Our Sea Burial On A Rainy Day In A Walpole Bay

Covid-19 interrupted funeral ceremonies around the world. Births, deaths and marriages were affected during the pandemic. Not everyone could attend when and where they happened. Our special funeral ceremony was popped on pause because of it. After two years of border closures, on/off again isolations and lockdowns, it was time to finish what was started.

Margo’s mother died almost twenty years ago, cremated and then her ashes were placed into a wooden box. Her father passed more recently and was put into a bottle. The deal was to wait for Covid to pass and then to find the right moment for the family to gather for an official scattering of the ashes. Theirs was to cast them to the sea — to a place that meant something to the couple when they were alive.

I could give you a GPS location to where they were scattered but that’s not going to change your life. Knowing why we chose where to lay our loved ones to rest might help better — as I’m sure there are others who are considering where to spread the ashes of their loved ones too.

Walpole. The family often holidayed there. When the couple was younger, they and their young family fished and crabbed there. It’s a watery playground. Their children (and grandchildren) learned to enjoy boating life in Walpole. Many life experiences were gained there. Whenever the parents talked about the good ol’ times, Walpole was mentioned. It wasn’t a hard decision for the kids to make about where to take their parent’s ashes after they were gone. Walpole was the right place.

The family the couple raised has grown up and moved away. Some live across several state lines (and different countries). Few of them have been back to Walpole since those good ol’ times. Returning everyone (grandchildren included) to the town at the same time was difficult.

The truth is, that box and bottle of ashes couldn’t care less. They could be used for doorstops and nothing inside them would know. They wouldn’t be offended — but that’s not the case for the living who labour over their own mortality and what will become of them after they’re gone. We want respect after our passing. Respect is a good motivator. We don’t want to be doorsteps or paperweights for the next generation.

Margo, Linda and Brenda returned their parents to a place and time in their memories when smiles were abundant. Everyone laughed there. Their mum and dad would’ve approved of being laid to rest in the waters off Walpole.

Three Generations Return To Walpole

Houseboats on the Nornalup Inlet. We rented two of them for three days for the purpose of scattering ashes and introducing the young ones to a place that meant so much to someone they didn’t know. We did what had been done before. For the first two days, we fished, crabbed, ate and drank like the good ol’ times. Day three had a sombre feel to it. That’s when the box and bottle of parents made it onto the deck of the boat. I videoed the moment (plus a few others earlier in the trip) and popped it here for you to see.

The three daughters opted to use Australian wheat stalks instead of flowers. It made sense to throw them into the water after the ashes went out. Wheat represents Australia. It’s grown everywhere. It’s biodegradable.

ABOUT

I like cremations. They return the body back to the earth sooner. They are a selfless way to make flesh turn to dust again and be reabsorbed into the circle of life. Bodies that permanently occupy a small piece of land just seem wrong. The living already uses up too much space. Why give dead people real estate they won’t need? The memory of their existence is kept elsewhere anyway. They won’t be forgotten. We all know where Ted and Barbara are now. Together again.

Michael

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