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What To Do With Cremated Remains?


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To All

Hi everyone and Merry Cristmas and A Happy New Year Belated as much as possible.

I have a problem I would like so input on my sister Heidi and her husband Mike and kids came home fo rthe holidays and we had a great time EXCEPT they brought up the fact that I still haev my MOM with me in my room I have not made any plans to take her up to NEw York and put her to rest. They say Ineed to that we all agreed that we would go together and agree on when (when all of it happened) well now they want me to lay her to rest. I have her in a safe spot where she is resting to me anyway. I guess my question to you all is

WHO, can do this not me I have no idea how????

WHAT, do they mean that I have to lay her to rest???

WHERE, will I ever get the energy to do that and courage????

WHEN, is the right time??

HOW, can I for give my self for taking her to where I can not see her???

WHY, do I have to??

I want to be so selfish about this but they say that it is the right thing to do, that she needs to go home and rest. I thought that I could keep her with me always I have the little keep sake ones but its not the same.

Is it ok to keep her like she is or is it better to let her rest I have no idea please some advice would be great.

Also I went to Church on 12/31/06 with them and that was the first time Ihad been in there sence we had the service for my MOM man was that the hardest thing I had todo in a while but I did it but Icried the hole time I mean the hole time I walked through the doors and lost it and stopped whenI drove out of the parking lot I stayed for a few minutes and talked to her but man it was hard I listened to the service but my head was down and Iheard every word that was said manily about praying and not to ask the question on WHY so I am trying that but has anyone had the same problem with going back to the place your service is at and crying.

Thanks

Haley

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Dear Haley,

Families often wonder what they should do with a loved one's cremated remains. It goes without saying that cremated remains should be treated with the same respect that would be given a person’s dead body. They should not be left on a shelf in a closet, for example, or in the trunk of a car.

You can choose from a variety of options. You may decide to have your mother's cremated remains buried in a family plot or placed within a mausoleum. You may place the cremated remains in an urn which then can be placed in a columbarium, a building especially designed to store urns. Each urn in a columbarium is assigned a recessed compartment, or niche, which is encased in glass or ornamental stone. An alternative is to place the urn in a special urn garden in a cemetery. This gives all your family members (as well as future generations) a place to come on special days of remembrance, to pay their respects to your deceased mother. Experience tells us that over a period of time, family members find it reassuring to have some special place where they can visit, to remember and “be with” the loved one who has died.

Some families prefer to keep the cremated remains at home, in a special place of honor and remembrance. Nevertheless, in his book, Grievers Ask, Harold Ivan Smith does make the point that in some cases, keeping cremated remains at home can be a problem, or it can lead to problems later:

The decision regarding what to do with the cremated remains should be planned as you would plan for a burial. Cremation offers a potential for denial and postponement. Many grievers do not immediately pick up their loved one's cremains. Other mourners delay the scattering or committing the cremated remains because that will 'finalize' their loss . . . Some individuals delay disposition of the cremated remains as a way of avoiding the finality of death. Some individuals will never get around to it. Later, their own executors have been surprised to find a box and ask, “What’s this?” [pp. 155-156]

Scattering the cremated remains is another option, although it’s important to understand that once this is done, it is final and irreversible. For some, the scattering of cremated remains is a very traumatic experience. For others, thinking of a loved one as “scattered somewhere out there” is just too vague.

Whatever is done with your mother's cremated remains, I encourage you to talk over all the options with your family members, so that it’s not a unilateral decision, the wishes (or presumed wishes) of your deceased mother are honored, and all the survivors are comfortable with the choices made.

