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I can barely read your comments about the morgue and the people who come to take the body away without going into shock: you are right, the whole process is unspeakable. And I don't blame you for wanting to keep Ben's ashes close by - I would do the same. But I have a suggestion that might work for you. When my father died, we didn't want a tombstone or a grave. What we wanted was for his ashes to rest in a place he loved. A beautiful, massive hardwood bench was placed on the dune on which our holiday cottage sits, overlooking the sea. We put half his ashes into the concrete foundations, along with a few mementos, and added a small brass plaque bearing just his initials. Then we built a small, perfect replica of a Viking ship (using a kit), loaded it with firelighters, sparklers and the remaining ashes, and took it down to the sea on a calm night. We lit the on-board bonfire and sang songs as we sent the blazing little ship out to sea, just as the Vikings did with their dead kings. The next morning, bits and pieces of the charred wooden ship washed up all along the beach. It was a fitting send-off to a legend of a man. I'm not saying this is for you, but have you considered a bench, a fountain or a pool in your garden? Or somewhere close by, in a lovely setting?

When my father died it took me 1 1/2 years to part with the ashes and bury him. I kept a very small bit for myself, though. We say that I have my father's big toe with me. The ash sits in his urn in my house. It is comforting somehow. The only reason I forced myself to bury the rest is that is what he asked for before he died and I felt obligated to respect his wishes. I always thought that I would never care for ashes, they are not the person, but here I am, with my father's "big toe" and that is that, right?

I would keep them as they are, private and close to your heart, as your son and your grief are private and close to your heart.

My family has never been "into" cremation - as if it is something to get into. Either way, we have always chosen burials. However, when my beloved grandfather died last fall, we had him cremated at his wishes. It was a very different process for us, as we had always done burials. Just prior to my grandfather dying, we spoke with him about where to put his ashes, ultimately deciding to bury them in the local cemetery. My grandmother is adamant about being buried, but neither of them wanted to be parted from the other, so it was decided that he would be buried in their shared plot. When she passes - which I hope is many, many years off - she will join him, but with a traditional burial.

Death is such an awful thing to think about, but our family at least feels peace knowing that they are honoring the wishes of both grandparents.

My aunt's ashes were spread by her daughter on a mountain. My grandfather was spread in the Pacific Ocean by his sisters. My grandmother was buried on top of her mother's coffin next to her sister.

Oh (Tertia)... I guess it's one aspect of letting go. You're not ready (yet?), and you've got every right in the world not to be.

I have thankfully never lost a child. (knocking on wood). The whole logic of it seems perfectly sane to me though. I have a couple of relatives unaccounted for after cremation, and multiple close relatives in cemeteries I don't set foot in. They live on in my memory, I dont need to go to the piece of ground where their shell has been buried.

My father died over 10 years ago and we still have his ashes in an unremarkable box at home. At first we didn't know what to do with them, then it didn't seems necessary or urgent to do anything with them. I think as our society is so uncomfortable with death that we try and find answers and comprehension in ritual, but when the ritual doesn't suit the timing or manner of death, or indeed how we feel in our hearts, we then feel panicky as if we must follow through with the ritual regardless, becuase that is what one must do. That makes about as much sense as HAVING to wear something blue on your wedding day - if you want to, fine, if you don't, also fine.
If holding on to Ben's ashes is what is best for you for the moment, or for the next 50 years, then do it. It doesn't mean anything less if his ashes are not scattered in a beautiful spot, you can still find a beautiful spot where you go to think about him.
But, consider Marko's feelings as well - he may need Ben's ashes to be scattered or buried, or at least given the chance to talk about any plans or options. I'd feel terrible if my family decided what to do with my fathers ashes and to not be included in the process.

A friend recently lost a sister and had her ashes made into a diamond ring, via these people: http://www.lifegem.com/
Seems such a beautiful memorial that can always be carried close.

When my grandmother passed away, my aunt kept her ashes for a year and spoke to them regularly. After a year we had a ceremony and buried her ashes with my grandfather at a cemetery. I think what you're feeling is very natural given the circumstances. You should do what feels right for you.

