I am 6 months into my grief journey, abut it feels like 1 million years ago since I saw my Rick's handsome face. How can it only be 6 months!!! There must be some sort of time warp going on because 6 months and 1 million years are now one in the same. I see other people having a life, socializing with friends, holding hands, marveling at a sunset, and I think- We used to do that- WE had a life together. No I have no life. I am a contradiction in terms: I am alive but dead at the same time.
I had a co-worker ask me the other day 'what are you going to do with Rick's ashes?' I just blinked at him, not comprehending what his question was. Then I started over-analyzing it, as I seem to do these days. Maybe he wanted to know if I would be sending his ashes back to the UK, or if I'd planned on sprinkling them on some mountain top, or if, as my wicked mind was thinking, 'what do you think I'm going to do with them.....throw them out???'
Which brings me to this: my Rick was a Brit, and after he passed, I contacted his daughter and other family members in the UK to see if they wanted to have some of his ashes flown to them. Thankfully, they didn't, but I would have respected and honored their wishes, and would have had the funeral home divide up his cremains. However, my Rick wanted to stay on our 'little acre of heaven'.
Of course we all want to honor our loved one's wishes. But THEY had NO idea of the horrid, gut twisting, heart-wrenching pain that we all were left with when they departed. Even someone on death's door has no idea of the pain we survivors will be handed. NO ONE knows what this crushing heartache actually is like unless you have gone through this hell. It's all well and fine to have everything set up in your trust or will, but that's done while one is alive, and having no idea of what the survivor will have to face. Yes, we all suffered through their pain with them, or suffered the shock of an accidental death, but the fact is, many of us need to have something tangible of their life on this earth. I have my Rick's beautiful urn front and center when you come into our home, complete with two family photos, a forever candle and live orchids. I find it very comforting knowing that when I come in the door, My Honey is still there waiting for me, and I greet him daily when I come back from work. Yes, the two dogs get their pets first, but then it's 'Hiya Shoosie'! For me, I need to know that he's always there for me, and in fact, he's made himself know to me and other family members on a weekly basis.
I can't bring myself to ever scatter his ashes anywhere, even on our one acre. I can't lose him again.....not again.
Does anyone else have these feelings, or by not letting him go, is that something that may hold me back on my way to feeling "normal" again? Is it supposed to be like the Sting song ' If you love somebody, set them free' ? Am I being selfish?
And as a side note: I know that here in California, you must disclose that someone had died on the property or in the house. Does that mean that I must disclose that I have my husband's, mom's and brother's ashes in my home?
Others have read bits of this before, but I have most of Ron's ashes in the original box on my mantel, wrapped in one of his old flannel shirts, with his picture nearby.
The rest? Some are in the lake behind our house. Some are in the MO River near Hermann. I have deposited some in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Panama Canal, off Costa Rica, deposited in the Ganges at Varanasi while a Hindu priest chanted from the Vedas, and at the base of a huge tree in Kathmandu with Buddhist prayer flags fluttering from its branches. Some will go to Scotland in September. Ron knew this was the plan and loved it. I never scatter more than about 1/4 cup and, except in India where I knew it was legal, have been very discreet about it. I'll never let go of them all; I want the remainder mixed with mine when my time comes and disposed of whatever way my son wants. (By the way, I learned in India that Gandhi's ashes were scattered in 6 major cities in the world!)
There's no reason you have to let go of a molecule of your husband's ashes unless and until you're ready. I'd keep quiet about having stored ashes if the law doesn't require it; in fact, in my state, I don't think you have to disclose a death on the premises unless it was violent. Not a problem for me since Ron died peacefully in hospice care.
This is yet another thing, Shoosie, where there are no rules that you must follow. If you type the word 'ashes' in the Forums search box you will find some other discussions on this topic. And all sorts of responses. As far as laws in California, I'm sure the funeral home who handled things for you would have alerted you if you needed to disclose anything.
It will be 8 years for me this September and my husband's ashes are still here in our home with me. I had originally thought I would scatter them in places that meant a lot to us, but have found I just cannot do that. I like having him here - and my adult son (who moved back in) does, too. Keeping them has not stopped me from fully living this new life or feeling "normal". It's just a personal choice that I have made. And you get to make your own personal choice. You may change your mind after some time passes. And that's ok, too. Just give yourself the grace to do whatever it is that feels best for you.
