters is how someone actually lived their life. It provides comfort as well as motivates others to live their life in a way that has meaning.

“Perhaps they are not stars but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are happy.” — Eskimo legend

Whenever someone in our family leaves this world, what do we wish for them? All we wish for them is that they have a happy afterlife. We pray for their peace in the world hereafter. The quote helps think of the departed loved one as an angel who has traveled from one world to another. Though this kind of thought is not scientifically valid, it does provide comfort to the family.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

The quote by Lincoln beautifully summarizes the value of a wise and meaningful life. It is quite painful to lose someone. But if that person lived their life in the best way, you can mention this quote and find solace.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell

While grieving someone’s death, what their family and near and dear ones need the most is patience and comfort. The quote reminds us that the deceased person has not died, but he or she still lives in the hearts of people due to their good deeds, kindness and love for others.

Likewise, there are multiple other quotes by novelists, writers and famous personalities to be mentioned during a burial ceremony. Whether you are conducting a full body casket sea burial or scattering the remains in the sea, you can choose a fitting quote, based on the quality of life of the deceased person in order to honor their soul and find patience and comfort for yourself.

Poems for Ashes Buried at Sea

Not just quotes, you can also read poems at the sea funeral or ash scattering ceremony of your departed loved ones. Poems are not just meaningful and rhythmic but they also touch the heart’s strings. There are countless poems that you can recite at an ocean burial ceremony to dignify the soul of your loved one and honor their soul as they travel to the next, permanent world.

Here are some of the most beautiful, well-crafted poems that you can recite before and after scattering of ashes or at a sea burial.


By Christina Rossetti.

Remember me when I am gone away,

gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

you tell me of the future that you planned;

Only remember me; you understand

it will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet, if you should forget me for a while

and afterwards, remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

At a moment of grief, people usually look at the departed person from the perspective of the mourners. In this beautiful poem, Christina talks about grief from the viewpoint of the person who is being mourned. She accesses various themes such as life, memory, love and loss. The beautiful thing about the poem is that the speaker wishes for the listener to remember her after she has gone. The speaker demands not to be forgotten. So, the major theme of Christina’s poem is “remembrance”, hence the title. It is a nice poem to be recited at someone’s funeral.

Honour and comfort

By A. C. Swinburne

From too much love of living,

From hope and fear set free,

We thank with brief thanksgiving

Whatever gods may be

That no life lives for ever;

That dead men rise up never;

That even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea

If you have planned a deceased loved one’s funeral at sea, this is a good poem to honor their soul and find comfort in a grieving moment. The poem talks about living life to the fullest and the soul of the departed person set free from all the burdens of everyday life. It reminds us that death is permanent and everyone has to face this moment and meet with their creator at last.

You can recite these lines to honor the departed loved one and feel comfort believing he or she has traveled to a safe place.

I must go down to the sea again

By Spike Milligan

I must go down to the sea again,

to the lonely sea and the sky;

I left my shoes and socks there – I wonder if they’re dry?

This is a short, sweet and funny poem. If you plan for ocean ash spreading or a full body sea burial, it is a fitting one.

Though there are several poems like these, each one has a theme, tone and meaning of its own. Based on what you like and what is most suitable to the life of the person you have lost, you can choose to recite solemn, life-affirming, funny or popular poems. Other examples of famous poems for cremations at sea include “Stop all the clocks” by W. H. Auden, “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas, “She is gone” by David Harkins, “She’s in the sun, the wind, the rain” by Christy Ann Martine, “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson etc.

Biblical Verses for Sea Funerals

The Bible has multiple verses that families can say before and after the sea funeral or sea burial of their loved ones. Using Christian text is a good idea if you or the departed loved one was religious.

Whether you are looking for comfort from grief, a reminder of God’s love or His grace and love, there are several Biblical verses to choose from. Psalms 30:2, Psalms 46:1, Psalms 62:1, Psalms 147:3, Luke 6:21 and John 16:22 are ideal texts that can be said at the funeral ceremony of a loved one. Likewise, there are verses to remember God’s grace, compassion and love.

In fact, there are specific verses you can say and find comfort when mourning the loss of a father, a mother or a child.

the funeral at sea

Hindu Prayers for Scattering Ashes at Sea

When it comes to cremation or ash scattering ceremony, Hindus adhere to a strict set of rules. For example, a traditional chant for Hindu families is “Naarayana… Naarayana… Naarayana.” It is a regular practice for Hindus to recite or chant text from religious scriptures such as the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. Usually, Hindus chant these texts to place their focus on God.

Tips on Finding the Right Words to Say

Emotions weigh heavy at a cremation ceremony. Unless you plan and prepare for what to say in advance, you cannot be sure whether you’ll say the words or the prayer in a proper and correct manner.

The best idea is to write out what you plan to say or recite at the funeral. Most of all, you should select words, quotes, or poems that reflect the person that the departed loved one was. You should try to remember the deceased person by his deeds and how the person lived their life. Do not forget to take the faith and religious belief of the loved one. What you have chosen to say should come straight from your heart. Also, it is fine to give other family members, friends, and peers a chance to share their memories and thoughts about the deceased person.

Are You Planning a Sea Funeral?

If you wish to plan out a dignified and memorable full-body sea burial or ash scattering in the ocean, you should seek the help of professionals who specialize in sea burial. Burial at Sea is a highly trusted service to plan, arrange and conduct sea funerals in an appropriate manner. Based in San Pedro, CA, the company provides full-body casket burial and scattering of ashes at sea off the coast of San Pedro, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, and Catalina Island. Our services also include charter boat hire for carrying out ocean burials.

For your consultation with one of our specialists, you should give our office a phone call or write us an email using the contact form.

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