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Cremated ashes

Posted by maifleur 5b-6 MO (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 2, 09 at 19:32

In the Walmart coffin thread someone brought up having their ashes sprinkled in their flower bed. I am wondering does anyone have someones ashes sprinkled in your gardening beds or yard? If so the first time you gardened after the sprinkling did you have any quams about sticking your hands in the ashes?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cremated ashes

I suppose if there were sharp bone fragments mixed in I might.

I think it is preferable to scatter ashes in a more permanent setting, though, such as a garden on church property. Even that is not totally safe, though, because one church I attended was later sold to a bank.

:o/


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In part my old roomate David's ashes were sprinkled through a garden he worked in up on the Hudson. Many of the people in attendance were asked if the wanted to participate. We used a small trowel. I had a small amount of his ashes in a pill box and I placed them under my Pat Austin. If there were an orgaization that would do it you could compost me.


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I don't know how to answer the question. I have never cremated ashes.

:)


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No qualms for me. I have the cremated ashes of a pet and we just scattered my brother's cremated ashes in Florida. They look exactly the same....somewhat like the clay type of kitty litter. I had no problem with wanting to touch my brother one more time and let his ashes sift through my fingers. There were no sharp edges.


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I have the ashes of my last dog, we want to move and when we do she is going to go in my garden. I think I will be planting her under a tree though so Her ashes would not really be disturbed by me again.


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I haven't sprinkled the remains of anyone in my garden but I have no qualms about touching dead bodies or their ashes.

When DH's father died when they he and his brother were quite young his wish was to have his ashes scattered over the ocean. For some reason it was never done and his remains were kept in a niche at the cemetery. When DH was an adult every time the subject came up his brother would throw a fit and his mother would give in. Right after she died (her wishes were Neptune Society handle everything) we got the ashes of her DH and gave him the final rest he desired. Brother threw a fit but oh well........

Now I have two book style urns sitting around. One is still a little "dusty" inside from when it was emptied the other brand new. I've though of putting a couple of my dogs remains together in the used one. If I do I'll just wash it out outdoors. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Funny related story. When DMIL died and DH went to retrieve his father's ashes he came home and put them in the dining room in their plain brown wrappers. DS came home from school and asked what the packages were. I told them they were grandpa's ashes. "Grandpa died?! Why didn't you tell me?!!!" It didn't occur to him there was another grandpa he's never met. LOL


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 2, 09 at 21:54

Well... I don't suppose I would care what happened to my ashes... I won't be needing them.

And as far as touching the ashes of a cremated animal or person... they are ashes, for the most part, and once tilled into the soil, they would quickly dissipate and become part of the earth, I would think. I wear gloves when gardening, so I doubt it would bother me.

I've touched much grosser things in my life... ashes are rather benign by comparison.

I suppose you could always bury the urn or whatever container the ashes are in, instead of spreading them... but then, the cycle would not be completed. They would not be used by the roses as fertilizer.


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People who work in the big public gardens around cities will tell you that they are always finding ashes scattered about. Not a big deal. Good for the soil.

Hay


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We did have one park ask people to stop scattering ashes during a dry spell because there were so many the people on the paths were kicking up a cloud of dust that turned out to be peoples ashes.

So far when our pets have died I have buried them but have been thinking about cremation. I plant plants over the buried ones but when I think about sticking my hands in the dirt to garden I get squimish. I have no problems touching any thing that has died or scattering the ashes just touching them after they have been scattered.

I can see a cartoon showing a overgrown patch of plants with the caption "you can't dig there >>>"s ashes were put there. And as they walk away one says to the other "I always knew that >>> was full of it.


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I told DH if I went first to put my ashes under a newly planted tree. DS knows my wishes as well.

When my Mother died, my Sister and I did what she always wanted and had her cremated. She was an artist and had many artist friends who were quite accomplished in stoneware and raku. They all made tiny little stoneware or raku urns, each a reflection of their particular style, that were filled with her ashes and given to all of her friends. My little bit of her is in a tiny raku pot she made for me many years ago.


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The ashes of a deceased cat are in my garden at the request of my husband. Touching the ashes didn't bother me. Having to wait until the ground thawed to bury the ashes bothered me greatly. It effectively pressed the reset button on the process of grieving for someone I loved dearly. I can't imagine feeling any differently about human ashes, since I don't make that many distinctions between humans and other mammals.

What gives me the creeps is the whole business of embalming, painting and dressing a corpse in street clothes (If we want to pretend they're resting, why don't we put them in their jammies?) and burying it. Or worse yet, putting it in a mausoleum.


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What gives me the creeps is the whole business of embalming, painting and dressing a corpse in street clothes (If we want to pretend they're resting, why don't we put them in their jammies?) and burying it. Or worse yet, putting it in a mausoleum.

I agree completely. Creeped me out since I was a kid. The jammie statement made me LOL.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 3, 09 at 10:50

Some of the customs associated with death are pretty creepy, I'll agree.

