Dear Barbara, You wrote in your blog, and one of the pamphlets: “There can be great comfort found in putting on an unwashed sweater of the person who recently died, to feel them, to smell them. Seeing and holding something they treasured or used,…” I am not a very sentimental guy but as I cared for my Dad after my mom died, we bonded strongly over the years. After he died, I had to get rid of pretty much everything and quickly. I kept a few things, one seemingly odd thing was a light fuzzy blanket that covered him for the last few months of his life in his bed. I put it in a plastic bag. I moved 3 times since he passed and each time I moved I threw things out that I hadn't used in a long time. I always kept that blanket. It sits on a shelf in my shed, waiting on the day when I am ready to let go. Each time I've seen it, I lay my hand on the blanket and 'talk' to my Dad. I tell him how my sister is doing, how I am doing, how much I love him, and what I'm up to. It isn't sobering or sad, it's a pleasant comfort, and I still feel the bond when I talk. I don't know if I'll ever throw it out. I have both my Mom and my Dad's ashes. I still haven't figured out what to do with them. Due to my moving frequently, I'm not ready to put them in the ground somewhere I may never be able to visit. I've thought of putting them both in the ocean, which was an idea my Dad thought was nice. I don't know if Cruise ships allow a small personal ceremony while at Sea. Would like to know your thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your experience with your dad's blanket. It made me smile in a healing way. About your question of what to do with your parent's ashes; I have the same situation with my husband's parent's ashes that are in the back of our closet--what to do with them?
I don't think cruise ships allow spreading ashes but you can always ask. In nearby Depoe Bay, OR on Memorial Day a group of boats go out from the harbor and people scatter ashes into the ocean. Maybe other areas do something similar.
Here are my personal thoughts: it is nice to have a "place to go" and "visit" and an ocean is too vague, throwing the ashes into the air is too vague.
Maybe, at some point, you can find a place even though you move frequently. A place that has meaning to them or to you. Plant a tree in a park and scatter the ashes around the tree. Pick a cemetery and get a drawer for the ashes.
I was hiking in a forest, in the middle of a state Oregon park, and came to a small rickety bridge over a stream. There, off to the side, was a white cross with writing telling the story of a son who loved the forest and his ashes were scattered there. They had a place even though it was remote.
Wherever you find for their ashes, keep the blanket as that is your touchstone.
Something more... about Where Do I Scatter Mom's Ashes?
If you have experienced a death of someone you love recently, we encourage you to read our booklet, MY FRIEND, I CARE; The Grief Experience. There is support and tools in the booklet that can help during the painful grieving process. We offer more support in our booklets, KNOWLEDGE REDUCES FEAR and KNOWLEDGE REDUCES FEAR PT 2.
I enjoyed the comments about where place the ashes. My wife passed several years and I honored her wish to have a traditional burial. However, I will be cremated, since our plot is many miles from where I now reside, I have taken steps to have my ashes to be spread in several locations. First a small portion will be on my great-grandfathers grave. Second and Third on my grandfathers and fathers graves family plot. The remaining will be placed next to my beloved wife on our plot. This way each time when our ancestors visit each location they will know the history.
My mom died in 2018 and I have an almost empty bottle of her perfume I will probably keep forever! Our family is taking some of her ashes to all her favorite places together, but the majority of her ashes were used in an artificial reef off the coast of North Carolina. We worked with Eternal Reefs to create a lasting memorial for her. It was such a wonderful, peaceful experience and we have the coordinates for her reef ball and can go and “visit” anytime now.
After my mom passed away, we fulfilled her wish to be cremated and scattered over the ocean. We were in San Diego and there are boat companies that will take a small party out in the San Diego Bay to scatter ashes. It was a beautiful ceremony and it meant so much to me. I even read the back of your booklet “Gone From My Sight”. That was in 2005, I was then and still am a hospice RN. I use “Gone From My Sight” many times when doing EOL education and support with families and caregivers. Thank you, Barbara, for all you have done and written.
I take my sister’s ashes on trips! We couldn’t have a service because of covid so when I went to Charleston, Savannah, Jekyll Island I took my sister’s ashes and sprinkled them when ever I saw a pretty place. Under big trees, around flowers, bushes. I was very descrete about it. She would have loved it. She liked to travel and pretty places! Thank you for your suggestions.
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