cremation & scatter of remains

toobadsmomJanuary 6, 2009

My son died ten years ago. His body was creamated because that is always what he said he would want. His younger brother says he and his brother promised long ago that if one died before the other that the survivor would scatter the ashes of the deceased in the river. I as mother of both sons have not been able to comply with this 'scatter' wish. I can't just throw my darling son in the river. The other son is still grieving deeply over this. He barely speaks to me and will not come out to visit. His wife now says he is still having nightmares and wakes up crying because he feels he has not kept his promise to his brother. I on the other hand feel just as despondent, if not more so, and want to keep the remains here at my home where they are in a special made wooden container made especially for this purpose and shipped here from Pakistan. I don't think I can let the brother scatter the ashes. Has anyone ever done this with a loved one--most especially a child? Can it be overcome.

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My son just died in September 2008. We had his body cremated and presently his remains are at our home. At first, we talked about scattering his ashes on the ocean, then his sisters, girlfriend, and a few grandchilden each wanted a little bit of his ashes to keep.

After much heart-wrenching discussions, my husband and I decided that we just wanted our son to stay with us in our home. When we both die, we would like to have all of our ashes scattered together over the ocean.

We plan to put this in writing in our wills.

I totally agree with you, and your son should understand and respect your feelings.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 9:37AM
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Toobads, it sounds as if you don't believe that your two sons had this discussion together? If you don't believe your son would lie to you, then he would have no reason to tell you they promised each other this. Its pretty common for people that want to be creamated to say, I want my ashes spread here, or there etc. Personally, I want my ashes spread in the carribian, followed by a diet coke :) Sounds silly, but thats how I want it done. Let your son follow thru on his promise. Make a ceremony out of it so you all can grieve properly. You've already lost one son, you don't want to lose another one because of something like this.

I don't agree with Katy about your son understanding and respecting your feelings. He has those same wishes and feelings and they are just as important to him. You are all grieving.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 2:19PM
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Linda, you make a good point about the surviving son having the same wishes and feelings. I'm looking at it from a mother's point of view, and I'm just thinking how difficult it would be to give up my son's ashes right now.

It's a hard decision to make. Toobads, I hope you can do the right thing by both sons.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 2:37PM
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How about scattering some and keeping some? I've heard of people doing that. Each child got a portion of the ashes to scatter in some meaningful place. I'm sorry if this sound unappealing.

I'm also sorry you and your son are having trouble. My heart aches for your both. Honestly, I think you should scatter the ashes, in agreement with Linda who posted above. Do you have a minister or priest you could speak with about this?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 6:16PM
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I had the same thought as socks. Remember, those ashes are only a reminder of your son, as is a body buried in the ground. Your son's spirit lives! His soul and personality remain, and I would bet dollars to donuts he is not happy with this estrangement between you and your other son. Especially over his ashes. He wants you to be happy and will welcome you both into heaven when it is your time. Why not get a locket of some type and put some ashes in the locket and wear that around your neck. That way you will have a reminder with you often. And let your other son fulfill the promise he made to his brother. Let us know what you ultimately decide.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Toobadsmom, I am so sorry for your loss. I do understand much of what you are feeling. My 30yr old son died almost four years ago and was cremated. His wife gave me a tiny urn with some of his ashes which I still keep in the pillow I sleep with at night. She keeps the rest of them at her home until my grandson is old enough to decide what he would like to do with them (he is 11 now). When he makes a decision, then I plan to add those I have so they can all be together. When my time comes, I will go to the same place. My second son is going to be building his own home this year and has already planted an oak tree on the block. Beside this tree we are going to make a little place for Glenn's ashes which I have but in such a way that we can retrieve them if they move from this home. I have agreed to this because it is what Brendan wants and I will do whatever I can to ease his pain a little. It is such a shame that you are being pressured in a way to do something you do not wish to do but perhaps your living son needs to do what his brother wished for his peace of mind and for the good of your relationship. Our living boys have suffered so much and I am sure our boys who have gone ahead don't want to be the cause of more heartache. Would it be possible to divide the ashes, honour your son's wishes (if you have no reason to doubt your other son's words) and have the remaining ones mixed with yours and released to the river when the time comes. You have to make the final decision and no-one can force you to do anything you don't want to do but remember you could perhaps be healing and freeing both of the boys you have loved and nurtured. Your son is in your heart and nothing can change that. (((Toobadsmom))). Elspeth

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 2:25AM
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I know that if I made a promise to someone I would have to keep it. If it was me and the ashes are important to you and to him, I would split them. Your son is not the ashes, you still have your son in your heart. Remember you son in life not in death.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:16PM
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My Dad died December 2, 2010. Everyone knew he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes released into the ocean- he LOVED to fish. He and my step-mother fought about this often. He didn't have a will, but she agreed to let him be cremated. She only asked to keep his ashes through the holidays. My brother, step-brothers and sister hoped we could release his ashes on his birthday in February. Unfortunately, the step mom said not yet. I have become SO angry and frustrated that my Dad's ashes are sitting on her mantle like one of the clowns she collects! I feel this is very disrespectfull to a man that rarely though about his needs, but always put everyone elses needs first. I shared my frustrations with my brother, but he thinks i'm trying to be controlling, or cause drama; what's wrong with waiting, he says. This was my Dad's final wishes, he never asked anyone for much, she has ashes in a locket; my brother is painting her a portrait of them using some of his ashes; and she doen't like being around the ashes. So I can't understand why he sits there? I can't get past it enough to associate with them down there because i might say something wrong. Is this normal, what is the proper amount of time to carry out someone's final wishes? Should I say something?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 9:11PM
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I have to say that I agree with many. You should honor both of your sons by letting some of the ashes be scattered where he wanted. You don't have to let them all go but I do think in all fairness you should part with some. The thing about death is that it's the ones left behind that have the hard decisions to make. There are so many ways that many in a family can share in honoring a loved one and holding onto the ashes. Tough decision to make as a mom but a necessary one.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:54AM
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katyrose, oftentimes, a will is not probated or even looked at until well after the funeral. to ensure that your wishes are followed, you need to put your funeral arrangements in writing in a separate document. copies of this document can be left where you know they will be found (i.e., your file at your doctor's office, left with 2 or 3 trusted friends or family members or heck, even on the side of your fridge with a magnet). this way, those who will plan your final memorial services will know exactly what you want.

if you have a living will (the document that indicates you do not want extraordinary measures taken to keep you alive), your funeral wishes can be kept with that. that is where i have mine along with a power of attorney that gives my son authority over me should i be unable to make decisions myself.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 7:16AM
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My Dad passed in 1998, Mom in 2011 and my brother in December 2012, just a month ago. All three were cremated. Their ashes are with my sister. We're still considering what to do with the ashes. My opinion is, we should wait till it warms up, then bury all three in our backyard somewhere where they won't be disturbed, like under a tree. The house is currently empty and will be put up for sale soon.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Well, if you bury them on a property where you're not staying, you really don't know if someday someone else will find them, even if you bury them under twelve feet of concrete. Who knows what will happen? The new owners may want a pool. Eventually the tree may fall down. You can't control it.
I would take the ashes and release them at sea, or in a river, or a lake. They will become part of the whole world and so will always be with you. My parents' ashes were scattered at their favourite beach, per their wishes.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Re-thinking the burial,idea. My Dad died first, Mom specifically asked to be cremated and have their ashes scattered on a lake where they had vacationed many times. I'll remind my sisters about this.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:59AM
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