I've always hated attending wakes and funerals... and I never want my last memory of a loved one to be the dressed and made-up corpse, that never really looks like that person did in life, anyway. I prefer memories of better times.

My deceased pets are either buried or cremated. We've had many funeral pyres over the years... in fact, we recently put down and cremated one of our Olde's. She was elderly and on the downhill run, and she'd lived a very good life. We owed it her to end her pain and give her a good send-off.


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An Aunt of DH who was a widow, made sure no one would be making decisions for her after she died. Not only did she chose the site of her grave, she chose the tombstone and what it said, the casket, the flowers for the top of the casket, who spoke the service and where it was to be held. She also went shopping and found a comfy pink nightgown to be used when she died. Even the lining of the casket resembled a luxurious blanket. Every single detail went smoothly. She also had her DH's coffin moved so they could be together.
Since many cemeteries are stacking graves now,(doesn't that sound strange?)I'm going for cremation with the remains placed in DD's grave. We didn't have her long, but I can be close at least even if we don't get to have a life after death. Wouldn't it be a kick if there is another existence after death?
Cemetery burials and Cremations have been in the news a lot recently. I suppose our profligate use of land for burial of one body per grave is rather unusual when you look at the customs of other countries. I have always found the catacombs and similar sites a bit too gruesome for my taste but what can you do with the remains of literally millions of people. London has been a city in existence for two thousand years. How many bodies must have been in need of disposal over 20 centuries.
I would much rather be fertilizer as the green burials are supposed to be but the available land is still shrinking. It is something to think about. Sleepless

Here is a link that might be useful: Cremation


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  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 3, 09 at 16:53

It is impossible for me to do this after seeing the Big Lebowski multiple times.


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Hey dicot, stay a while. Being inhaled by my buddies as dust after being released from a coffee can would be a way to go wouldn't it?


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I see they call them cremains now instead of ashes, don't care what happens to mine when I'm outta here.


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I looked at that Neptune site that wildchild mentioned...that's both nice and affordable. I wish they had something like that near where I am. I can still become part of a reefball too--it's all nice, but in the event of anything happening to cause my demise Hubs knows to just sprinkle me into the compost heap.


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My plan is to be cremated and have my ashes compressed into a diamond for DH to wear around his neck so he will never be free of me. Or make him get his ear pierced and make him wear the diamond so he will always have me "in his ear".

So far he hasn't been very receptive to either plan.


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"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" isn't in the Bible but I still think some religious people down through the ages from the ancient Egyptians to present day Christians believe that it is easier for God to put us back together again if we are buried whole rather than cremated.
It's all an extension of our instinctual fear of death, the same fear that contributes to the belief in eternal life for Christians.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 4, 09 at 11:42

I contend that if god wanted to reuse our bodies at some point, they wouldn't decompose post-death. I think our spirits, our energy, may go on to something else... but these bodies are shells with a one-time-use only.

I don't understand the huge fear of death... it's inevitable... we have to die... it cannot be stopped. So, why fear it?


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Sorry if my etiquette is bad - digging up an old thread (heh) for a first post.

My father just died after a pretty long illness. He told his partner that he wanted her to drag him into the woods behind the house when he died. To be munched at by the animals, and decompose naturally. She mentioned that she thought it wasn't allowed. And he suggested that she needn't tell anyone - lol.

Needless to say, this wasn't very practical. So, he's being cremated.

I was thinking the best way to honor his wishes would be to add some of his ashes to my compost. That way, next spring I can use the compost for flowers and vegetables, and feed the animals (including some humans) indirectly.

We're having a party for him next summer, and to possibly have some 'Dad' salad (tomatoes, basil, peppers (I'm a beginner gardener)) for those who choose, would be wonderful. Something his friends would get a kick out of.

The funeral parlor director said ashes were fine to add to compost - public health-wise - obviously. My question is about the health of the compost....

Long winded way of asking - does anyone know the effect of ash on compost? Like, is it a good soil amendment? Too acid? Too alkaline? Or, should I just add a smaller amount that wouldn't be able to upset the compost's balance?

I'm pretty sure I'll be sharing the ashes with other family members, so it's not like I'll have a ton anyway. But my pile is a pretty small, apartment kitchen scraps mostly.

Thanks for any advice!

Love you Dad!


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I know a rose garden once had a problem with this as people were sprinkling ashes around roses that had special name meanings for their loved one. They had to remove the cremains because it was said the level of phosphate was too high.


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Don't plan on dying so the question is moot..


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 21, 10 at 7:24

Welcome to the forum, mcficus. I wouldn't think you'd run into any problems, unless all the ashes were dumped under one plant. Perhaps spreading them out a bit would be the best way.

My sympathies... as difficult as it is to lose someone loved, it's a very natural part of life. I commend you on your very solid, straightforward handling of the issue.

Not all folks would agree with your proposals... but I think a party celebrating the life of the person is a good way to remember them, as opposed to mourning their death.

The whole funeral thing is for the benefit of the living, and does more to assuage their feelings than to actual memorialize the person who passed.

