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What should I do?  

4 members have voted

  1. 1. What should I do?

    • Go to India without M
    • Make M give ashes over and meet her at ashes ceremony in India
    • Make up and go to India with M, and hope she's OK
    • Ask her guru, even though he's ill with colon cancer, if she can go
    • Other (please elaborate)

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Dear friends,

I do not even know where to begin. The past couple weeks have been absolutely hellish chaos. I wish I could lend my helping hand to all of you out there - I see new members, new concerns, new faces - but my brain is a whirl!

The woman who my father asked to bring his ashes to India, let us call her M, is the current point of concern. I am going crazy because I do not know how I feel about her anymore.

Let me start from the beginning. When my father was ill, he asked M to bring his ashes to India. After he passed, M cared for my grandmother. M is a person who used to live in my childhood town, who I never knew very well, but I knew she had past mental and family troubles. When I heard she was caring for my father, I was a little apprehensive, but all of my fears were eradicated when I heard from my father, and saw for myself, how wonderfully and sweetly she was caring for him. She took care of his body, mind, and heart. She ensured certain people he wished to came to see him. She did things like bathe him, brush his teeth, cook for him, bring him to the hospital for X-rays, all sorts of stuff. This included enema stuff, too. She was absolutely kind and wonderful and sweet.

After my dad (and then grandmother's) passing, I established a friendly relationship with M. She became like a mother/friend, talking to me in my grief sometimes, sitting with me when my grandmother was ill and I was freaking out crying, and she spoke to me on her deep love for my father, and what a special person he was.

Since my father asked M to bring his ashes to India, M has been very dedicated to this idea, so much so that even when I was reluctant to wait for her to get ticket money, my mother spoke to me so I decided, ok if I must, I'll wait. So last year, when I could have gone (we want to go during Oct/Nov, during a particuarly auspicious pilgrimage time in a holy area of India), I didn't. So we made plans to go this year. Our plans have been steadily solidifying. I have been telling people I am going to India with my mother and M, and they are so happy that the ashes are going to be taken care of (those who were friends of my father), or alternately, relieved I'm going to this area of India, which is like the Mecca/Jerusalem/Bethlehem of my religion.

Then a couple weeks ago, I get this crazy severe phonecall from M's husband/ex-husband (living with her and their youngest daughter in my gma's old apt, which is fine by me). He said that under no circumstances should M go to India, that she is bipolar and went crazy last time she was there (10 years ago), that she physically attacked people, that she had to be forced back onto the plane, that she was BANNED by her guru from returning to India w/o her husband. And her husband refuses to go (why? I do not know).

So I call a trusted couple, the wife of who was implicated in the husband's story as having helped M get on the plane out of India. They confirm the story as true, and advise I take the ashes myself, since it is my right as family. They do not go into the details of M being "crazy" or not, just say that she had problems in India.

In an email to me, having heard of her husband's phonecall, M reassures me that she can handle her bipolar troubles by drinking enough water, eating enough food, getting enough rest, and watching her stress levels. Her reason for not inviting her husband along list several awful things her husband has done, saying, "He is not a husband," and that she doesn't want to email her guru and bother him (plus we recently discovered he has colon cancer and is hospitalized in Delhi).

In response, I wrote an email to M asking her kindly, to give me the ashes, b/c she already has so much on her plate, etc., that I would like to do this for my father (whom I could not do much for when he was ill), etc. M refused, and said she could not bear to not do this for him, as he asked her. So my mother and I talked, and agreed with M that if she starts having trouble in India, she will hand the ashes over.

So, for 2 weeks I'm going crazy, b/c this trusted friend and the woman who is currently in possession of the ashes, has on the one hand been perfectly kind and normal to me for 2 years, and on the other hand, trusted people are telling me that to bring her to India would be a risk to getting the ashes properly taken care of. To make matters wilder, when I went to visit a friend, her dad and another man (let us call them T and V) both good friends of my father's, reiterated that M is a risk, will flip in India, they are concerned about the ashes, etc. V even says he witnessed M being banned from India (well, actually that area, I believe, and not legally I don't think, but spiritually - but in the case of my religion, the guru's instruction is like law to us).

Sooo...I start to get scared, and confused, even more than I was. Actually, scrap that. I was confused, but hearing T and V made me think that perhaps M is indeed going to prevent my properly taking care of my father and gma's ashes, a thought I cannot bear and cried over many times. After talking to T and V, I started to lose faith in M. I do not like this, b/c she was a friend and did so much for my father and grandmother, but these are trusted people telling me that she is not trustworthy, not mentally stable, etc.