You might also find this earlier thread helpful:

Letting Go of the Ashes

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Haley,

I'm going to put my two cents in here. Personally, I think it is ok to keep ashes at home. My dads are here at home. Everyone in my family wants theirs to be kept at home! I also think that ashes are VERY special, but they are not the "soul" of that person. I hope everyone understands what I mean by that. So where they are (as long as they are treated with respect, as Marty mentioned) is not so important. I wish your family would understand the importnace they have for you. Unless they felt a need to be able to visit the site you pick (and I don't know the situation that well...) I think they should leave them with you. Maybe they think it will help you "get over" this if you don't have them near you. I agree with Marty, you need to sit down and have a detailed talk, where everyone can agree on something. Good luck.

Hugs,

Shell

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Haley,

I don't have any advice to give you, just to mention my experience. After my father died at the end of October, my mother and I decided to have him cremated, and we buried his cremains at a local cemetary where they have a cremation gardens section to bury cremains. Fortunately the cemetary is pretty close by so my mom and I can visit him as often as we'd like, and it is a wonderfully maintained area (it's only 50 years old) so that loved ones can feel some peace when visiting departed ones. As Marty and shell have said, ultimately it's a personal decision as to what you do with cremains.

Jeff

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Hi Haley,

First of all I want to thank you for bringing up the subject.. I am having a very difficult time with it as well... My family want to scatter my parents ashes and I just think it is awful, because the fact of the matter is it is just like throwing them away to me... I feel the same way as Shell I think it is okay to put them somewhere safe at home with you... but of course I am out number so I will have to go with the higher number of the family and scatter them but I will never forgive my family for making me do this awful thing... I hope this helps Take care Shelley

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Haley,

Is your Mom's plot purchased? I had the opposite feelings of you, sort of. My Dad kept my Mom at the house for 6 months after she passed away. They had purchased their plots 30 years ago but he was not ready to do it yet. I think it gave him some comfort to have her cremains there and when he was ready he buried them.

I never looked inside the box at her cremains. Not something I wanted to see at all!!!! Too emotional....but now, my Mom is buried about 10 miles away and I visit about every 4 weeks to change flowers or to remember a special day of hers. Where you find comfort keeping her with you...I find comfort knowing that her cremains are part of the soil and a place I can go that is not at my home. I know her spirit is with me all the time, but the spot where she is buried is hers.

Good luck...it's difficult to know when you are ready. Hopefully, you will all come to terms with whatever deicison in time.

Lori

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Hi Lori W,

I do not know about Hayley but I have made my decision up, I do not want to scatter my parent's remains and my mom had strict instructions that she did not want to be buried.... So what else is there except to keep them... I am trying very hard to tell my siblings that they all had families of their own and my parents and my dog were my family... So I lost the dog and I just do not want to loss them too... I would bury them but I know that is not what my mom wanted so I am stuck.... Take care Shelley

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Shelley,

This is one suggestion, if your siblings in your family are adamant about placing your Mom somewhere. The cemetery where my Mom is buried has a really nice section in the musoleum and there is a place to put cremains. They are glass enclosed so you can see the the urns and often times people have placed momentos and photographs of their loved ones. I am sure a lot of cemeteries have a section like this.

However, if you siblings are okay with you keeping them with you and you feel comfortable with it just let her cremains remain with you. Each of us feel comfortable with different things. My cousins lost their Mom in 2000. They still have her cremains and when her husband, their father, passes it is his wish to be mixed with her ashes and then buried together. Each of his daughters have some of their Mom's ashes for themselves and that makes them feel comfortable. This would not make me feel good at all.

I hope all works out for you.

Lori

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My family almost always is cremated. They are all in a mausoleum (all in the same one!) where you can have either an urn in a glass doored little cabinet, or else a drawer with the name engraved. Also, some of my family members who were not cremated are in caskets in drawers in that mausoleum.

That being said, I have no problems with ashes being scattered or kept at home, personally. My ex-husband's father wanted his ashes scattered, and my ex did that. But he himself said he didn't care what happened to his own cremains, since he believed that when the spirit is finished with the body, the body is irrelevant. Most people want to treat the remains with respect of course. But when my ex died, he had no family, so he left his estate to his best friends, for their young son and his education. They had him cremated, but did not know what to do with the cremains.

