So You’ve Decided on Cremation – Now What? by Michael Tabers, Neptune Memorial Reef
More families and individuals in the United States are choosing cremation than ever before. With that being the case the question of what happens to the cremated remains, also referred to as ashes, becomes an important decision. Many are searching for an alternative to traditional options such as placement in a cemetery, taking the ashes home in an urn or scattering with no memorialization. Others are looking for environmental-friendly choices.
As Floridians, most of us have a love of the sea and feel a natural connection to it. In 2007, a unique, one-of-a-kind alternative was launched when construction of the Neptune Memorial Reef began in Key Biscayne, approximately 3 miles off the coast of Miami Beach (GPS coordinates: N 25° 42.036’, W 80° 05.409’). The original idea was to create a new reef system in a barren area of the ocean that was lacking important habitat for new marine life. The goal was to create a unique dive destination while showcasing the artwork of renowned Keys sculptor Kim Brandell by constructing the artist’s conception of the Lost City of Atlantis. The idea to incorporate cremated remains was recognized as an opportunity to provide a unique final resting place for those who love the ocean and care about the environment.
The Neptune Memorial Reef is the largest man-made reef ever conceived. It is an environmental and ecological masterpiece, a superb laboratory for marine biologists, students, researchers and ecologists. The master plan is for the reef to encompass 16 acres and will provide a beautiful and lasting resting place for over 250,000 individuals.
The cremated remains are mixed with non-polluting cement and formed in molds to create a “placement”. There are several placement options offered including marine figures such as a starfish, sea shell, turtle, stingray and most recently added a lion and mermaid. A placement in the Neptune Memorial Reef becomes a building block and home to coral, sponge and other invertebrate life; it creates “Life After Life.”
The family is welcome to be present during the mixing of the placement and is scheduled at the family’s convenience. The family may also help with the mixing, add trinkets or a note to the mix or leave hand prints on the placement. The family also has the option to rent, charter or use their own boat when the deployment of the placement takes place. They may meet at the dock to see the crew off for the deployment and a military salute may be arranged, when appropriate, at the dock as well.
The Neptune Memorial Reef project is environmentally sound and meets the strict guidelines and the permitting of DERM, EPA, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers and has received special recognition for its contributions to the environment by the Green Burial Council. More information is available at our website https://nmreef.com/
~ Michael Tabers
Michael Tabers is Community Resource Director & Licensed Funeral Director at Neptune Memorial Reef and Dignity Memorial. His office is located in Ft. Lauderdale at the Neptune Memorial Reef studio at 1801 E. Oakland Park Blvd. He is available for studio or in-home appointments or for phone consultation. He can be reached by phone or text at (754) 222-1177 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org