Party on.


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"Dad Salad"... I love it! What a great way to come full circle. Pass the tomatoes please!


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 21, 10 at 13:16

I've been hesitant to mention it in the past, but my husband has always said he wants to be cremated and fed to his dogs, whom he has spent so much of his life working with, genetically speaking. Another way to complete the circle of life...


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Thanks guys! I was pretty sure a little sprinkling of ashes wouldn't hurt anything, but I just wanted to be sure.

jodik - can you feed dogs ashes? I mean, I know there's mineral 'ash' in dog food - so maybe a bit of real ashes would be okay? If it is, and that's his wish - I think it's a cool idea. Reminds me of something spiritual like the Holy Communion, or the book Stranger in a Strange Land.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 21, 10 at 19:20

I don't see why not... if left to their own devices, dogs eat garbage, among other disgusting things... and bones are a favorite, so... no harm that I can see.

I'd make certain the animals had access to plenty of fresh water... but it wouldn't be like they'd each get a whole lot of ash... it would be mixed in their food, and divided up between a kennel full of dogs.


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Sorry - I just got done having a bawl / snot-schnuffle over my dad.

The part above, about pups eating the ashes / body (and the part about Eucharist I mentioned) made me want to quote the bible (totally not a Christian, just appreciate some parts) - at the last supper, when Jesus is breaking the bread, and says:

"This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

Circle of life indeed.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 22, 10 at 11:31

I'm not religious, either... not anymore... but I do appreciate the perfect circle that life is. As one thing ages and dies, so another thing benefits from that death, and other things are born of it.

Our bodies are no different than the bodies of animals, insects, plants... everything dies and nourishes the living generation, and so goes the circle of life.

It's the memories we hold that keep the last generation alive. My parents are both gone from this world, but I hold so many awesome memories... and I take them out every once in a while, dust them off, replay them in my mind... and I smile, or laugh, or cry... they helped shape who I am today, and I passed a lot of what they taught to my own children... and they're teaching theirs. The circle of life, indeed...


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MCficus, I am sorry for the loss of your father.

We used to say things like that in my family--put me in the garden, back to nature," etc. I watched a movie last week with Jessica Lange titled BUICK where the running joke was the widow was suppose to take her husband's ashes to his daughter and drove from Idaho to California, but instead she and her Thelma and Louise type friends had an adventure and scattered the ashes at different places along the way. The urn dropped at the funeral and it was apparent that sand and bottle caps were in the urn instead.

I'm glad there are some that can have a chuckle about family members fertilizing a garden or being in the ocean.
It's easier to talk about when you don't actually have to do it.

I go to bed every night with my husband's ashes next to me in a box. Somehow, it's not so funny and the circle of life thing just doesn't give me any comfort.

I hope you are able to honor your father's wishes as he wanted and can take comfort from that.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 22, 10 at 16:23

The only certainty in life is death. Everything living has been dying since time immemorial. Why we place such traditions around death, and cloak it in such sadness I'll never know. It should be celebrated.

No one lives forever, and it's just something we all have to come to terms with. Some people seem to have a better grip on the whole life/death thing than others.

I've felt the pain of death close to me. But it never lasts overly long because I don't allow it to. As much as it hurts me, I know it's an inevitability that I have no control over. And who's to say the dead aren't better off? Death is an end to suffering, an end to all the woes of human existence.

I might feel the loss... I might miss the person or pet... but in reality, I'm happy for them. They have achieved that one thing that we can only guess at.


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You might want to look into this. It is against the law to sprinkle ashes around willy nilly. I am guessing brighter minds than displayed here think there is a health issue.


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I don't believe in a Supreme Being and therefore I also don't believe in a hereafter for any life forms on earth. Although I wish I did - that could be a comfort if in fact there is something positive continuing , for our spirit once our body dies. But really, I don't believe that, no matter how nice I think it would be, both for the living and the person who has deceased.

I would not spread ashes in a area I grew veggies, but that is because nobody perhaps has any real facts on if the nutrients would be of any use or perhaps, if the ashes of mammals, when broken down into the soil could actually be harmful for consumption (although I doubt it), but for me it would be a matter of aesthetics. I don't want to be put in a veggie garden, nor do I want knowingly want to consume veggies a family member has provided fertilizer for. Just personal aesthetics on my part.

What it is we do with our dead is for the comfort and well being of the living, the dead (even if they end up in the afterlife they believe in) don't care.

That said, I have a real issue with the cost to deal with the remains of our loved ones. Oftentimes that is the most money personally that is ever spent on that person and I find that to be so sad. Just so sad.

And I have an issue withe the funeral industry, I've dealt with them three times and three times it was a smarmy, grubbing, grasping experience where pressure was applied to provide the most 'respectful goodbye to the memory of the loved one' which of course was one of their most expensive plans.

That just flew all over me, but at the time I just couldn't deal with them. At the they have you because of your emotional state during the process especially if it's an unexpected death, it's very hard to think with clarity or especially, unemotionally.