Just a few weeks ago, one of them emailed me to say she looked at the cremains container and feels so guilty she hasn't scattered or done something with them. But I said, lots of people keep cremains in their house. I told her it doesn't bother me if she keeps them until she feels ready to do something else with them. Or even if she keeps them forever. I think it will be a step of letting go for her, for she thought of him like a brother, but it is her healing and not mine, and not for me to say what is best for her.

Just my two cents.

Ann

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I think we all agree that this is a matter of individual choice. I just want to reiterate the very important point made by Harold Ivan Smith that I mentioned in an earlier post, because it's something we may not think about until it's too late:

Some individuals will never get around to [deciding what to do with the box containing cremated remains]. Later, their own executors have been surprised to find a box and ask, “What’s this?”

If a loved one's cremains are kept in the home, it's important to take the extra step of (carefully and respectfully) placing them in a sealed container, then letting someone else know where and how those cremains are being kept (that is, in what container, and where that container is located in the home).

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Hi All,

I plan to tell people where my parents cremains are so I hope that nothing like that happens.... Maybe down the road a little bit I will come to terms with it all and than I might feel like doing something but because they are all ready to do something I feel that asking them for more time will help me... I just do not know what to do... If you scatter them it is so final and what if all the grief and crying happens again I just do not know if I can go through it all over again right now.... Take care Shelley

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To All:

Thank you all for your thoughts on it I am still confused within my self and I am not sure what I can do. My sisters and there familys think that she should be put to rest. (burried) me I am so content with her next to me I get to see her (box) everyday every time I walk in to my bed room I have made her a little corner with a shelf and a few other things. My MOM, I know would want to be burried she has planned to be burried between my grandparents. My grandfather is past but my grandmother is well and alive. The place she wants to be burried is New York well I live in Florida and how can I see her daily if I take her there?? I do have alittle one to remember her by but I feel like its not the same I would feel awful knowing I put her in the ground I do not no why I feel this way but I do.

My brother-inlaw who is a ordaine Minister says its the right thing to do by letting her rest and it will help but I do not see how anything will help the pain of loosing her mainly putting her in the ground away from me. I am not the only shild but I was the closest one and I know what MOM wants and wanted but it is not the same as I want. I guess you can call me shelfish but I think I would freak burring her I know I have to do the right thing and Iwill but I am not sure when or how.

Thanks

Haley

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Haley, please accept my condolences to you on your loss. I just thought perhaps I would share with you my recent experience with my father's cremains (or part of them). My father wanted his cremains to be spread with my mom's (she also recently passed away). However, if you feel the need, as I did, to keep a part of your mom close to you, most of the funeral homes how offer or have a catalog you can order from, of "memorial jewelry." I have a beatiful silver rectangle that I wear on a chain around my neck that contains a bit of my father's ashes in it. The funeral home place the cremains in the necklace for me in the hollow part in the middle of the pendant. The jewelry is created specifically for this purpose. They come in lots of beautiful designs and there is something that is to everyone's taste.

I had Daddy and my father's date of death engraved on the back.

Although a member or two of my family felt this to be slightly morbid, everyone was in agreement that I could have the small amount of cremains for this purpose. This way, a part of my father is always close to my heart. I find myself touching the pendant often.

I just thought I would share this option with you. I have found it comforting. Take care.

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Haley,

I just don't know what to say. I feel the same way you do and, as I've said before, my dads ashes are here at home and my kitties ashes are here too. Fortunately, no one is arguing about this. We all (my dad, mom, brother and I) talked about this years ago. We all wanted to be cremated and kept at home. I wish, for your sake, your family would understand how important this is to you. I'm just so sorry you're in this difficult and painful situation.