My father died in June and my mother had his ashes, uhh, I guess entombed? They are in a memorial slot where she will also be placed when she dies, after I have her cremated. Personally, I dont like the idea of entombment. I would much rather see their ashes put back to the earth. This is the same reason I dont want to be burried myself; I think we should be able to decay. However, this is what they have both chosen, so I will carry out those wishes. When my v old dog, who also kept my dad company while he was sick, died in July, my mom, husband, and I poured his ashes at the bottom of my moms yard. Ironically, my father, who would sometimes hang random things on the fenceposts or stick them in a tree, had hung the bust of an angel on one of the posts. That is where we put Dragon (the dog): at the foot of that post.

I think that if you want to keep Bens ashes forever, keep them. Many ppl have the ashes of loved ones in v nice urns in promenent their houses. No one would even know that ashes are in there if they didnt ask.

Zachary and Spencer are in two separate marble containers - very small ones but separate with their names ingraved on the top. DH and I have a pact that whomever passes away is cremated and both Zachary and Spencer ashes will be released along with them so that when the last one dies we don't have to worry about them being away from a parent. We wanted to make sure they are with us when we pass on. I know it sounds creepy but it is very comforting to us.

The entire process was horrible and sad picking out the urns we wanted, picking up their ashes and then the wait until they were cremated - crying a bit now thinking about it now.

It is a hard process to go through.

My brother died four years ago this month. We had a Granite bench built in his memory and it sits out on his plot in the Memorial Woods at Royal Oak Burial Park. It's nice- it's located along a forested path and it is very natural. His name is engraved on it and everything, but he hasn't been put to rest there yet, his ashes are still sitting in a urn on my mother's dresser.
As his sister, I would like to see his remains be put to rest. I would like for others to be able to go to that place and have their own time with him. But I know my mother is not ready for that; And I will give her as much time as she need's. I think that she is comforted by the fact that he is close by. And he may never make it out to the cemetery, but if that is what my mom wants and what she need's to help her heal, then so be it.
You do what you need to do to heal Tertia.

my uncle, the baby of the family,his mothers light and joy, passed away as a young man, ten years ago this year. my grandmother still has his ashes next to her bed. She knew he wanted his ashes spread at the ocea, and she has always intended to eventually fulfill that wish. She just needed them by her. She has mentioned to me that she thinks the time will come soon when she will be ready to part with them, but it has taken ten yeas, and make take more still. Her mother passed away at the end of the year also, and they had a granite bench made for her, near the park where she took us all to feed ducks as kids. I think that beautiful sentiment is helping grandmother. Honestly, if she never did anything else with them, i don't see the issue. Like you , she knows he isn't in them, but they are what she has left. No one should have a problem with someone holding on to something that doesn't keep them from living their own life and helps them feel close to those they have lost.

My son David's fourth angel anniversary is coming up at the end of the month. I had a good cry reading your post, brought back so many memories (the shock you go into so you can actually function) of the days, weeks and months after his death. Going back to the Funeral home to pay for the funeral a week later, asking about his death certificate, thinking it would be another week or two, instead being given it in a manilla envelope, going back to the car, and just sobbing because it was my son's death certificate. At the cemetary a month later to pick up his ashes, which had been stored there until we decided what to do, it was bothering me that his ashes were in a vault, my Mom, step-Dad and best friend with me, given his ashes in a cardboard box with his name on it, I just broke down... David's ashes stayed at my Mom's for the first eight months, then at Christmas, we brought him home. His ashes are now in a beautifully engraved brass box which sits on my jewellry box on my dresser in our bedroom. Two years later, we got a wonderful granite bench with a storage area in it and both my husband and I will be cremated and interred there with David when we die. It is already engraved with both our names and David's name and dates and a picture of him. I have also reserved the spot next to it for our daughter and her fiance (not as strange as it sounds actually). It is in a wooded area, just like the camping he loved. I drive by the cemetary everyday on my way to and from work, so I know that I can go there any time but I am not ready to put his ashes out there. I know they are only ashes, that the part that made him David isn't in the box, but that is his physical body, and I still need it close by. He was 15 when he died, he would still be living in our house, attending college if he had lived (his sister is 23 and lives in the self-contained basement suite) so I guess it is a measure of comfort to still have both my children under our roof (does this make sense). As a mother who has lost a child, I understand your reluctance to do anything with Ben's ashes and the comfort you may not even realize you have by keeping his ashes in the house (even in a memory box on a shelf in Kate's closet). Someday you may be ready, but you are not there yet, your post shows this. Anyways, here is what I used for David's 1st memoriam. It spoke to exactly what I felt that year.