I would advise you to bring along a person who is not so emotionally entangled, someone you trust with instructions to keep the funeral home on the more honest and disclosing side of the sales push. Because make no mistake about it, they are in the business of sales and the bigger the sale the better for the salesperson. It is a business and in business to make the greatest profits possible.

Even if the deceased has made all the plans ahead of time with the funeral home, they did try to "upgrade" with me (we no longer have that casket available, the very one that had been picked out three months earlier by the deceased family member, only a much more expensive one is the closest to what your loved one chose)

Pretty much the same smarmy experience from funeral homes in different parts of the country.

The last two times I had to do the planning, I picked somebody who didn't care what kind of impression they would leave behind. It was a comfort to know my back was had, because somebody needed to have it against those funeral salespeople, frankly. I told them ahead of time what the insurance limits were of the family and they saw to it that the salesperson stuck to to those limits and showed us all the options.

My husband and I love to take our small, self contained and comfortable camper and go into various natl. forests, away from civilization. It's almost a spiritual experience for me.

We have decided that we want to be cremated, ashes in a biodegradable cardboard box (available, must ask in some certain circumstances, sadly because they are the cheapest option) and then simply buried, box and all, about as deeply as I would a rose bush.

Any place in the natl forest he wishes to place my ashes, or me, his - It will be a respectful treatment of our ashes and will be nice for the survivor to know that this is the last place our body resided on this earth.

However I also told him that if, for any reason, he just can't manage that, bury the box in the back yard, in one of the flower garden beds because that soil has been well worked and the digging would be extremely easy.

If he likes, he can have a gathering here at the house which he probably would -for my friends and family to gather, my only request is that he spend not one dime on any funeral expenses that isn't mandated by law.

We pay every penny of our taxes, we follow all laws, but if he has to get permits etc. to bury that biodegradable box in the back yard if that is what he chooses to do, break the law. Only the dead really inherit the earth.

No formal funeral home viewing, casket used wake, none of that. Just straight from the hospital bed to the creamatorium fires to the forest/garden bed with no pauses inbetween for formal ceremony of any kind involving my dead body or cash exchanged for servives of that sort.

I'd much rather him spend that "funeral" money awhile later doing something that he will enjoy - now THAT would be what I'd consider honoring and respecting my memory.

I completely understand that this would be a terrible plan for many, if not most, though. We all handle our own death and the deaths of our loved ones differently and whatever it takes to make the process as honorable and respectful to all concerned, good enough - to each his own.


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Oh!! Demi.... (((((((((((((((((Demi)))))))))))))))))

We have my father in law on the dresser. And mother in law in the garden.

Arcy, I don't know what to say to you. So I'm going to bite my tongue.

Mylab, I agree wholeheartedly.

And I would eat tomatoes with reverance from your garden MCFicus. Anyday. No qualms. What a beautiful, beautiful reminder of life. My grandmother wanted to be in the garden. So we planted her there. And I am so proud that we were able to agree enough that she got her wish.

~ you want to think creepy? My father in law is on our dresser, with a photo and all, in my bedroom. Sometimes I talk to him. Sometimes I really pretend he isn't there. Either way I'm laughing till I'm crying or crying till I'm laughing...


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I figured Arcy's response pretty much speaks for itself, as it always tends to do when that person responds to posts here.

Demi, I was thinking of you through this thread, peace to you.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 23, 10 at 6:08

What sort of a health issue does anyone imagine might be included in disposing of human ashes on private property? You think landfills are probably safer?

Anyone honoring the request of a dead individual is most likely not going to delve into the legalities involved. They're most likely going to try their hardest to honor the request, regardless of the legalities. Rules were made to be severely bent in some cases...


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"What sort of a health issue does anyone imagine might be included in disposing of human ashes on private property? "

About the only one I can think of is Prions; they're still infective even after being reduced to ash.


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Given the number of obits I read where "The ashes were scattered as per his/her wishes" one gets the idea that laws regarding this are routinely flouted.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 23, 10 at 11:55

I suppose it wouldn't be prudent to consume just anyone's ashes... but if you knew the fellow...

People routinely scatter ashes of loved ones when no one is looking... the details in last requests of this kind are usually easily figured out. I don't believe I've ever heard anyone complain about where someone scattered ashes.


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I don't know why, but I wouldn't want to touch the ashes of someone.
I used to say I wanted to be cremated and my ashes thrown all over Burt Reynolds. But he turned into such a jerk, I have to find another resting place.....George Clooney, perhaps.


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",,,,,,,,,,George Clooney, perhaps."

That man is the epitome of male physical perfection, to me, perfection in a tux!


