Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ashes to Ashes

I read an article in the Wall St. Journal last week about a woman who had her husband cremated and, for the last 5 years, has been spreading his ashes in various places around the world. Sounds like an excuse to have a vacation. There are probably days when my other half would like to do that too.

As cremation becomes more popular, the funeral industry is worried about a frenzy of “wildcat scattering” – unauthorized ash distribution. As an old hand at this, my mother’s last request, I have to admit there is something spiritual and personal about scattering ashes. It just feels better – free to fly instead of trapped underground. My mother did allow that half of her remains be buried with my father – I still haven’t sorted that one out. Maybe there are just some things the kids are never supposed to know.

For several hundred dollars, depending on the circumstances, you can hire people to handle the disposition of the ashes, including the legal stuff and making a video for the family to share – maybe on You Tube. I guess that’s what happens when you’re too busy to say goodbye in person.

The article got me thinking about where I want my ashes to go. Lots of things come to mind. Maybe a hot air balloon ride over the Village or around the backyard or perhaps a favorite spot in Glen Helen. Please talk to the folks at the Glen before starting down that path and don’t put the remains in a water source – Clean Water Act.

I’ve often toyed with the idea of making lockets containing a few ashes for my friends so they could always have me with them. So far, no one seems to be interested unless the lockets are 24kt gold – I don’t think people are taking this seriously.

Unless something better comes up, I want my ashes put in an open basket on the back of my wife’s bicycle and just let me disappear over time while she’s riding various places around town. I wonder if the bike committee will have to put up new signs for that.

A. Reader

Edtor's note: Readers are cautioned to check local ordinances and obtain landowner permission before scattering ashes.


jafabrit said...

A Hindu man in my hometown in Newcastle has won the right after a long legal battle to be cremated in a funeral pyre according to his religion.

I think it wise to learn what one can and can't do in these circumstances.

Susan Gartner said...

I think the bicycle idea is brilliant.

Les Groby said...

Yes, PLEASE be considerate when "scattering" ashes of loved ones outdoors. I have encountered what were obviously "creamains" on the ground on a couple of occasions around here while hiking, and I consider it quite rude to dump them in a place and manner where they will be encountered by unsuspecting strangers. This is a heavily populated area and all "natural" areas get a lot of traffic. That special spot in the Glen of your loved one's is most likely someone else's special spot too, and they might not be able to enjoy it as much anymore after brushing Grandpa off their shoes and clothing, and knowing he'll always be there. If you're contemplating a "scattering" and you've never seen cremated remains, be aware they are not like the fluffy ash you clean out of your fire place, that would quickly dissolve into the environment. They are more like sand and silt, often with visible chunks of blackened bone, that can remain visible where dumped for quite a long time, making using that spot a creepy experience for other visitors. In an urban area they would make a visible mess, and having them blow into your face would be very unpleasant, so please no more talk about scattering from moving vehicles.