We are connected, my child and I, by an invisible cord not seen with the eye. It's not like the cord that connects us until birth, this cord isn't seen by any on earth. The cord does its work, right from the start, it binds us together attached to my heart. I know that it's there though no one can see, the invisible cord from my child to me. The strength of this cord is hard to describe, it can't be destroyed, it can't be denied. It's stronger than any cord man could create, it withstands all tests, can hold any weight. And though you are gone and not here with me, the cord is still there but no one can see. It pulls my heart, I am bruised ... I am sore, but this cord is my lifeline like never before. I feel you are with me each step that I take, bound by the cord that no one can break. I am thankful to God, he connects us this way, a mother and child, death can't take it away.


Sorry for the novel, hugs to you and your family
David's Mom
20dec88 - 30mar04
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal
Love leaves a memory no one can steal
Forever loved, never forgotten, fiercely missed

It is interesting how we all differ in what is right for us. We didn't really think about keeping Kendra's ashes at home. I didn't want to scatter them anywhere either. I suppose we are more traditional in that we wanted a place to go to where we could 'visit' her. We put a bench up by her grave so that we could sit comfortably when visiting. Often we go there and have lunch or snacks while sitting watching the ducks. We put some of her things into the ashgrave with her and I also have a memory box at home. We were also thinking about having a little corner in the garden at home with a bench and a plaque, maybe some roses. I think you should keep Ben's ashes at home as long as you want to.
When my gran died they sprinkled her ashes on a corner of the bowling green as she was mad about bowls. I like to think of my grandfather going to sit in that little corner to chat to her whenever he plays.

My beautiful, wonderful 16 year old niece died in July of 2006, after a 10 month battle with cancer. My sister & BIL chose to have her ashes buried in the cemetary where they will be buried. I dont know how they came to that decision, but I do know it was Jennifer's decision to be cremated. I dont know why she chose that either.

No one should have make those decisions. Ever.

I had a friend die much too young last summer. At her funeral (held at her parents home, where she'd lived the last 5 months of her life), I asked her best friend where she'd been buried. She gestured to an old tree in the yard, and said they'd buried her ashes there. "Kendra was such a homebody, she wouldn't have wanted to be far away". I thought it was perfect - especially for someone who died so long before her time.

I know some people have ashes made into diamond rings/necklaces but this can be very expensive - and easily lost.

I read in a magazine the other day about a company that designs ashes teddy bears specifically for infant deaths. You purchase a bear, and they come specially designed to hold the ashes so the bear can then be on your bed/table etc.

I wouldnt have a clue myself. God knows how you guys get through it. xxx

Tertia, keep Ben's ashes in the cupboard if feels right and gives you some peace. There is no need to understand it or rationalise it. I have never lost a child (despite extensive treatment, I have been unable to have one) but your account of Ben's death in your book breaks my heart.

I have experienced death, though - my father died 20 years ago in Zimbabwe. We burried his ashes in a beautiful memorial walk under the Msasa trees at the local cemetary. I wish so much we'd scattered them in one of his favourite places instead. None of us live there anymore and I was distressed for days when I read a recent book about an ex-Zimbabwean's return to the country where he discovered that this exact spot in the cemetary is now used as an open-air toilet by residents of the local high-density suburb. I am sad that when we decided to return his ashes to the earth, we didn't choose a place he loved, instead of a place that is now defiled.

When my twins died I had them cremated and put in the little wooden box together. It is coming up on five years now and they still sit on my dresser. I like them close to me.