Hugs,

Shell

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Annette

Thanks I just found out that they have that kinds of things I have a little heart that I got one for me and one for everybody (all 5 kids and my grandma and my Aunt) but I feel that it is not enough for me I don't have that answer of why but I feel like I need her with me. I also can not believe they actually burry them that sound funny I know but I have never had to go through this before I mean I have but I was so little I do not remember I mean they actually put them in the ground and put dirt over them and than I was told that I could put her in a wall but I can not go and take her out when Iwant can I? I mean its like the finale step and thats that how can I do that?

I like your idea but I am so rough oin things I would lose it or what ever I am on the go all the time and if I ever lost it I would lose my self well anyway I have my heart in a MOM box with a saying on it.

I really just want my MOM I am doing ok I guess but hey I have no choice in the matter.

I hate that thought of not having that choice but thats the man aboves choice and It helps to no he takes the best and only the best it just shows MOM was and is and will always be the best.

Thanks

Haley

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Haley,

I haven't been posting lately, but tonight, I was going through the posts, and saw yours about what to do with cremated remains. My Mom died June 14, 2006. She was cremated, and before she died, she asked me to take her ashes to the local Veteran's Cemetery, and have her buried with her husband, who died in 1998.

So technically, I know what I have to eventually do with my Mom's ashes. I plan to take her ashes to the cemetery...someday...just not now...not yet. My sister in California, asked me if I had taken Mom's ashes yet, and I told her no. She told me to keep them as long as I needed to, but let me know that I had to take her eventually.

I called the cemetery, and asked them if there was a time limit on how soon after a death the ashes had to be buried, and the man, who was very understanding, told me I could bring them anytime I wanted to. I suggested to my sister that she come over to Arizona, and we BOTH take Mom's ashes to the cemetery. I haven't gotten a response to that option, and it has been months since I asked her. My basic plan is to take Mom's ashes to the cemetery when the time is right for me, and no one else. I know my Mom would understand. I don't know how long that will be, but when the time is right, I will know, and I will do the right thing.

After reading some of the posts, I think I will google bereavement jewelry, and see what is offered. I would really like to keep some ashes with me, and since Mom loved jewelry, what a perfect tribute! I have asked the other 3 siblings if they wanted any ashes before they are buried, and they all declined.

So, in conclusion Haley...you are the only one who can make decisions regarding your feelings. You have to do what makes you feel right. Don't do something, just because someone else tells you that it is "the right thing to do". Do it for yourself, and do it for your Mom, and do things when you are ready to. Eventually, you will feel good about what you have done, for yourself and for your Mom.

Take care, and I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

Love to all,

Kim

PS: My Mom's ashes are in our livingroom, on a bookshelf, for now.

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Dear Haley

When my husband Rick died almost eight months ago, he wanted to be cremated and that is what we did. The crematorium divided his ashes so they put part in an urn, which we placed in a columbarium at the time of his death so that we would all have a place to visit and they gave us the rest. He wanted the rest scattered at our cabin on the Lake of the Woods as that was our special place and we spent all of our free time there. I wasn't up to it last summer as he only died in June and I couldn't bear to go there at all. I have 4 small containers, each different, one for my son, daughter and me, and also a small granite one with an eagle etched on it for us to keep at the cabin. This summer I hope to place some in each container and let the rest fly like the eagle I feel he is. You see when he was dying, I asked him to show me he was ok after death. Eagles were important to us as we spent so much time at camp, they sat in the tree just off the end of the dock. Just after his service at the columbarium, an old friend pointed out the eagle that was circling during his service and then again at home, my son and I saw him circling the reception in our yard. I saw many eagles with me this past summer as I learned to do things I had never had to do. The eagle will be more special now to me,not because I think he is an eagle, but I feel it is his way of showing me all is well for him and will be one day for me. I hope my story can help you. We are lucky to have this site especially if we have nobody else that has been through what we have. You can say what you feel here and everyone understands and you can feel their compassion and love. My love to you now Jane

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My sister was cremated too and MOST of her ashes went with her husband. My brother is a potter and he made her urn. He actually made three just in case one of them broke in the firing. All three came out beautiful and he thought it was fate since he had three sisters. He gave one to John for Teresa’s ashes and gave the other two my sister DD and me. He also made a small one for my mother. She has some of Teresa’s ashes in it mixed with the ash of Mt. St. Helen (a long story there). My "sister pot" has some small mementoes inside it that remind me of her. I have some of her ashes to bury in the spring with a tree I plan to plant in her memory. I don't know what John plans to do with the ashes he has, but I know he will find a place for them when he is ready.