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ah yes... another Clooney admirer here! (Brad Pitt, while aesthetically pleasing, does not have 1/2 the appeal)


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  • Posted by mwheel East. WV-Z.6 (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 23, 10 at 14:32

This discussion has been very interesting and helpful to me. DH and I agree we want to be cremated and that the least amount possible be spent on doing it. The idea of the biodegradable, cardboard box for the cremains is appealing, definitely something I will learn about.

mcficus, if I read it correctly, the day you first posted --9/20--is also your birthday. You didn't say exactly when your Dad passed, but your birthdays will be bittersweet for a few years. Fortunately, the passage of time will help.

BTW, belated Happy Birthday.


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Yeah! Cardboard box coffins are awesome. Especially if everyone gets to help decorate it before they put the loved one inside. One last party box!


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Thank you Silversword and Mylab.

This is a topic that was easy to banter about before it became a reality with the closest person in the world to me, and a premature and unexpected reality at that. It is of course a part of life, it's just difficult to be as cavalier about it after the fact, like watching resuscitation scenes on television now make me sick.

It doesn't matter much to me in the end, I suppose I'll be buried in the family cemetery. Part of DH will be with me, over my heart.

Cremation is increasingly more popular, I imagine because people don't want to spend the exorbitant prices on caskets or just don't have the money.

I like the idea of a green burial.
I also know several people who have left their bodies to science.


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Demi, I have a hard time with televised scenes as well. I've had one too many difficult experiences with people on the verge of death or dying.

I'm truly sorry, as I know the scenes can haunt in ways others cannot imagine unless they were there.

I like the idea of a green burial too.


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Demi, I was 22 when my father died unexpectedly and for a couple of years, I had a very hard time with death humor. It seemed I was surrounded by it (comedians, movies, simple jokes in discussions) and I had to continually remind myself that it was my grief that made me so sensitive to it and notice it and be offended by it in a way I never had before. I did realize that before his death, I would have laughed, and did probably realize that one day I would again.

I wasn't affected like that at all when my mother died when I was in my late 30's, it was a long and particularly brutal cancer battle and the end was a blessing. Within a week we were breaking up her home (four generations of treasures in that home, southern people keep everything with a story that is attached and handed down) because her children were in from long distances, it had to be done right away.

There was a lot of laughter and joking about the process between the tears during that time and my husband was very surprised, the difference in reaction between when my father died and when my mother died was quite remarkable. At that point he had never lost anyone close to him and really didn't understand any of the process, as he was stationed on a remote tour when my father died. However, being parentless was a terrible reality, I'm not sure why since I certainly wasn't a child anymore. But being nobody's child anymore was part of the grieving process for me.


I don't want to survive my husband. I would rather die much earlier and lose many years than suffer that phase half of us must go through in life.

I know that is terribly selfish of me and there is a lot of guilt involved in that wish, as what I am doing is preferring that he go through what it is I can't bear to think about, but there it is.

I have always felt that way and for years, I was quite sure that he would do better at being the survivor than I would but as we now are getting older, I'm not quite sure that would be be the case.

Should he die first, I will be you, I know it and fear it.

My heart goes right out to you, please know that. I can't know your pain and lonesomeness and I wish with all my heart that I never have to.

Peace to you.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 24, 10 at 5:42

The unfortunate truth is... many men pass away before women... before their wives. I fully expect to outlive my husband; that's just reality. And we're the same age. I would like to pass, ideally, at the same time... but I doubt that will happen. It's the one thing we have no control of.

A difficult bridge, but one I will have no choice but to cross. My husband would prefer a celebration, and not a sad funeral. So it shall be done.

He's always been an extremely practical person. To him, death is just another part of life, and the living must go on. He wouldn't want me to break down and mourn his loss. He would want me to move forward. He would expect it.

I've come to rely on him so heavily that I'll be lost without his presence. Our children will be there, of course, but I think they might need a show of strength more than I. We're a very close family, and though their mother walked out, their father never wavered for a second. He fought for them.

His passing will mark the historical end of an era for a breed of dog, an end of a very popular man, loved and respected by many... even his rivals. Books will be written.

And life will go on... however void to a few...



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I hope none of you have to lose a spouse anytime soon--DH and I had planned to die the day we were down to our last dime. :)

The fact of the matter is, losing a spouse is something no one can understand until it happens to them. You see, this "I will go forward, I won't look in the rearview mirror, I will be strong" business is all well and good. I've been the example of strength since the moment he died--the girls and I spoke at his funeral, were the consummate hostesses during the visitation and funeral and thereafter. I've not taken any medications or even wine or anything to numb or dull the pain or even help me through the funeral or anything--all but the man in my grief group have been or still are on Xanax and such, I have never even had one.

I'm the only one that was able to even speak at our first grief group meeting and became the "mother" to all of them--arranging dinners and meetings after the six sessions--I'm the take charge, get things done buck up person.

Not one day have I pulled the covers over my head.
I've taken over every duty he had, gotten this house repaired and in good maintenance, learned about and replaced pumps and all sorts of mechanical issues, taken over all financial dealings and responsibilities--you name it, I'm capable and I do it. I do not cry in front of my grown daughters. I try not to complain about my situation because I was so very blessed for so long.