Tertia,
Know that you're not alone with your need to keep Ben close. You may be ready next year, or in five years, or you may never be ready and that is okay. I have a post in a similar vein at http://cacklinrose.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/baby-girl/.

Also, my neighbors had his mother's ashes mixed in with some soil and planted a tree in her honor (she was an avid gardener) in their front yard. Unfortunately they were transferred out of state a few months after their very touching ceremony. They did not take the tree, and it was a little awkward for them.

Makes sense. I know two families who've lost children. One family lives in a remote place. She won't move because her child is buried there. The other family had the cremation for similar reason. They knew they'd be moving and that they couldn't leave a grave. For some reason moms especially are like that. Its how it is.

You do what is in your heart. If it is keeping the ashes close that's what you do. End of story, this is YOUR story and you get to call the shots.

I have a wall unit type thing in my living room. It has 3 shelves and a glass door. Each shelf holds something of my David who died an hour after his birth, he was born at 22 weeks. In July it will be 4 years that I lost him.
On the top shelf of that unit sits his urn, tiny little urn with his ashes. I can't bear to be seperated from it. I have told my husband I must be buried with it, and if he cremates me, I want David's ashes mixed with mine. I don't think I could ever bury them somewhere. I know they are just ashes, but it's all I have of him. I often stop in front of the unit, kiss the urn, his picture, his teddy bear. I think about the little time I had with him. I also talk to him, and tell him I love him and miss him. I personally need those ashes there.

When my grandfather died, his ashes were burried on my parents' property. Friends still are shocked when I say my grampa is burried in our backyard, but it's what my dad wanted and I think it's fine.

I do have a suggestion for you, and I hope you don't get offended - get Ben's box out of Kate's cupboard. Whatever you want to do with that box is your business, but eventually, Kate will ask or find out what that is, and realizing your brother's ashes have been in your room can really traumatize a little kid who doesn't understand. I can picture little kids in elementary school really freaking out about something like this. There must be a better place...

Hello Tertia,
Delurking just to say that my mum drove around with her fathers ashes in the back of her car for a year and half just to be near him. He now "resides" in the garage on the tool bench as he was a carpenter. I think you need to do what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to greive.

Darling T~ This makes perfect, beautiful sense to me.

"I need to know that it is close by, part of us. Part of the family."

oh tertia, do what you need to do. he is of your body, and of your soul. my biggest regret over the death of my beautiful baby emily is that i did what other people wanted me to, not what was right for me. she was cremated after she died at 10 weeks. leaving her at the funeral home overnight nearly killed me. i had furious frantic thoughts about asking the hospital to keep her in a chiller drawer at the morgue so i could see her whenever i wanted to. i had to physically restrain myself from shouting and screaming as we drove away leaving her there. when we left her again, this time on the dais at the crematorium, i thought someone had torn my soul to pieces. if i had my way i would never have let her go.
my husband made a box out of beautiful native nz timber called rewarewa for her ashes, and i padded it with a piece of green velvet shot with gold thread from which i had made a dress for emily's older sister. we never saw the ashes, as my husband thought (quite rightly but it still feels like he imposed his will on me) that i would go mad if i saw them and try and hold them in some way. my emotions terrified him.
we buried emily in 1985, in the same grave as my stillborn brother adam, who died in 1963. last year i finally, after years of visiting an unmarked anonymous grave, had a headstone erected with a quote from peter pan engraved across the front "oh nighlight, protect my sleeping babes, burn clear and steadfast'
the headstone was a final letting go for me - but as i let go, she returned even closer to me, in that i was flooded with memories both physical and visual that i had not been able to access before. amazing.
when i miscarried my fourth baby in 1986, the doctor gave me the 'remains' to take home. i kept that container in a jar in my top drawer for a few days - until my husband decided to bury them under a willow tree in our back yard. again, it was against my will - but honestly, i was so traumatised from too much baby grief that i would have kept that jar forever - an insane grief - but you and all the other mums who have lost know that grief all too well.
ben can't be taken from you. you can't lose him because he is there forever, but your fear of loss might be stopping you experiencing that knowledge.
go well terta.
xxx

Tertia, I agree with others that you have to do what feels right. In my family, we have sprinkled the ashes of our dead relatives in places that were meaningful to them. And when I die, I hope my children sprinkle my ashes in the Atlantic Ocean--the place I've been the happiest. Because Ben didn't live to discover his own favorite place, or a place that was meaningful to him, I totally understand why you keep his ashes close to you. YOU were the place that was most important to him. Of course he should be near you.