Then my sister (different father) and I went to talk to M in person, about giving the ashes to me for safekeeping. I prepared a whole speech beforehand, and I started talking about how various people said this, how I'd like to do this for my father....M says she believes her relationship, though not as his daughter, to be equal to the deep relationship I had with my father. Then my sister cuts in with more stuff, and when I start to cry, M stands up and says, she refuses to change the plan, and, "I'm not going to sit here and watch you cry," and she storms off, jumps into her car, and drives away. And, by the way, we don't know where she is staying, and when my sister recruited two of M's daughters to look for the ashes (my sister was very angry and is of the opinion that M is nuts and shouldn't be listened to), they don't find them.

Today, this morning, my verdict was that I would still like to get the ashes, b/c I am afraid of something happening with M in India. Then I read emails that my mother traded bsck and forth with M. In tehse emails, M still seemed to think that her relationship with my dad was equal (or even superior!) to mine, but she also gave more her side of the story, mostly blaming her husband for stressing me so much, and being angry that he wrecked our friendship.

Upon reading her emails, I feel back at step one. I don't know what to do or who to trust. On the one hand, M has a point when says that, as a loving daughter, shouldn't I follow my father's wishes, which were that she bring the ashes? On the other hand, various trusted people (excluding M's husband, who is iffy) are telling me she has no right, she's nuts, she's disobeying her guru's order, etc. It's so much, and I just don't know what to do or what to think, anymore. I'm angry and sad and frustrated, it's driving me absolutely bonkers. Doing this right is so important to me; I don't want there to be any mishap, I want to remember this forever positively, but I also want to honor my father, and M's very sincere desire to do her duty to my father.

Help, please! Or hugs! anything! And if anyone has been in a similar wild situation, please share, because that will make me feel less alone in this chaos.

P.S. I know this is complicated. Feel free to ask questions if something I wrote makes no sense.

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hi Chai,

It is good to hear from you, you have been in my thoughts.

I am so sorry for all this confusion and problems now arising with your plans to bring your Daddys ashes to India. (((BIG HUGS))).

I haven't been in such a situation Chai so as I write this know that I write it with such gentleness because I really cannot properly understand the stress and hurt of this all.

While I understand this friend M has been so very close to you and to your father I do think that as his only daughter you have the rights to his ashes. I know you wanted to go to India with M but for me looking in from the outside, it sounds like a risk. A risk in terms of any potential additional stress or heartache this may bring for you on your journey. I have no clue what it is like to have someone ashes, my Daddy is buried but I would hesitate a guess that it is just as sacred and special an action to spread someone's ashes as it is to bury them. So, my concern would be that this special trip and whatever exact plans you have in India could become tarnished if this M person did have any sort of episode and did run into any problems in India. Again I can only guess that you would want all of it to go "smoothly" for want of a better word, you want to remember this special time, this special action and I would hate for anything to take that from you.

Whether this trip would be painful or somewhat comforting following your Dad's wishes, the main thing is that it is about your Dad, you and any close people who want to be involved. It just does sound like you may encounter additional stress while trying to honour your Dad.

I do understand M was extremely close to you father by the sounds of it but at the end of the day you were his daughter and nobody should ever make you feel like their relationship with your Dad was superior to yours because to your Daddy I'm sure you were his absolute number 1 because you were his only precious child.

If you are getting messages from several people indicating there could be any bit of trouble at all on this trip then I think it is safest to go without M to ensure that this trip is memorable for the right reasons because it is all about your Daddy and nothing should take from that.

well, keep us updated Chai, it's awful for you to be going through this, I am so so sorry for it, the loss of your dear Daddy is more than enough to deal with, all these things should not cause additional hurt.

sending so much love and hugs right your way



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I was wondering,being next of kin...does that give you legal rights to our dad's ashes?I'm having trouble getting my dad's ashes from his so called girlfriend when they were mine from the beginning.Nobody even wanted them,and she said she was holding on to them for me,and now refuses to hand them over because she wants to split them for her kids(my brother and sister who are 1 and 8).I want ALL of his ashes,and dont feel the need to split them with children that are younger then my own.Chai,I too freaked out about not being in control of his ashes.Its awful and mean.When I went to see the medium she told me my dad said not to worry about his ashes,because that wasnt him.It helped for a bit,but now that we are talking about it I'm upset again.How could someone keep that from us?It almost sends me into a panic.and how can she compare her relationship with him to yours?How very thoughtless.

