You might have come across both these terms: sea funeral and memorial at sea. When someone passes away, you may be asked to attend their funeral or their memorial service. However, you may not be able to understand whether these two terms mean the same thing or different things. Though a sea funeral and a sea memorial have a lot in common, they are not exactly the same. Both of these are traditional ways to honor the soul of the departed loved one. If you do not know it yet, you should definitely understand the difference between a funeral and a memorial service so that you know what to expect when you attend these.
Being a sea funeral company, Burial at Sea plans, arranges and organizes both funeral and memorial services for our clients. In this article, we will discuss the difference between the two for your understanding.
Like it has been mentioned before, funerals and memorials have much commonality between them. In short, both these services are conducted to remember the loss of someone. If it is a sea funeral, the entire ceremony will be carried out in a very formal manner. On the other hand, sea memorial services are less formal, but they still serve the same purpose of remembering a loved one who has passed away. By attending these services, you will have the opportunity to console the grieving family. At these ceremonies, the grieving family is surrounded by close friends, colleagues and neighbors among others.
Funeral vs Memorial: The Key Difference
Although a funeral service and a memorial service have many things in common and serve the same purpose, one major difference between the two is the presence of the deceased person’s body.
At a funeral ceremony, the body of the departed will be there. However, a memorial service does not include the body. This ceremony or service is conducted without the presence of the body or with the dead person’s ashes. This is exactly how a full body sea burial is different from an ash scattering ceremony. However, both these services are arranged in order to say a final goodbye and remember and dignify the soul of the deceased loved one.
What is a Sea Funeral?
A sea funeral is exactly like a traditional funeral ceremony. It is just that a sea funeral takes place in the ocean. At this service, the body of the departed person is present and the entire ceremony revolves around the same. Based on your specific needs, a burial at sea or sea funeral can either be an attended or an unattended one. A cleric may be present at the ceremony to perform all the rituals as per the religious beliefs of the departed person, and their family.
Here are some of the crucial components of a sea funeral or a burial at sea ceremony that you should have in mind.
Placement of the Body:
The body of the deceased person will first be placed inside a casket or a coffin. As far as ocean burials are concerned, it is important to abide by all the related rules and laws. One of these is to use caskets and coffins made of only natural or biodegradable materials.
So, you will first need to arrange a biodegradable casket or coffin in which the body of the deceased person will be put and secured. Using biodegradable materials will help protect the ocean environment. Placement of the body inside the casket consists of many important steps. It is always best to get in touch with a funeral company in or near your location, so that the entire casket burial at sea can be planned in a proper manner without any last-minute hassles.
The body is secured in the casket in a manner so that the casket sinks deep down to the bottom and doesn’t resurface later.
For sea funerals, the body of the deceased person is taken out to the ocean. So, once the body has been properly placed in a casket, the family hires a boat service. Funeral companies such as Burial at Sea in San Pedro, CA, offer both boat rental for burial at sea and boat hire for scattering ashes. With experts by your side, you can feel confident that the boat takes the body to the sea without any kind of issues. Before a boat starts to cruise along the sea, professionals check out if the weather conditions are ideal.
The casket containing the body of the deceased is released into the ocean. As the body is committed to the sea, the family can say a few words or a short prayer to honor the dead person’s memory.
A religious leader or the cleric may be present at the event to perform the ceremony according to the deceased person’s faith and beliefs. The casket has multiple holes in it as well as weighted down so that it can easily sink to the bottom of the ocean. Once the prayers have been said and the funeral is over, the hired boat will take back the family and other people to the shore.
If you plan an attended sea funeral, your family and friends will view the entire event as it was carried out in the boat. Funeral companies provide charter boats that have various accommodation capacities. For example, Burial at Sea offers a boat named “ASANTE”, which has the capacity to accommodate up to 25 people. Whether you want an attended sea funeral or an unattended one, you will need to discuss your specific requirements with the funeral company beforehand. For more details, feel free to get in touch with one of our specialists.
What is a Memorial Service?