My mother's ashes are in an urn outside in my back garden, year-round (we get at least four months of snow). Some people find this odd, but she loved to garden, and in fact had her heart attack in (her) garden, so it was the last place she was really alive. She had always wanted to be cremated so as not to take up space in the earth (although technically, I guess she is on top of it).

We are going to Hawaii for our 10-year wedding anniversary in a couple of years and I will be bringing some ashes with me to scatter in the ocean. She always wanted to go to Hawaii and never made it; she will now.

If one day you feel a want or need to move some or all of Ben's ashes, you'll know. The right place for them is where you feel they should be.

I think that you need to keep them in whatever place brings you the most comfort or peace - although I know those are relative terms.

I buried my baby (still-born at 26 weeks), because I couldn't cremate. But several of my friends who have lost babies cremated because they couldn't bury their babies. Just because you asked, I will offer one idea. One of my friends divided her (37-week stillborn) daughter's ashes. First, she let some of them go on a favorite beach into the ocean, far from where we live. Then she spread some of them on my daughter's grave, so that she had somewhere to "visit" here where we live. Finally, she kept a small amount in a tiny box with all of her keepsakes from her daughter. For her, it was a good way to meet several competing needs. Having said that, I reiterate, you should do what you need and want to do, and that may change, even more than once, as the years go by.

At the risk of really freaking out some of your readers who have not lost a child, I will tell you that I am currently seriously considering moving my daughter from her present place of interment to another part of the cemetary, so that she will be closer to the graves of several of my friends' babies. I just feel so much more at peace when I am in that section of the cemetery than the one she is buried in. I'm not saying I will end up doing it, just making the point that this whole process is not necessarily a static one.

Although you say you are not religious, I will be saying an extra prayer for you and baby Ben tonight.

We buried half of my father's ashes in the Veteran's cemetery and put the rest in the small creek by his house. If I could do it over, I would have put all the ashes in the creek. We rarely visit the cemetery and it makes me feel guilty. I'm not sure why. I know he isn't there.

My father died in 2001 and, as he had wished, was cremated. We still have his ashes in the mortuary box in my mother's closet, at home. For the longest time, neither of us were ready to do anything with them. My mother has become more ready than me, lately, and has suggested a few options, but I just can't. Occasionally she will make me laugh by bringing it up again and saying "Al, your Daddy is ready to come out of the closet." She's very funny, but the thought of "putting" him somewhere and just having that be the end of it... I can't do it yet. It puts me in a weird panic and makes me really upset to think about it, for some unexplainable reason. I was glad that we had known that he wanted cremation -- he died suddenly, but we had all heard him say it many times -- because after he died the thought of having a grave to visit brought me the opposite of comfort. It's hard to explain this to people, but it's the truth.

I don't know when I'll be ready, and I don't understand the reasons for wanting to keep the ashes where they are for now. I just do, and since there are no rules for this sort of thing, I can't bring myself to worry about it.

My mom, sister & I mixed my dad's ashes with wildflower seeds and sprinkled them in a along the banks of a river. Then we threw the urn in to the river because my mom never wanted to look at it again.

((((Tertia))))) Honey, you brought tears to my eyes.

I think on some level, sprinkling ashes would be comforting - he would become part of the sea...the whole sea, all encompassing. Blowing them into the wind, and he'd be on every breeze...planting them with a tree, and he would grow and bloom every spring. I understand all of that, and romantically speaking, it sounds ideal.

But in reality, I would find it much more comforting to have the ashes with me. To always know where they are, to know they are warm, safe, secure. I would find much greater peace in that; at least until the pain wasn't so searing.


