Scattering Joe’s Ashes

Today, I spoke to a friend whose mother recently died. My friend shared that not only had she inherited her mother’s cremation ashes but also her dad’s, her grandparents’ on both her mom’s side and her dad’s side, those of an aunt she had never met, her dad’s sister’s ashes and the cremains of several family pets. In total, she had brought home 10 cremation urns. She said they were all sitting on a bookshelf because she didn’t want to stick them in a closet…but on the other hand, she did not want people to think she hoarded family remains. Stifling my amusement, I told her I understood and asked her if her brother could take an urn (or two or three or four), but alas, he felt for the sake of the family the urns should stick together. My friend shared that letting go was so hard for her family, and I said that was pretty obvious from her collection of urns—at which point we both burst into laughter. When we had finally composed ourselves, she wondered what we had done with Joe’s remains.

Dearly Departed Joe sits on a shelf in the living room in a urn. Inside the urn is a plastic bag secured with a twist tie. We also have a smaller sealed cube of some of Joe’s ashes; it looks like a paperweight. When we were going through the paperwork with the cremation parlor, the director quoted me two prices: one for all of Joe’s ashes and another for a portion of the ashes. I said that I wanted all of them. It just seemed the right thing to do.

We scatter Joe’s ashes on important occasions in our life. Cole and I scatter them on the anniversary of Joe’s death, during the big Chicago blizzard a few years ago; we have taken them to the cemetery where his parents are buried; we scatter them on Joe’s birthday and on Cole’s birthday; and we scatter them every year on Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dave, Joe’s friend since kindergarten, was already at our house making Thanksgiving dinner with Cole when Joe’s sister and brother-in-law dropped by with a divine lemon meringue tart to enjoy over midday cocktails. After we devoured the tart and enjoyed a cocktail, I scooped some of Joe’s ashes into a soup bowl and we headed out to the front yard to scatter them.

My friend was amazed that we could scatter Joe’s ashes like confetti…and then immediately apologized for the comparison. I laughed and told her that in a way it was like confetti: a celebration of love, family, friendship, cherished memories and letting go. A little ash always remains behind on our hands and our clothes…which, of course, is just perfect because Joe was sometimes a bit of an ash. (Forgive me.)

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16 thoughts on “Scattering Joe’s Ashes

  1. For anyone who is wondering, there is nothing macabre about this experience at all! Joe always loved a celebration and I am sure he is watching with a martini in his hand laughing that big, loud Joe laugh.

  2. KB, this is the most lovely story of having your beloved Joe at all the important parts of the life he would have loved to be there for! I like this so much better than one “scattering of the ashes”. Thanks for sharing…

  3. I have my Dad, Tyler (my choc lab), Tank (my other hoc lab), Chelsea (our little border collie mix rescue dog),and Dobbs (Wyllys’ cat). They are in the powder room closet next to the TP and pet supplies. KB, I like your idea. I think we will start doing that! Happy Holidays and thanks for all those that brought us such joy that are now in my bathroom closet.

    • Well…If your dad is like my dad and has/had a phobia about running out of tp I bet he is very reassured.
      Nancy…I encourage you to go forth and scatter!

  4. sounds like you, cole, family & friends are doing joe right by scattering his ashes at appropriate moments.
    john’s ashes are in ohio & buried traditionally. our four dogs are in urns on the fireplace mantle. i’m running out of room! i have considered putting all four pup baggies together in a larger urn. still thinking on that. my animal loving 1st cousin knows to combine my ashes & the dogs when the time comes & put us in the family plot. tough if there are regulations against this…….cousin will get it done!

    • My father-in-law urn was buried traditionally. We had a very nice service for him. There are regulations but they are silly, old fashion and mostly made for the benefit of the funeral industry. I’m pretty sure no one checks. Sounds like your cousin is a doer!

  5. Kinda makes me think, would I like having a little piece of my dad with me? we can’t b cremated in Islam, so burial will be our only choice, but this does makes me think of few places where my dad presumably like his ashes to be burried.

    • Well Sendi…at least you won’t ever be faced with a collection of Urns! So that is something! :-D. And of-course you always have “a piece” of your Dad with you. ♥

  6. My only glimpses of Joe are from your words, so I think this tradition fits him perfectly! We kept my dad’s ashes for about a year, before finally placing him in a mausoleum. I think all of us kind of miss having him around, even in ashy form. Still, the Church prefers burial of some sort, so we followed. It is what it is. My sister keeps her cremated Bichon in her living room, which feels perfectly natural and right to me.

    • Exactly right—it comes down to what is feels natural for you and your family. I’m not sure how the church would feel about it but we do have the sealed cube of Joe’s ashes separate from the rest. I call it Cole’s college “urn.” But even when all the ashes have been eventually scattered we will have the sealed urn.

  7. We had Dad’s ashes for 6 mos because the lake where my Mom’s ashes were spread wasn’t accessible to us when he died. I sort of liked visiting him on my brother’s fireplace mantel…but we wanted them together so that next summer we took the boat out and spread them on their lake. Still. I wouldn’t have minded them both being on a shelf nearby. I think.

    • The lake memorial sounds lovely meaningful to your family. On a shelf is nice but eventually you do have to do something with them or like my friend you end up with a collection!

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