I have the ashes in the urn on the mantle of the fireplace. I have given instructions in my will to have my ashes mixed in when I pass. When I am gone, I don't care what happens to the urn and our ashes. I will at least leave this earth knowing that we will be together again. It does bring some comfort to me at this time. I did tell family that I would like the urn to be buried in my grandparent's plot (beautiful spot, under an old pine tree) but there are no guarantees that will happen. With my luck, someone will pour the ashes in the trash and use the urn as a flower vase. The young ones will call that 're purposing',
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your husband.
I think the way that you have chosen to honor your husband is beautiful. But my opinion doesn’t matter. Only yours does.
My husband did let me know that he wanted to be cremated, but he did not tell me what to do with his ashes. Like you, I didn’t know what to do with his ashes and I wasn’t willing to part with them, so I decided to keep my husband’s ashes in a Japanese lacquer box I bought from the same place where I had bought my wedding present to him many years before.
I kept his cremains on my Buddhist altar for over three years where I could always seem them. Then one day I spontaneously decided to move his ashes to the altar cabinet right beneath the object of worship. So his ashes are still in a sacred place. I have a memorial altar right next to my Buddhist altar and his photograph is a major and central feature of this altar. Over the years I realized I was always turning to his photograph on the memorial altar as a source of comfort, not his cremains.
I take great comfort from knowing that his ashes are still in my home though. I told one of my sisters that when I pass away, I want my ashes to be mixed with his and scattered, but I don’t know where yet.
A bit different here. I followed the teaching of my Catholic faith regarding disposition of "cremains" which state:
"The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, and the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains on the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires."
My wife's ashes are in a columbarium at a national cemetery (a perk of my military service). The plaque is inscribed with my name, service branch, and rank plus her name and dates of birth and death. When my turn comes, my ashes will be placed in a vessel alongside hers and the plaque redone to add my date of birth/death.
Norm, my parents are also Roman Catholic and bought columbarium niches at their church 20 years ago. Less than a year after Mom died, Dad moved from Myrtle Beach, where they'd lived for 30 years, to Lexington, SC to live in an Independent Living place near my brother and SIL. Dad started thinking about his own demise and realized that none of the family lived in Myrtle Beach and their friends were dying off, so having a funeral there would make little sense. Last year he was able to sell the niche back to the church (apparently they're very popular), he and my brother drove up and brought Mom's ashes to Lexington and after a brief ceremony they were "inurned" in a niche in the church Dad now attends. It was a good solution- most of my siblings live nearby.
This does remind me that my husband Ron's ashes are still in the made-in-China plastic container from the mortuary. ron tried to boycott Chinese products whenever he could (and so do I) because of their human rights violations. I have GOT to find myself a nice wooden box hand-crafted by someone in the USA!
A PS since it's too late to edit- I was doing searches on the Internet for wooden boxes made in the USA and realized (sometimes I'm a bit slow) that my brother is a gifted woodworker. He made half the furniture in his house and has an immaculately-clean woodworking shop with every power tool hooked up to a hose that vacuums all the sawdust into a central canister. I just sent him an e-mail asking if he'd take that project on. My family loved Ron (he was my second husband after the first marriage ended in flames, and was the wonderful stepfather my son sorely needed). I love the idea of having the box made by a family member!
I think we all understand where you are coming from, and your choice, will be the best for you.
When I received Susan's ashes, my youngest son and I went down to Denver to get them. We set her on the floor between us as I drove back up to our home. When we got out of the truck, he asked if he could carry Mom into the house and I said yes. After looking around the house for a few days for a suitable place, I finally put her on a shelf in the closet behind me in my "new office." Later, I read several articles concerning the ashes and one kind of stuck in my mind. It was pointed out that in the case of a body, the remains are buried with suitable ceremony, within three days. This is for practical reasons, and also so that the loved ones can say "Good Bye" and begin their mourning period. From the time I married Susan she was beset with numerous medical problems. She was a diabetic, and that disease eventually caused her to nearly loose her sight, she had a double heart bypass, a couple of stints, 5 spine surgeries, and when she passed her body was trying to reject her second kidney transplant. We adapted and with my medical training (EMT) I was able to help and support her in some very stressful times. In a sense I became a caretaker. Constantly on the watch for some symptom that she might miss and changed my sleeping habits so that I could wake her to check her blood at midnight to that we might both get some quality sleep. The article pointed out that in a way, keeping her ashes was sort of the ultimate caretaker gift and that it could inhibit the survivor's recovery. With that in mind, I gathered the family 6 months later and we had Susan interred at a national cemetery in Denver. I too am military. I'm retired Navy. Susan has a fitting tombstone and when I pass, I will be placed alongside her and the engraving modified to include my information. I visit her often and that winter I was there in February. I was standing at her grave talking to her when a snow storm came up. I leaned forward resting my hands on either side of the stone. My back was soon covered in snow. Something clicked. It's that old saying that widows and widowers have..."You will know when it is Time." In my mind, I heard Susan say... "What are you doing???" I'm safe, I'm with the Lord, get out of the snow!"