My mother-in-law died in 2000. She wanted to be cremated and have her ashes buried at the cemetery where her parents were buried (about a 7 hour drive from where we live). My husband was the youngest kid, without children then, and neutral in the family spats, so we were given the ashes. I got pregnant (something she wanted, I think, and it seemed almost supernatural--we conceived within a day of her death and were due for 4 days before her birthday). When I was about 7 months pregnant, my FIL died. He wanted to be buried--no cremation. And he wanted to be in the cemetery where his grandparents were buried (his parents would be buried there later, but they lived into their 90s whereas my FIL died at 63. They took his death so hard.) That cemetery was 3 hours in the other direction.

So we had a dilemma. Do we put her ashes in his town? Divide them? One of my MIL's children from her first marriage suggested it would be nice to have her mother's name on my FIL's grave so she could visit her. My MIL had 7 children, plus a stillbirth baby buried at the cemetery my FIL preferred. So we opened her ashes and put a small amount in a special box and buried it with my FIL. We put her name on his gravestone (here lies Mr So-So, husband of Mrs So-so).

And then about 4 years pass. And one spring, I started worrying about my MIL's ashes, sitting in our closet. I started thinking about honoring her wishes. I became obsessed. I didn't even know the name of the cemetery she wanted to be in. I started calling funeral homes in the area. I finally found the trustee of the small cemetery--it was such a small town, he had known my MIL. And so we took a long driving trip to deliver the ashes. I felt so upset when we handed them over. It was right and not right. The company I had paid in full to put up the headstone said it was too wet. It took 3 years to get that headstone installed. We haven't made it back to see it in person.

The experience made me realize we should have disobeyed both of them and buried them in the city in which they lived and several of the children lived. I found out years later that another SIL was disgusted that we separated the ashes at all. And yet, every step of the journey felt like the best option at the time.

Sorry to babble on. Best luck in finding that place where you're less panicky on the issue (and maybe that's just being able to say, I need them to be with me, period.)

((((tertia)))))

My thought is to do what you need to do. No right or wrong way.

When my little Princess died it was so hard to let the nurse take her away. I knew she wasn't with me anymore but took such comfort in holding her those last hours.

She was taken by the state to be buried by the biological family (she was a foster placement we were probably going to be able to adopt)who was never there for her. It was like she was taken again, because she is buried so far away, I rarely get to visit her grave. All I have left of her fits into one little box. I have her footprints, handprints and a little hair.

Hang onto Ben's ashes as long as you need to if it brings you comfort. Don't worry about what other people think because only you know what's best for you. I had the hardest time throwing away Princess' medicine and feeding tube supplies. I don't know why but it was just hard to part with anything that belonged to her.

Tertia,

We buried Matthew's ashes, and then Mira's and Georgia's in the same plot in an old wonderful cemetary near our home. Sounds strange, but I am quite proud of the fact that my children are buried in the BEST spot in the cemetary, beside a famous Canadian and father of confederation, and also with the best view in the place. We will be buried right beside them someday.

I couldn't send them to Harvard, but damn I gave them the best of whatever I could.

As to why we buried them instead of keeping the urn? We decided to do it because my husband pushed for it, because he was very worried that we would lose the urns or break it or that it would be damaged by our living children. We had a funeral because I needed to have a ceremoney of some sort to get some emotional closure.

And Tertia, now I'm a little worried about where you have Ben's memory box and ashes. Even if you don't bury them, please get them out of Kate's cupboard. Someday, sooner than you think either she or Adam will find them and get into that box and you will be heartbroken. Put it all in a lockbox in your room or in a safe place they cannot ever get into. My kids are old enough to get into our memory boxes now and search around, but because I've spoken about it with them and showed them things myself they are less inclined to. They know they can look at them if I am with them.

I'll be thinking of you. Let us all know if you ever decide to do something else with Ben's ashes.

My friend keeps her son's ashes in a special outdoors urn, and she has planted a beautiful garden around it. She didn't want to bury his ashes somewhere, because she has always moved around a lot and didn't want to leave him behind or constantly be digging him up and reburying.

I would do exactly what you have done.

