New York State Funeral Directors Association

Breathtaking displays honoring loved ones who are lost in disasters are situated throughout the American landscape.

Many are built after specific incidents – memorializing victims of disasters like plane crashes and terror attacks.

A new memorial being built in Louisiana will memorialize not those lost in certain disasters – but rather those lost in the sea.

The Lady of the Gulf Seaman’s Memorial in Louisiana, scheduled to open in October of 2017, will provide a central place of remembrance for people who grieve loved ones they’ve lost to the oceans and seas.

Though it’s geared towards the Gulf of Mexico, a popular destination for both recreation and industry, there are memorial bricks for sale which open up a memorial community to anyone grieving similar loss.

Since the 16-foot-tall mermaid sculpture is dedicated to “all of those who have lost their lives to the sea,” the memorial brick program enables anybody to honor a loved one lost in any sea.

Description of the Lady of the Gulf Memorial

The memorial’s website explains it was created after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig  exploded and sank in 2011, killing 11 people.

Its creation was sparked by Cindie Roussel, who lost her son, Blake Terry, in a 2011 diving incident.

She brought the idea to family of the Deepwater Horizon victims.Land for the memorial was donated by the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. Port Lafourche is situated on the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a heartfelt remembrance that highlights the deadly nature of the oceans which draw many to their beauty both above and below – and which claim numerous lives every day.

The Lady of the Gulf website mentions some of the activities those claimed by the water engage in: military service, the oil industry, commercial fishing and just the love of being on the water.

It’s a worthwhile endeavor – embracing all of those lost at sea – because there are many individual memorials to those lost in specific pursuits, such as commercial fishing.

Many people die having fun in and under the water, too – such as those lost while scuba diving, sailing, surfing and other pastimes.

Most of these activities have one or more memorials dedicated to those lost, including:

  • The Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial honors the thousands of people who have perished while out fishing – a pursuit that helps feed many people.
  • The Dead Surfers Memorial consists of tributes by friends and family on wooden plaques. It’s situated on the Pacific Coast near Santa Cruz, California.
  • There are memorial plaques dedicated to divers lost in the popular “Blue Hole of Dahab” diving site off the coast of Egypt.

I’m not sure how many people are claimed by water each year, but there are some statistics available to show that it’s as deadly as it is beautiful:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard counted just over 700 recreational boating accident deaths for the year 2016.
  • An old report on the website of the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in 2010 that there were an average of 58 commercial fishing deaths each year from 1992 – 2008.
  • Deaths not related to boating – drownings – claimed more than 3,500 people between 2005 and 2014, according to the CDC.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration counted 49 fatalities in surf zones along the coasts of the U.S. by June in 2017 alone.
  • The Divers Alert Network estimates between 80 and 100 recreational scuba divers die each year.
  • Thousands of military members have perished in the seas, for whom there really is no single, specific memorial.

The Lady of the Gulf Seaman’s Memorial can play a meaningful role in helping people memorialize so many who are claimed by the waters.

Memorial bricks of two sizes and memorial plates are being incorporated into the memorial’s design, giving those who lost loved ones in the seas a way to honor their names alongside those of others who were lost in similar ways.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association