Serene and beautiful photos of the world's first eco-friendly underwater burial ground.
Losing a loved one is hard for a number of reasons.
While the grieving process itself takes a toll, you might also find yourself needing to make several difficult decisions. There are legal issues, people to notify, decisions about the person's property or belongings, and a million choices about funeral arrangements.
If the death is unexpected or isn't thoroughly planned for, those decisions get even harder.
One of those decisions is what to do with your loved one's remains, and believe it or not, there are a lot of options.
Sure, you can go the traditional burial route, and there's always cremation, where you can either keep the ashes around or do something cool like toss them into your grandpa's favorite fishing spot (cue single manly tear).
There are also an increasing number of creative options for paying tribute to your loved ones. You can turn your loved one into a tree or a diamond or even a toaster, and if they were a music lover, you can even have their ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Really.
Another option sits off the coast of Miami in Key Biscayne. It's called the Neptune Memorial Reef, and it's the first underwater graveyard.
It's also the largest human-made reef ever built. Naturally occurring coral reefs exist all over the world, but they can also be made artificially.
A reef is essentially just a complex group of shapes underwater. They're important because they can provide shelter for small fish, protection from storms, surface area for algae and coral to grow on, and they generally help promote diversity within an ecosystem.
To make an artificial reef, you can sink something like an old ship to the bottom of the ocean, where coral and algae can grow on it and create a safe home for dozens of species.
When it comes to burying a loved one at the Neptune Memorial Reef, you can have their ashes spread at the site or purchase a plaque with their name on it to become part of the reef itself.
They also offer various cremation and memorial services.
The reef was carefully designed in order to promote the healthiest ecosystem possible — something anyone who loves the ocean and environment can appreciate.
"Every angle and texture of the Reef was engineered by a marine biologist to attract and support certain marine life to build an ecosystem," their website says, explaining that the vertical structures are home to "corals and coraling algae" while decorative holes were added to the design as a hiding place that "allows prey animals passage while blocking predators."
Appropriately, the Neptune reef was also made to resemble Atlantis — a fictional city that was lost underwater in Greek myths.
What better way to celebrate the life of a loved one than by preserving their memory in a way that helps protect and promote life?
Whether your loved one was an ocean-lover or just someone who loved this planet we all call home, an underwater grave site is a pretty beautiful — and special — resting place.