I kept my Mom's ashes for about a year until my siblings could come here to so we could all do something together. There is a small mountain in this area and my Mom once told my sister she liked looking at it because she knew I was seeing the same place from the other side. So we took her ashes up there and found a picnic area that has the same name as my youngest child who was the most like my Mom and we walked up the path, then off the path into the woods and buried the ashes there. I didn't scatter them because I didn't want them blowing down the hill onto someone's picnic!

Anyhow - I think it is important to find a meaningful place and do some meaningful thing while you let the ashes go.

A friend of mine lost her 2-year-old son to cancer. She will keep his ashes and they will be buried with her, in her casket, when she dies. This family chose cremation because they're in the military and don't know where they will be transferred and couldn't bear to think of their baby being buried somewhere and then having to move away from him. I think they came up with the perfect solution for their family and their situation. You do whatever you need to do and don't let anybody tell you how you should proceed.

A friend of mine lost her 2-year-old son to cancer. She will keep his ashes and they will be buried with her, in her casket, when she dies. This family chose cremation because they're in the military and don't know where they will be transferred and couldn't bear to think of their baby being buried somewhere and then having to move away from him. I think they came up with the perfect solution for their family and their situation. You do whatever you need to do and don't let anybody tell you how you should proceed.

A friend of mine lost her 2-year-old son to cancer. She will keep his ashes and they will be buried with her, in her casket, when she dies. This family chose cremation because they're in the military and don't know where they will be transferred and couldn't bear to think of their baby being buried somewhere and then having to move away from him. I think they came up with the perfect solution for their family and their situation. You do whatever you need to do and don't let anybody tell you how you should proceed.

Three years ago my son Zach was stillborn. We had him cremated. I too remember the heart wrenching agony of thinking of him being alone until he was cremated.

We keep his ashes in our bedroom on an altar of sorts with his other memory items. I can't stand to think of him being anywhere else. That is the room where he was created. It was the room where he and I spent so many hours together napping, dreaming, etc. It is the room where he died.

When someone dies after living a long life, you usually have a whole house full of objects to memorialize them - a special piece of jewelry from your grandmother, a piece of furniture from your uncle, and so on. When a baby dies so tragically young, you don't have those objects. You may have a blanket or some clothing, but you don't have the objects you'd have from an adult. You also don't have a lifetime of memories of them. It makes sense, to me, that you would hold on to everything you do have. It makes sense that it would be hard to let go. I don't see any reason to rush yourself.

On a lighter note, my aunt drove around with her husband's cremated remains in the trunk of her car long enough that it became kind of a macabre family joke, so keeping your beloved child's ashes in a memory box honestly doesn't sound at all odd to me.

I think if one of my children died, I would save their ashes until my own death, then I would want our surviving relatives to bury us together. They came from my body, and I would want us to be together again.

Love to you, Marko, and all of your beautiful babies.

Tertia--sadly, I know your panic. I felt the same way when we lost our triplet babies. As I type this, I can see their "box" on top of my husband's dresser (we had a nice cedar box made to hold their urns). Inside are three little urns, each one different, with their ashes. I requested right away that they be buried with me. I have never regretted that decision as it gives me peace to know that one day, whatever eternity is like, we will be together (my faith) and what remains of our bodies will be together as well.

Tertia,

If you want to keep them, then keep them.
My mom kept a small bit of my dad's ashes (the rest we scattered in several special places outdoors).
My husband has a small bit of his father's ashes.
It is easier to save a small bit when there is a lot more. I think that would be harder to do with Ben's and besides I don't think that feels right to you.
I like what some of the others have said about wanting to be buried together (it makes perfect sense to me).
Do what feels right to you. (Of course it would be good to make sure Marko understood and was ok with that but something tells me if it was that important to you, he would be.)
'wishIknew'

We had our 4mo. old son cremated. His cherry wood urn sits in our bedroom by the window where I can see it every day. He's been gone for 14years now. Do whatever you need to do but find peace and comfort in it. Hugs to you!!

I think you should keep the ashes for as long as you need to.

Have not read all the comments, just wanted to say that I "get" you 100%. I would also keep them at home, where he is safe and loved and warm. I totally get that.

