What To Expect

Families and friends are invited to attend as well as participate in the casting of their loved one’s Eternal Reef. Participation is encouraged but not required.


The casting

The casting is performed in the community near the designated reef site. Eternal Reefs brings a pre-cast reef ball to the casting site where families have the opportunity, if they wish, to mix the remains into concrete to form a “pearl.” The pearl is a center piece that fits inside the reef ball. After the pearl has been cast, a fresh layer of specialized concrete covers the top of the reef ball. Families can then personalize the top with hand prints, written messages and other environmentally-safe mementos in the damp concrete. We provide a variety of seashells, colored glass beads and small charms to supplement other mementos if desired.

Many families tell us this is a meaningful way to stay in touch for eternity.

Note: in decorating the personalization ring, no plastic or anything toxic to the environment can be included. Please contact us if you are unsure about the types of memorabilia that can be included.

The casting is an outdoor construction process so please dress appropriately. For your safety, do not wear open-toed shoes, sandals or heels and be aware of the weather. For family and friends that are unable to attend the casting or do not feel comfortable participating, Eternal Reefs staff will perform all aspects of the Eternal Reef casting.

Eternal Reefs work day

The second day families are free to relax and enjoy the vacation community in which their loved one will rest. The Eternal Reefs staff secures the pearl in place and finishes preparing all the reef memorials for families to view the next day.

The viewing

The third day is the viewing which typically takes place at the casting location. The first time families and friends see and touch the Eternal Reef, the viewing is an opportunity to take photos, make rubbings of the bronze plaque and write final goodbyes and tributes on the outside and inside the memorials. We provide rubbing wax and paper for the bronze plaque rubbings as well as children’s sidewalk chalk to write messages. Families tell us the experience is as healing for them as it is for the sea.

Military Service Honors

We are always privileged when veterans and their families join us. During the viewing, Eternal Reefs arranges for military honors to be presented for eligible service men and women. The Honor Guard places folded flags onto the appropriate Eternal Reefs and presents them to each family,

As the presentation begins, the Honor Guard approaches and Taps is played. At the conclusion of Taps, the Honor Guard folds the flag, presents it to the family and marches off, concluding the presentation. The military funeral honors presentation is a particularly moving and cherished experience for all in attendance.

Military honors can only be presented to each service person one time. To determine eligibility, Eternal Reefs must receive a legible copy of the deceased veteran’s DD-214 discharge papers along with the order forms by the cut-off date. This will give us the opportunity to work with the Veterans Administration to arrange the honors.

We frequently have more than one person receiving honors and this process is repeated until all eligible service men and women have been honored. United States veterans, their surviving spouse, and children may be eligible for certain benefits. The websites listed below are excellent online resources for families to research potential benefits and their eligibility.

The placement & dedication

On the day of your loved one’s Eternal Reef placement and dedication, we ask family and friends to arrive at the appointed boat dock promptly as communicated. All family members and friends ride on the family boat to the reef site to meet the boat that transports and places the Eternal Reefs. We then conduct the dedication and placement of the reefs and return to the dock.

During the boat ride to the Eternal Reef site, family and friends are given a tribute reef (miniature reef balls) to decorate with fresh flowers as a dedication to their loved one. A wide assortment of flowers is provided.

Once the family boat arrives at the Eternal Reef site, the placement boat positions and prepares each Eternal Reef. As each reef is readied to be placed, the individual’s name is announced and the family witnesses their love one’s reef lowered to the ocean floor as a final memorial.

The Dedication

Once all the Eternal Reefs are safely placed, the placement boat moves away and the family boat then moves over the memorial site. Each family is given an opportunity to come to the rail and individually dedicate the reef site to their loved one. Families say their final goodbyes and finish by dropping the tribute reefs into the sea.

Once all individual dedications are complete, Eternal Reefs then dedicates the site to all the people who have become a part of the Eternal Reef and reads a short passage from “The Sea,” a speech by President John F. Kennedy. The boat horn sounds three times as a final tribute and we make our way back to the dock.

Eternal Reefs provides tribute reefs, assorted fresh flowers and bottled water for the boat ride to the Eternal Reef ocean placement site. You may bring any food items with you that would make your trip more comfortable. Please keep in mind we are on the water doing a marine construction project and we strongly suggest not making return flight arrangements before 5 p.m. the day of the dedication.

Mother Nature’s Finish Work

The Family Boat
Eternal Reefs arranges for a charter family boat to accommodate family and friends wishing to attend your loved one’s reef dedication and placement. The cost is $75 per person, regardless of age, for each person planning to attend.

All reservations for the family boat must be completed and paid for two weeks prior to the casting.

Weather and the environment
There are a number of issues that can impact our ability to place the memorials on the day and time scheduled. Reef building is a marine construction project and it can be impacted by both weather and equipment availability. Wind and waves are always an important consideration. Even tidal fluctuations can cause delays and prevent the memorials being safely placed.

If, for any reason Eternal Reefs is unable to place the memorials on the scheduled date or time, we will still attempt to take families and friends to dedicate the reef site if conditions allow. We will place the reefs the following day, if possible, and have the family boat on notice so family members can view the placement. If the weather does not improve and Eternal Reefs is unable to make arrangements to have the family view the placement, Eternal Reefs will place the reefs as soon as possible and notify the families of the successful placement. If families are unable to attend, Eternal Reefs will take pictures and video of the placement.

If you or someone in your group is prone to sea sickness and nausea, please take appropriate steps to prepare for a journey on the water.

Dress appropriately
All Eternal Reefs events are intended to be comfortable for the families and are informal. For your loved one’s Eternal Reef casting, please wear outdoor clothing or something you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. For your safety, please do not wear open-toed shoes, heels or sandals.

For the Eternal Reef viewing, please wear something comfortable. Remember, you will be writing messages, making rubbings of your loved one’s bronze plaque and taking photos. Please be respectful of other families in your dress. Shirts and footwear are required.

On the day of the Eternal Reef dedication, you will need to pack for the unexpected, so be sure to watch the weather and dress appropriately. To protect your skin, sunscreen and hats are recommended. Also, for older adults, young children and those of us who need a cool place to sit down and relax, the family boat offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

Weather conditions might change, so also bring an umbrella or rain jacket to all events.

For the safety of our families and their pets, we cannot allow pets at our events.

If you need assistance finding accommodations, please contact us.

Eternal Reefs provides families with an assortment of fresh flowers for the Eternal Reef dedication ceremony as well as chalk and rubbing materials for the viewing ceremony. We have available for purchase a variety of keepsake items including Eternal Reefs t-shirts, hats, sterling silver pendants and tribute reef urns during our events.

We also take photos of our events and post them online. If, for any reason, you do not wish to be included in the photos, please let us know.

From time to time, members of the media request to attend our casting, viewing and dedication ceremonies. Our families always come first, so please know we respect your privacy. If you would like to speak with the media about your loved one, please let us know. Some families enjoy talking to the media, others do not.

If you are interested in helping us spread the word about Eternal Reefs, let us know. Also, if you’re interested in letting your local community know about your loved one’s upcoming memorial placement, we would be pleased to help you contact the media.