But this "moving forward" business is just a phrase people that do not and cannot understand banter about. Celine Dion has no idea about the words she sings --you can go on with life, you can try to be positive, you can have some moments of contentment and even happiness, but in my case and with many--my heart does NOT go on. It is pure emotional torture on a daily basis and it's only internal. No one else sees it, no one else would know it--except another widow or widower.

Mylab, I'm sorry you lost your father at such at early age.
My daughters were 19 and 23. It never goes away--you are right, I think we are more sensitive for awhile. I remember the first weeks and months after DH died and people were being goofy and silly on the news programs in the morning--Good Morning America, etc. I wanted to scream, it made me physically upset and mad. I think what scares us is the fragility of life and how everyone "goes on" and everyone tells you you have to "go on" that your husband or wife wouldn't want you being sad, etc.

Of course they wouldn't. Grief is not something you can decide to feel or not feel. It is what it is and everyone's grief is unique and I think should be embraced or handled as they see fit. For many of us, our experiences reflect the type of relationship we had. I have a friend who began dating within a month after her 40 something husband died. I still feel married and wear my wedding rings.

Silversword, I'm sorry too you have had experiences with death that you are reminded of like so many of us.

I will say this--despite our differences here, I believe most of us possess a generosity of spirit and compassion.
If the worst ever happened and any of you needed someone to empathize or talk with, I am here for you. I hope you all have long and happy relationships.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 24, 10 at 9:10

There is no plan for death... beyond what to do should it happen. The only way to plan is to contemplate suicide, which is not an option... or murder, also not an option. The only thing even resembling a plan would be a "do not resuscitate" order, which we both agree on. We are each not to call 911 until the certainty of death is upon the other, should something happen. Neither of us wants to be comatose or hospitalized or reliant upon machines or incapacitated in a permanent way. And the older we get, the more important that is.

We do not plan much of anything in advance. It's more important to live each day as though there is no tomorrow. Regrets aren't something we want to have. We do the best we can with each day we are given. Some are good, and some aren't... but that's part of life with disability.

Today, for example, is shaping up to be a bad one. Nothing is even penetrating the back, hip and cyatic pain, and I can barely walk, or sit for any length of time, or find a position to lay in so sleep will come. Tomorrow will be better, hopefully. The coffee is good today, though. And I notice buds on an orchid, so it's not all bad.

"Expect the worst, and you'll never be disappointed."

That's been our motto for quite a while, now. Ever since it became evident that the black cloud that found us is going to hover forever. If it weren't for bad luck, we'd have none, at all.

We joke about it, but we've had so much more than our fair share of accidental disaster. Our lives are like one big train wreck, and every time we turn around, some new accident or something we can't control is lapping at our heels. The only way to live is one day at a time. Death will simply be the final adventure.



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Demi, I don't think anything can compare to the death of a spouse or a child. I hear your words, and am humbled. I have one death that tears at my heart, a little girl who went to sleep and never woke up. Watching her parents go through their grief is shattering. There just are no words. The shock of sudden death does not wear off quickly. It takes years, if at all, for the edges to be smooth enough to even glance upon, let alone lean upon, without the slice of pain once again upon the soul.

My grandparents death was ok with me. They completed their cycle. The death of friends, although it pained me that they would stop at 2o-ish and I would keep moving through the years; when prolonged illness played a part death was welcomed. The pain was just so great at the end, that it was a blessing to have them able to let go.

But the sudden deaths. Oh! And the intimacy that is lost. The hand on the small of your back. The feeling of someone next to you without even touching. That empty space.

I know a man who lost his wife, and he once said to me that it was not the big things, but the little things, like the place where her toothbrush used to go. Those little empty spaces that used to contain the flotsom and jetsom that surround a person.

And the little deaths. The baby who was here for three months. She was not mine, but I mourned with her mother as if she were. The baby who was just lost, before birth. Oh! I can rationalize it as much as I want and it's still not rational. There is no neat box to be tied up with a bow. To file this away would be impossible.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 24, 10 at 15:31

I don't believe we are meant to know everything or to control everything, and to try is to drive oneself nuts. There are many things in life that we must simply let go of. I believe death is one of those things.

There's no rhyme or reason. There's no control to it. And so, to me, it makes so much more sense to let go of it, to celebrate it as the end of a cycle, and to move forward. My own time will come soon enough. I will not use my time here, in this life, to unsuccessfully hang onto something I have absolutely no control over.

To me, prolonging a fatal illness, or keeping a pet alive out of my own selfish needs and wants is quite beyond any compassionate bounds. But to unselfishly let go, to allow that life to slip into a peaceful state of death, much deserved... that is the measure of true unselfishness, of true compassion.

Children aren't supposed to expire before their parents, but since there is no rhyme or reason, it must be accepted. I've witnessed this, myself, and I've seen what an unwillingness to accept can do to people. The woman I know is quite unhinged. She cannot accept the shorter life cycle of her daughter.

It's one thing to miss someone, but quite another to live your life around the unacceptable. Would that person wish you to stop living? No, they would not.

