For many years, VMR Southport has offered a service to the community which is a little different to most services available. That is, the scattering of ashes at sea. Normally, this is arranged by a family member or friend of the deceased, however, it can be organised prior to one’s passing, much like the pre-payment of one’s own funeral.
More people are now using this service, finding it refreshing, for those who have had a connection with, or love of the sea. With families spreading to different towns or cities, states or even countries, the days of visiting a family grave on a Sunday afternoon, taking flowers and dusting the headstone are over, and a dispersal of ashes at sea is seen as a fitting and final tribute.
VMR Southport dispersal ceremonies usually take place just inside the Gold Coast Seaway, which can mean, weather and tidal conditions can be given less a consideration, unlike the way they would need to be with a scattering of ashes at sea. Of course, if the deceased or their family wish for a dispersal at sea, this can be organised.Family and friends are invited to accompany us on the Rescue vessel, and depending on the number of people who wish to watch the ceremony, a number of Rescue vessels can be utilised.
Each ceremony begins with a short talk on the peace and freedom the sea can give, then the closest relative is invited to disperse the ashes, usually accompanied by a suitable piece of music, whilst flowers are strewn upon the water.
Care is taken to make the ceremony as appropriate to the deceased as possible. Giving an example, for ex-naval personnel, the Seaman’s Hymn is played while the ashes are being scattered, and Psalm 107 – the verses beginning ‘those who go down to the sea in ships’ are read. This is followed by the Naval Ode, concluding with the ‘Ode to the Fallen’ for all Returned Service personnel.
A favourite of many is a poem called ‘Ithaca’, about life’s journey and the love left behind by a family member. This is particularly favoured by those who have lost a mother.
Of those who prefer a religious item, a common choice is the 23rd Psalm. If relatives prefer for a service to be conducted by a Priest, this can be arranged. Most seem to prefer a small civil ceremony. The saddest scatterings are those where a loved family member has been lost to suicide, and we have a rather special poem in these circumstances.
Memorial ceremonies can also be arranged whereby relatives can be taken to the place where the dispersal took place, placing flowers on the water if they so wish.
Dispersals and or ceremonies can be conducted on any chosen day and at a required time. Travel arrangements of relatives can also be given consideration.
At the conclusion of a ceremony, the family is given a memorial card signed by the President of VMR Southport and the Skipper of the Rescue vessel. This card is then able to form part of any mementoes the family may have.
Ceremonies are fairly short, usually 15 – 20 minutes, with flags flown at half-mast while relatives arrive and depart our pontoon, and raised again on their return.
Most people choose to make a donation to VMR Southport for carrying out this service.
Contact VMR Southport on ph. (07) 55911 300 if we can assist you and your family in this time of sadness.