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Hi Chai. My opinion, since you asked, is straightforward. You are your father's daughter, not M. That entitles you to make the decision about what to do with your father's ashes. Consider who gets legal authority to handle remains in the USA or most anywhere else. It's biological family that makes the decisions, not family friends. Yes your father asked M to carry his ashes back to India. That, unfortunately, gives M reason to think she has a role in the decision making process. Yes M was a caregiver to your father. For that she deserves gratitude and a place in your heart. But that does grant her any authority over your father's remains. It might have been a mistake to have her be the keeper or custodian of these ashes in the first place; it only seems to have self-inflated her role in this business. It is also troubling that she stormed off when you and your sister went to speak to her. I think M is completely out of line in being demonstrative, insistent, and demanding in this business, and I think she needs to be put back firmly in her place. This is the most difficult thing; how do we handle a family friend who is slightly crazy and very meddlesome? You need to assert yourself firmly, but with a gentle heart. Much easier said than done.

As regards to your poll, my answer doesn't fit any one check box. I would not make up to M, as that would reinforce her own ideas that she is a decision maker in this matter. I would be firm in making M give the ashes over. Once you've got the ashes, I would be kind to M, but also keep a polite distance. I would make travel plans to India independently and without M. If she travels to India on her own for the ceremony, it would be hard to turn her away. I'd want to be sure that she has 'handlers', by which I mean family or friends that can take her in hand if she publicly flips out. I would not disturb the guru, either.

Please understand, that my opinion on this matter is like a puff of smoke in the wind. It's not very substantial. This is your decision, not ours. If talking about it here helps, I am glad for that.

Ron B.

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Hello Chai!!

Good to hear from you. From your story I can see you are in the middle of so much drama, and the way I see it, it shouldn't be that way.

I understand all the time and dedication that M gave to your father, but I think at this point she is making statements about her relationship with your father that are out of line. Yes, she may have the best of intentions, but unfortunately she seems a bit unstable. If she flips out it is going to cause a lot of unnecessary stress.

I once had a boss who was bipolar and believe me, they flip out in the blink of an eye. Whether it is true she may mean well, I also see that she is making statements that may be a bit manipulative, and that is simply not right. She should respect the fact that you are your father's daughter. Plus, I am sure your father would understand that on the given circumstances it is not the safest thing for her to handle the ashes.

If this woman becomes angry or bitter about your decision, just let her cool off on her own, you do not need to make up to her. I don't think you are doing anything wrong.

Remember, her relationship with your father may well have been important but that does not entitle her to tell you that yours is not, if that is the way things are going now, can you imagine what it would be like in India?

The logical response to this would be for her to hand the ashes over to you, given that it is not recommended for her to go.

About the bond and friendship you established with her, if she is a good friend, she also will understand that because of her inability to travel to that region, and because she is your friend, and because you are your father's daughter, it is only right that you handle the ashes.

I hope I didn't sound terribly straightforward but the fact that she said her relationship is superior to yours with your father, irritated me.

All in all, you know what is best and you will make the decision that feels right for you. Let us know how it goes, and don't let things stress you out that much. I am sure your father wants you to be ok, not to feel upside down for a situation like this.

Hugs to you :)


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Don't go, and get a legal letter to return the ashes. Don't pay her way and back off. I say legal to let her know they don't belong to her. Start rhat paperwork immediately. Contact the guru and ask the truth. Don't pay her way and maybe this will stop the problem for now. Thank her for the care she provided but she is not the daughter and unless you heard it from his mouth..why would she take the ashes and not fa,ily. She supplanted the family for a motive..free trip..?? Don't be used by this woman. No matter what she did to help your dad. It'll just ruin the rest of his memory to allow it to happen. LindaKay

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  • 1 month later...

Dear friends,

Thank you all so much for your wonderful advice and words...I do not feel at all like any of you were too straightforward or anything like that. I appreciate your anger on my behalf. I think you make intelligent arguments and also emotionally sound arguments.

This entire thing, I have realized, is also difficult for me not only because it's my father's ashes here, but also because I'm one of those people pleaser types. I like everyone to be happy. So when I've got two different groups saying different things like this, it makes me very distressed.

I have thought about this for a long time...but I decided not to take legal action. It was just too much for me. I felt like it would mar my memory of bringing these ashes to India, to have this woman's anger towards me, when she has a condition she can't control, and when she helped my father so much. I am trying to go about this from the heart, and taking legal action due to anger did not feel like the right course for me. Nor did it feel like something my father would approve of.