I don't know exactly why some people grasp the idea of death so easily, and why others have such a difficult time with it. For myself, death is just another part of life. It's expected and inevitable. It marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.


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It's called grief and grief can't be lessened by rationalizing it away. Just because the deceased wouldnt want you to suffer and perhaps woudl be even angry if you did does not in any way affect how it is you will feel. You will feel how you feel.

Everybody deals with it differently but not one person in this world can predict how it is they will react to the loss of any very important person in their life.

Grief is funny like that - there is no real way to prepare for it and you certainly can't intellectualize it down. It is the healing process from an extreme loss and everybody heals differently and unexpectedly.


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  • Posted by jodik 5 Central IL (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 24, 10 at 19:06

That's what I just said... kind of. I guess, in plainer words, I just have what I think is a good handle on it all. It's inevitable, it creeps closer every day, and I accept that.

Grieving is natural... keeping people or pets suffering because you can't bear to let go is another thing altogether.

Grieving doesn't have to tear people apart... unless they refuse to let go... refuse to realize reality and relinquish control that they don't have, anyway.


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You don't have to act or be unhinged to be ravaged inside and never fully heal.

I have never experienced the gut-wrenching deaths I have watched so many loved ones endure. It's horrific to me to see someone in so much pain, even if they are not showing it on the outside. It's tangible. It's in waves.

My friend who lost her baby girl has "moved on". She has a beautiful new child. But the loss is visible in her eyes. I don't know if it will ever fully fade.


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"Grieving doesn't have to tear people apart... unless they refuse to let go... refuse to realize reality and relinquish control that they don't have, anyway."

*

People cannot help what grief does to them--true grief.

I'm not talking about people that refuse to help themselves or are drama queens or want sympathy, or just weak people.
That's another topic.

Plenty of people accept death, do not fear it and understand it is natural and that accidents and unexpected illnesses and deaths occur.

The fact that a person can be "torn apart" has absolutely nothing to do with accepting death or even having a healthy view of what happens to us in life and death. Grieving has nothing at all to do with control or refusing to "let go." That's a nebulous term if I ever heard one.

Loving someone so much and being so close them, and continuing to miss them so much is grief. It's different for each death and each person experiencing the death; most often it has to do with the circumstances and timing of the death, and has been mentioned here.

Grief is not a cognitive function.
Grief is emotional.

One can absolutely accept a death, be healthy and productive and function perfectly fine and yet still be "torn apart" and miserable. It is not a choice, I can assure you. It is just love.

I'm glad some of us are able to feel this way about one another--it makes the time we had more special, and the time apart bittersweet.


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It does have a lot to do with timing and circumstance. Like I said, I was able to smile through much of my grandparent's deaths because I was happy for them. They had lived long, good lives. They had died with little pain. They were able to say goodbye.

I still grieve over other deaths. The sudden ones. I rage for their parents. I rage for their families, for the lives that they did not lead. I rage for myself, that here I am, a year, two years, ten years past their death and they will forever be stuck at X age.

The rage is not anger so much as devastation so much as longing. It's a bittersweet package that most of the time I can contain, and then something reminds me. Oh. She would have been five. Oh... he would be graduating with me, but here we all are, as if he never existed. Oh! there is his mother in the grocery store. Do I say hello? Do I run because I cannot confront her grief?

I say hello, and I can see it in her eyes... she remembers when I was born. I remember her son. He is alive in me. She wants to hold me. She wants a piece of me. I would almost give her my life if she asked because her pain is so immense. My mother says she will actually leave if she sees the other mother because she cannot handle knowing her daughter lives, and the other womans son is dead.

He died of an illness. Very sudden. No one could have predicted. But I remember him, I remember his blonde hair, his passion for languages. He was in college. He was her pride and joy.

And she continues. She is not on the couch in a stained nightdress clutching his photo. She is on the board of directors, she volunteers. She lives her life. She has it together.

But anyone who has looked into the eyes of someone who has truly lost. Suddenly lost. When so much was on the horizon. There is no describing the devastation. So I let her hold me. I let her hold my baby. I tell her how good I'm doing, and she smiles and tells me to call her. I keep in touch through the community not because her son was my best friend but because if she can see life, she can continue. Because it is all I can do. Because I did not lose the special son who was her boy, I cannot ever begin to understand her special brand of grief.

And I would never presume to judge her process.


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I planned and paid for my own cremation in 1995. The crematorium will dispose of my ashes (extra fee). I had decided (after my divorce) that no one should have to be responsible to keep or spread my ashes.

Now, DBF of 11 years, says he would like to take my ashes to one of my favorite national parks. I keep telling him, in reality, he'd be relieved if he did not have to do it.


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Silversword, you are an extraordinary person and friend.
You possess the gift of true empathy--there is no doubt from your words.

Many people feel sympathy and move on. There is nothing wrong with that--it's life. But many people who have lost someone need a special person that can understand and empathize with them. You are that person.