Usually, a memorial service is an event where family, friends and colleagues gather to remember the passing away of a loved one. There is no body present at such an event or ceremony. In some cases, the cremated remains of the deceased may be present for the attendees to memorize the person.
During a sea memorial service, the cremated remains of the departed loved one will be released into the ocean. For this reason, it is termed as spreading ashes at sea or an ash scattering ceremony. The ashes are thrown into the ocean in an urn, made from biodegradable materials. Since the ashes will have to be released in the ocean, you will need to be taken out to the sea. You can choose it to be an attended ceremony or an unattended ceremony as per need.
A funeral company will help you plan and conduct the entire sea funeral ceremony from a rented boat in a proper manner.
At a traditional memorial service, you may or may not see ashes. Otherwise it is a sea memorial, ashes are not always required to carry out memorial services. This is because the ashes may have already been scattered at a particular location or in the ocean prior to the memorial. Compared to a funeral service, a memorial service may not need a great deal of planning. But ocean memorial services will always need proper planning and arrangement.
Funeral and Memorial: What is the Purpose?
Though a funeral and a memorial service differ in terms of how each of these are planned, they fulfill the same purpose.
Both these ceremonies are organized to dignify the soul of a deceased loved one. At these events, the grieving family and friends and relatives get the opportunity to say their final goodbye in a memorable manner. Since these ceremonies are carefully planned, they provide an ideal atmosphere for each attendee to remember the departed person and express their emotion in a safe way. Both these ceremonies serve as a reminder for all attendees that death is inevitable and life is uncertain. Most of all, it provides solace to the grieving family.
Why Choose a Memorial Service?
One of the key differences between a funeral service and a memorial service is that the former is organized shortly after death. A memorial or sea memorial can be organized after weeks or months of a person’s death.
This means you will have ample time to plan and organize a memorial service in the memory of a deceased loved one. This is exactly the reason why families choose to conduct memorial ceremonies. Since the body has already been buried in land or in the ocean, a memorial will be carried out without the body or with the ashes of the departed person. There are many other reasons behind people going for memorial ceremonies. Compared to a funeral service, a memorial ceremony is a lot cheaper. Many families will conduct a funeral service with a limited number of family and friends and then organize a memorial later for more people.
Immediately after a loved one passes away, it is hard for families to plan and organize a ceremony. But after a few weeks of the at sea burial, the time seems just right to hold a ceremony in the memory of the deceased person. Due to the availability of extra time, it becomes easy for all friends and relatives afar to come and join the memorial service in the memory of the departed person.
Funeral vs Memorial: Timing and Location
Since funerals mean burial of the dead body, this will be done in specific or designated places. In many cases, the deceased person makes a will as to where he would want to be buried after death. In the case of land burials, the dead body is often buried in a cemetery or local church’s graveyard. On the other hand, sea burials, as the name suggests occur in the ocean. If you plan to conduct a full-body sea burial, you will need to follow all the maritime laws and regulations in a proper manner and get all the necessary approvals and permits.
After the ocean burial has been performed, you will also need to submit a report to your local EPA office. This is essential to prove to the agencies that the entire funeral service was conducted in a lawful manner.
If it is a memorial service, you can choose to conduct it anywhere including your home, a church, or a community hall. If the body has already been buried somewhere else, you can also plan a ceremony for spreading ashes at sea. This can be a perfect memorial service to memorialize the dead person as well as honor and dignify his or her soul in the presence of family, relatives, and friends.
Still Have a Question?
Hopefully, you have understood by now the differences between a funeral and a memorial service. If you still have some confusion or want to ask a question about burial at sea, funeral at sea, scattering ashes at sea or full body burial at sea, and cremations at sea, head over to Burial at Sea in San Pedro, CA. Our funeral company specializes in the planning, organizing, and conducting ocean burials and sea scattering off the Southern California coast including San Pedro, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Catalina Island.
For your free consultation with one of our funeral planning specialists, you can give our office a phone call or send us an email.