Janine

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I have my mom and dad at home with me. however being catholic i need to place them somewhere. i am having a hard time. i meet with my priest every week for spirtual guidance and it really helps me alot. i believe firmly in my faith so i know that i must do this. her ashes can never be divided or scattered it is against the catholic teaching. i have to look for a place . i am hoping that maybe by doing this act of love my siblings will come around and maybe we can have some kind of relationship. maybe not but it will also have them a place to go. i realize that it maybe selfish of me to keep her only with me. she asked to come home with me so this is my problem. i feel like i am breaking a promise to her. she was catholic and believed very firmly in her faith. i should of reminded her that i needed to place her some place and then she would of told me ok. now i feel like i am betraying her. my mind tells me she would want to be someplace where all her children can go and my heart wants to keep the promise. i am working on this hopefully by the spring i can find a beautiful collabrium for her. say a prayer for me. Lori

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  • 2 weeks later...

Annette

Thank you and I also have a little heart with part of my MOM in them and I also got one for all of my family and they have theres but my question is what about the rest I have her with me and it hurts so bad to know that she will be put away from me and I will not beable to wake everyday and see her its bad enough that she left me but I have wrote my brother a letter asking him his thoughts on it all and I no my sisters thought on it but its me what about me I no that I am not suppose to be selfish but man it is so hard I have always been there for MOM just like she was and is there for me how can Iput her int he ground and cover her up I think I would hit rock bottom butI am not the only one in the family so it is up to all of us but it seems like they have hte same opinion and mine alone is different. They say it is only right top let her rest in peace. Well I donot bother her or anythngI just feel alittle comfort knowing she is with me.

I know there is no real answer but how does one do what the other want?????

Thanks

Haley

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Hi All,

I am still having trouble dealing with the question of what to do with the remains... My family all want to scatter them at my brother's place where they loved being... And I just can not throw them away like that... I have asked them if I could just keep them if they were just going to scatter them anyway and they all said that they need the closure of doing something with them... I just do not know what to do... They will not let me separate them as well so if I do not scatter them they will do it without me... What can I do but go against my own feeling and take part because I think I will regret it afterwards... Shelley

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Hi Haley:

It's a very hard decision that you have to make. Luckily, in my case, my siblings live out of state, and have not even asked me if I took Mom's ashes to the cemetery (except one time, a while back, from my sister!)

I know exactly how you are feeling. I feel like if I take Mom's ashes to the VA Cemetery, to be buried with her husband's ashes, that it's all there is. She's completely gone. At least now, with her ashes in my livingroom, I can see them, or talk to her, and I know it's her ashes...the last thing left of my Mom. If I bury the ashes, there's nothing left.

I know it sounds kind of foolish, but right now, that's how I feel. I imagine someday I will change my feelings, but right now, that's what feels right to me.

I did buy a heart locket, online. It's really pretty. My husband is going to transfer some ashes to it. I had it engraved with "My Mommy Forever" I figured that for special occasions (like my son's upcoming wedding), I will wear the locket, and Mom will be there! Does that make sense? (I actually think she'd be there anyway, locket or not!!!)

Anyway, I hope you can come to a decision that makes all of you feel right. Let them know how you feel, and see what they say. Maybe ask them if anyone cares if you keep the ashes for a little while longer. If all else fails, order one of those lockets or urns, and you can carry you Mom with you whenever you wear the necklace.

Take care, and keep in touch

Love, Kim

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