You and I share this, and it is a burden, but it is also a gift because I think we are meant to be here for those that need us, as you most certainly are for your friend--you actually feel her pain and experience it. There are no dismissals of "you have to move on," there is no "look at the windshield instead of the rear view mirror," there are no "he's in a better place" and no "well, remember all the good years and memories." Those words are absolutely meaningless and dismissive, even if not meant that way.

One of my best friends I met while dating my husband--she worked with him. We remained friends all these years, traveling across the country to visit one another. We were there the day her daughter was born, 7 months before my second daughter was born. When we moved back here, we moved into a rent house a block from her. On my husband's birthday, the sixteen year old daughter was killed in an accident. I was at her house hours after this happened and watched her go through all of this--a single mom. Her only daughter--her first son died also as an infant.

Like you, my life just has not been the same since then.
It was just too close. I can tell you that she has been enormous comfort and help to me--she was very close to my husband, as well. Her calm graciousness, courage and faith is something for me to emulate.

I cannot begin to understand losing a child, although people close to me have as in this case, and I saw many parents do exactly that through my years volunteering at a children's hospital.

You are absolutely right--we cannot judge anyone's grief process, or apparent lack of one. It is one thing to grieve for a grandparent, parent, or someone who has lived a full life, was sick, ready to go, and you had time to say goodbye. That was true with my Dad, although he was not that old, he was ready to go.

It's the sudden, unexpected deaths that we all know are possible, but secretly hope will not happen to us, that knock us off balance. But we manage to stand. With friends like you, SS. :)


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Thank you Demi. You are very kind.

I cannot imagine the loss of your friend's daughter. How wonderful though, that you can be of comfort to one another. Life does go on, but it is not the same life. And after a while others do move on, which can be painful as well. To know that others have forgotten; many times all someone wants is to know that another person truly remembers their loved one and their special qualities and mourns them like they do. I suppose it's a sort of validation. Yes, I remember your sweet boy. Yes, I think of him often. He will always live in my heart and memories. If someone else is mourning (and I don't mean bawling and carrying on) it does make the load a little lighter. And if I can pick up just one piece of that heavy emotional baggage and carry it just a short while it is my duty and it is my priviledge.

If the person who has been next to you is gone, readjusting for that empty space can be like stepping off a curb. A sudden jolt, then... oh. That's where level ground is. One must keep walking and the curbs may become easier to see and navigate, but they never go away.

I suppose one comparison would be similar to what I've heard people go through after an amputation. The phantom pains.


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I just stumbled upon this discussion because my mother scattered the remains of my grandmother in all her favorite places growing up but kept a ziplock full bag to give me to scatter in my garden. I did this several weeks ago and noticed my new fruit trees (mainly my apples) and other plantings improved. My husband mistook the ashes for protein powder and almost added them to his fruit drink before I explained to him what they were. Nothing gross about ashes. It's a natural part of the cycle of life.


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If everyone only knew what the things they consume really contained, or how they were produced, and what is allowed by government standards... I think they'd be just a little bit grossed out, making a little ash seem incredibly benign in comparison!

I'm not really surprised that fruit trees found a little ash to be to their liking. Blood and bone meal is sold as a garden additive, and gives a boost to many different types of plants.

It is all part of the natural cycle... ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


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Back in the old days, a tough old cowboy counselled his grandson that if he wanted to live a long and fruitful life, the secret was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder on his breakfast every morning and put a little of it in his dinner every night. Hell, you can even put a bit of it in your coffee!

The grandson did this religiously to the age of 103.

And, sure enough, when he died he left 14 children, 30 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren, 25 great-great-grandchildren, and a five-metre hole where the crematorium used to be.


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I don't know that gun powder is healthy to consume, or that it has any properties that make it good to consume... but then, we already consume so much that isn't healthy...


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Shaxhome, thanks for the humor - I laughed for 10 minutes.


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Me too. Thanks!


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Shax--funny story.

Whoosh...!


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Unfortunately, there are idiots out there who feed gun powder to their dogs, or consume it themselves for various ridiculous reasons.

There's the whoosh...


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I still like the story of the stoneworker during the building of the National Cathedral in DC. His wife died and he was denied permission to put her cremains in a wall of the cathedral because only clergy, important persons, and people making large donations could be put into the cathedral walls.

He mixed her ashes in mortar and... she's definitely in and on the walls.


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We had a little dog in Nam as a battery pet, had my monkey too. Well, Short Round,the dog, liked to eat gun powder(looked like rabbit pellets, and one day he up and died. He just fell over, didn't blow up or anything like that. The GI vet said that probably didn't kill him? most likely was some kind a worm/parasite? Cocoa, my monkey didn't like gun powder. I don't think she had worms either, like most of the humans looked like they had! We never got worms, the hot sauce we had to dump on the food most likely killed all parasites we may have ingested! Gun powder for the big guns didn't taste too bad but the gun powder we load in small arms isn't too appetizing even tho it looks like poppy seeds on a bagel.


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