I hate hot weather, being burnt generally and cremation in particular. So I’ve always wanted to be buried at sea since I heard about it: Bagged up in sailcloth, with some lead shot at my feet and the last stitch through my nose. The North Atlantic, ideally. But how to go about it? There’s a few bits and bobs online (and here), which Tom Cutler summarises:
If you want to bury a person off the English coast without incinerating them first, you should let them know when you register the death and… get hold of an Out of England form (Form 104) from the coroner. You must also apply to DEFRA for a free licence under… the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. Include a doctor’s certificate with your application, confirming the body has no fever or infection (embalmed bodies may not be buried at sea.)
… burials are restricted to:
- The Needles Spoil Ground, west of the Isle of Wight;
- Somewhere off the Northumberland coast;
- Somewhere near Newhaven.
You can arrange the burial through a funeral director, or you can do it all yourself. It’s common sense mainly: weight the coffin properly – not forgetting to drill a few holes – make sure the top won’t come off and get hold of a willing boatman… You also need to weight the corpse with chains and secure a metal tag around it in case the worst happens and the body has to be returned to you.
Cutler, T. (2006) 211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do. HarperCollins, London.
Clarity. Although for the full trad burial treatment, I’d have to be lobbed overboard in my hammock. Only I don’t own a hammock.
Been getting into the swing of planning the whole thing, in fact. The Anglican prayer book has a special bit for burials at sea, which I reckon would sound pretty awesome at the time:
UNTO Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
(1928 Book of Common Prayer)
… All of which has got me thinking about music. One way or another there’s going to be a massive party, too!