“I can’t bury my parent’s ashes”. What to do when you can’t part with the ashes of the people you’ve lost
I was asked about this by someone who lost several family members and hasn’t been able to bear burying their ashes even though she has bought the plots and beautiful headstones for them.
People can behave so differently when it comes to ashes of someone they love. Some feel a great attachment to them, unable to spread or bury them. Some refuse to even pick them up from the crematorium/ funeral parlour. And then others are fine to go out and spread the ashes straight away.
If you are struggling to part with the ashes of your parent or someone else you love I would ask you these questions: What does burying/spreading the ashes mean to you? What are you frightened of? Why are you holding on to them? What do you think will happen when you no longer have the ashes?
For most people there can be a belief that these ashes are the last physical part of your parent or loved one that you have left……so it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to let them go. But really these ashes just represent them. These ashes are the remnants of the home your parent or loved one used to live in.
Ironically, the closer and tighter you hold on to things like this the harder it is to feel free to think about them when you want because you tie their memory to a particular box or location. Holding on to the ashes doesn’t bring you closer to them. As their child or family member you are a living breathing piece of them…far closer to them than a box of ash. Once you realise that their memory and your love for them live not in those ashes, but in your heart, mind, and memory, you don’t have the same connection to the ashes.
You can read this blog that I wrote about what to do when you don’t have a grave to visit – it talks about how to remember them without having to be in a certain place or holding a certain object.
If you would still like to keep some part of the ash then there is no reason why you can’t. Spread or bury most of it but keep a small part for something else. There are all sorts of creative and interesting things you can do with the ashes of a loved one. This blog will give you some different ideas, from the normal to the very different to the out-and-out wacky.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions below. I’d love to hear your ideas, opinions, experiences around the ashes of your loved ones.