Joyce Yoder and her family have made an
unusual decision. They have chosen to memorialize her
husband by putting his remains in an artificial reef
ball made of concrete.
They are visiting one last time before it is
placed at the bottom of the ocean, but they're not
"We look at this as an opportunity to
celebrate, not to mourn, because his life and his memory
is going to live on through the reef," Yoder said.
The Reef Ball Development Group of
Decatur, Ga., began making artificial reefs in the early
'90s. But in 1998 they started the Eternal
Reefs program as a memorial option.
"My father-in-law came over for dinner
and said, 'Don, I got a favor to ask of you. When I pass
away, I'm going to be cremated and I want you to take my
remains and put them in one of those artificial reefs
you build. I'd rather spend eternity down there with all
that life and excitement going on than in a field with a
bunch of old, dead people,'" Eternal Reefs founder Don
Since then, the program has placed
roughly 250 memorials for people like William Yoder, who
loved life and the ocean.
"He was a person who believed in living
life to the fullest one day at a time. ODAT, that's 'One
Day at a Time.' He always said that, you know, you come
from the earth and the water and that's where he wanted
to go back. So being buried at sea was very important to
him too," Joyce said.
Visiting the memorial can also be a
"Unlike going to normal cemeteries and
all, it's kind of dreary and you know, it's not real
comfortable for a lot of people. But you know, going to
a reef or going fishing on a site, or actually diving on
it and seeing all the life and the fish and the growth
is much more enlightening and uplifting for everybody,"
Reefs Innovations President Larry Beggs
The Eternal Reefs program cooperates with
the family throughout the process. They let them
participate in making the concrete reef ball in the
beginning and perform a site dedication on a boat at the
been very rewarding and very fulfilling helping these
people come to closure with their -- the loss of a loved
one -- and at the same time doing something good for the
world and the environment," Brawley said.
The memorials also provide
habitats for wildlife.
All in all, saying goodbye was as good as
it could be, Joyce said.
"Letting go is always so hard, and this
was a really good way to let go," she said.
For more information visit eternalreefs.com or call (888)