I stood up and shook off the snow and as I walked back to the truck, I realized that I was relieved of duty, My watch was over. That night was my first real sleep since she'd passed. Shaking off that caretaker mode was the beginning of my climb out of that pit of agony and pain.
You are not alone. I know of folks who still have their spouses' ashes in a special place in their home years and years later. That works for them.
What will work for you? Only you will know.
Thank you all who replied.
Athena, how wonderful to have a family member put their own energy into the wooden box- that gives it a special vibration.
Last week, I had a wonderful photo enlarged and framed of Rick, and have placed it beside his urn, forever candle and orchids. It was taken 2 years ago at one of our markets, and his love of life and tremendous joy just shine through in the picture. I have painted the bedrooms into colors I like, and thought, 'well Rick, how about you come back into the bedroom, so you can have a better view of the yard?' I know it's silly, but I didn't have one decent night's sleep for one week. I chuckled to myself, and moved his urn back to the foyer, and I've slept well since. I am glad to have taken SpringLight's idea of having a photo next to his urn. I have the same photo on my work desk, next to our wedding photo with another forever candle burning. I know he's in The Light, but I don't want him to ever feel in the dark, so I keep the battery operated candles going 24/7.
Thanks to all, and peace to all my grief brothers and sisters
Shoosie, your loss is still very recent. The feelings you describe seem normal for someone who is grieving. IMO grief is more like a process and for many of us, we let go a little at a time.( more like increments). Whether it be tossing out a toothbrush or sorting through personal items, there will be a time when we’re able to do these things without the intense emotion. Some people find comfort in leaving things right where the spouse or partner left them! There is no time limit, neither is wearing your wedding rings.
You might want to wait before you do anything with his ashes. There’s no rush, right? I buried my husband’s ashes and I plan to be buried with him. Would that be something you would want to consider? Think it through but in time, you’ll know. I don’t know if your husband expressed to you what he wanted, but sometimes we have to do what we are comfortable doing and what makes sense. I believe in honoring requests too but we can’t always so don’t feel guilty about it.
Be patient with yourself and please believe that life will get better again. It takes time Shoosie, but we do heal. Never give up on hope!
Since my post, I've noticed mentions of religious practices regarding cremains, so I feel I should point out that where I chose to place my husband’s ashes was strictly individual.
My husband and I are of different religious faiths, and I arranged a Christian funeral service for him because he was active in a Christian church. However, that was my decision: He never specified what type of service he wanted. I turned to and completely depended on members of his congregation for all aspects of the service. I am so grateful for their help, and their love for him means everything to me.
Unlike most members of his congregation, who favor burial, he chose to be cremated. In over 30 years as a Buddhist, I've never known anyone in my sect to place their dearly departed on their altar even temporarily. However, no one in my sect has ever objected to where I placed my husband’s cremains.
My decisions were guided by my experiences with my husband. For our multi-faith wedding service, my husband made a special effort and learned to recite the somewhat challenging Buddhist liturgy of my sect: The liturgy is in a language that even people from the country of origin struggle to learn. And he kept the Buddhist liturgy book from our wedding in his own sacred space in our home.
In my humble opinion, I believe any place where we choose to honor a loved one is a sacred/special place. I also respect your concern about the legality of keeping your beloved's cremains in your home. We don't live in the same state, so I'm unable to answer your question.
Hi Sooshie2 and sorry you are in the club no one wants to join. My husband wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered at Battleship Rock out side of Albuquerque, NM. I did keep some for me as that was what I wanted to do. Most all of his ashes are scattered where he wanted. It's a personal choice and one only you can make. There is no right on wrong on this journey. Do what you feel is best for you. I do have a small place set up in my bedroom on the vanity that and I have a patch sitting in front of the cremains box they had at the funeral home in Corozal, Belize C.A. that says "Flying with Angels".