Alternative interment arrangements, such as burial at sea, are generally handled by specialized service providers. Oftentimes, Funeral Directors have relationships with these organizations and are able to contract their services for you.
The most common method of burial at sea is a scattering of cremated remains. Whole body burials are possible but they are more involved due, in part, to regulations requiring them to be done at a specific depth of the sea and the need for a specially prepared casket that will descend to the ocean floor. The service providers that specialize in burial at sea are familiar with the various federal and state laws and will handle all governmental reporting requirements.
Scattering cremated remains at sea can be done from a boat or ship, from the beach into the surf of the ocean, or even from the air. Funeral homes also offer biodegradable urns that can be released into bodies of water and will float for a short time and then gently disintegrate, releasing the ashes into the sea.
The Department of the Navy offers free burial at sea services for veterans and their families subject to certain restrictions.
Some other little known options include sending cremated remains to a company who combines the ashes with a type of concrete that makes artificial reefs under water, sending ashes to a company who claims to make authentic lab-made diamonds, and even cryogenics (i.e. freezing the body).
If traditional burial, entombment or inurnment is your choice, keep in mind that most funeral homes have access to lockets to hold locks of hair or small portions of cremated remains, or keepsake urns which are small and can be used to divide cremated remains among family, or just hold a small portion while the rest will be buried or inurned.
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