I have gotten information on the guru, who is actually just of September, sick with colon cancer. M has gotten permission to return to India, and unfortunately I know this will distress many, but there is just nothing I can or want to do at this point to prevent her. My priority here is the ashes, and worrying about what M will or will not do is not my business.

Also, my mother spoke with M, and M agreed to give me the ashes at the airport. So I will have them in my possession. M will attend the ashes ceremonies, and that is it. This way, I am reassured that if M were to have problems in India, it would not put the ashes at risk. I am hoping of course, that she will not have any problems; and there is still the niggling thought, "What if she comes to me in her troubles, or disturbs the ashes ceremonies?" But I think her respect and love for my father would not allow her to.

Someone asked me what helps me to breathe easier. I thought about it, and realized that, I'm okay with this. I will have possession of the ashes, and M will still feel like she is doing what my father requested of her, by being present at the ashes ceremonies. I feel like my repeated attempts to make everyone happy and to be in control were what were driving me mad. Once I decided that I was tired of anger and accepted that God is in control, I breathed easier. And I still am. I am feeling peaceful about this trip.

This does not mean I'm going to be buddy buddy with M. I think once this is over, I'm not going to go out of my way to keep in touch. She did a wonderful thing for my father and grandmother, but I think she needs some help and unfortunately I cannot help. And honestly, my faith is another factor in this decision. I did not feel like trying to control her going to India - where our faith's holy places are - was my right, because that went beyond the ashes, which is my only business. I do feel sorry that she has troubles, with her health and her family, but there is nothing more I can do. I can only go this far.

I think also that my father would like it to be this way. Had I taken legal action, I do not think that is something that would please him, and really this is for him and about him. My anger might have had me rush in and get that paperwork done, but...it didn't feel right. I want this to be about love for my father, and having it like this, feels like it would get his stamp of approval.

I hope that, even though you all vehemently voted in one direction, and I have decided in the other, that I can take your good wishes with me. Please think of me during the month of November, and may your goodwishes and Godspeed surround the ashes ceremonies with even more love and closure and peace and holiness.

take care,


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hi Chai,

I second what Em says, it doesn't matter what we think and I am glad to know that you've come to a decision that makes you comfortable. You absolutely have my best wishes and I hope the trip will go "well" for you, it's a sacred treasured time doing this and you will be in my thoughts. Have a safe trip and do let us know how it goes.

Hopefully your Daddy is right there with you every step of the way,



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  • 4 months later...

Dear friends,

It has been a couple months now, no a few since I scattered my father's and grandmother's ashes. It went well. in fact, I can say with all honesty that it was wonderful. We had two beautiful ceremonies. They were solemn, while also being peaceful. It felt very good to be able to do that for them. Especially my dad. I scattered their ashes in holy rivers, and indeed to go in those holy waters, I felt like I was purified. Like I had been wiped of heaviness.

I was able to watch the ashes sink away...and not feel loss, but feel like, here's for you, dad, grandma. I love you. And having the ceremonial aspect of it present made it feel very sacred and potent. It was definitely not an empty gesture.

Now that it is done, I do find that I feel less guilt about various could have should have things. It still creeps up on me sometimes, but much less.

Present at the first ceremony was M and my mother, and of course the priest doing the ceremony and myself. Present at the second was me, the priest, and an old friend of my father's.

One mishap was that for one ceremony, I was unable to find M. I searched all over for her, for hours, at her place of lodging, and could not find her. She does not have a phone and it was India, so...what could I do? I could not make the priest wait. I felt awful for not being able to find her, and I had a feeling it would upset her...but I was afraid that if I waited the ceremony would not take place. I wanted this specific priest, and he was very busy...he had no other free time to spare.

Later I told M about the ceremony, and all she said was, "okay." Then she sent me an email on how very upset she was...and I felt horrible. I tried to explain to her the circumstances, and she said she forgave me...but I still feel like, in her heart, she probably never will. There is nothing I can do about this. It lies on me heavily; I have barely contacted her since we came back from India. She said that she went to India to scatter my dad's ashes as he requested, and I know this to be true...at the same time, we also went there to see our guru and visit holy places. And our guru had cancer at the time. So...I don't know. Fate did not want her to be there at the second ceremony. I tried my best.

*sigh* I wish it had all gone down absolutely perfect with no one getting upset...but ah well. The scattering of the ashes, which was the most important part, was amazing and perfect. Just to think of it makes me happy.

Thank you all so much for your support. ((((Hugs))))!

take care,


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