Hi Tertia

If I ever lost one of my boys (God forbid), I would also have them cremated. I would NEVER, EVER part with their ashes, NEVER. What happens if I move away one day, I would feel like I am leaving them behind. Sounds really silly, but I would keep the ashes with me always.

I would do as you do. I would keep them with me forever and would state so in a will. Your approach of keeping him close makes perfect sense to me.

Sjoe! This is hard. But when you are ready, you'll know what to do and get comfort from it. Until then, do what gives you peace, what feels right for you. Thinking of you!

I think I'd do exactly what you are. I hope I am never, ever in that situation but, I can't imagine parting with them if I were. I do think you might want to move them to your room/office/somewhere that isn't in Kate's room. Hugs!

Tertia--please do as you feel is right with your precious Ben's ashes. As Wobs says above, whatever brings you peace is the right thing.

When my best friend died in 1997, his wife, his mother, and a group of close friends took a day to drive up to a park that he had loved. We spent the day talking about him, remembering him together and alone, and then at sunset, we scattered his ashes over the lake. It was a really beautiful day.

I didn't go back to the park (it was about 8 hours from where I lived at the time) until 2004, the summer I got married, when my husband and I were honeymooning nearby. He had grown up not far from the park, and he had been there before, but I got so much joy out of taking him there for the day. While we were walking around, we happened to run into the chaplain there, who had said a few words at the--I'm not sure what to call it. Service? Goodbye-saying? As it turned out, he remembered the service and took us to his office to show us the notes he had made and the program he had saved from the service. It was really lovely and meaningful.

I have 2 petri dishes from the 2 IVFs that ended in a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. I always intended to bury the petri dishes, but it never felt right.

I no longer think I can bury them. I think I will ask to be buried with them when I pass away.

Would it bring you comfort to hold onto his ashes, and then when you pass away, be buried with them?

I realize a petri dish is in no way the same thing as your son's ashes, but the symbolism of the loss is the same.

My grandparents ashes are both buried under the headstone they chose together. I like the fact that I can go there and talk to them...I know I can talk to them anywhere, but it's nice to know that part of them is there. The fact that they chose the headstone together, and it has an engraved picture of two hands clasped, reminds me of how long their marriage lasted, and how much they loved each other. My grandfather only lived 3 months after my grandmother's death, he didn't want to live after she died. Now their ashes are together.

To be honest, as a mother of twins, you writing about Ben alone without mentioning his twin bothers me. I know that Ben survived the womb long enough to be born when his twin did not, but they were two of a pair. I think if I were in your shoes I would bury the ashes in a nice place with a stone that has both their names on it in so they could be together, at least symbolically, in death. You found it in your heart to name them both, honor them both. Giving yourself the closure of a ceremony and a stone or a special place is not like throwing ashes away, it's giving them a special place of their own, besides in a box on a shelf. It's just another step in letting go that you're not willing to take yet. How will you explain a box of ashes to Adam and Kate? And what if Marko needs a more concrete proof of Ben's passing, a place to go, but you do not? It's very complicated. In my mind though, ashes are still human remains, and keeping human remains around a house can't be good for your psyche. Eventually, you will heal enough to let them go.

My uncle recently passed, and he was cremated and some of his ashes were placed on top of his father's coffin (my grandfather). The rest will be spread in Northern Ontario (an area he loved to visit). My memere (grandmother) was cremated and her ashes were placed on top of her mother's coffin, beside her brother's ashes. This way, family members can always be together. Almost like they're looking out for one another.

My immediate family have always done burials. My father's wife and her family have always chosen cremation. When her father died, his ashes were placed in an urn and kept at her mother's house (I seem to recall them being in the family room?). However when her grandmother died, she was scattered somewhere in the area where she had lived and raised her family (several states away from where her daughter and grandchildren lived as adults).

Whatever you feel is right is the right thing to do with those ashes. If you feel you want to keep Ben close, then his ashes are in the perfect spot, right where they are. Or perhaps one day when you feel ready, on Ben's birthday you could transfer them to a decorative urn of some kind (or have someone else do it), have a small family ceremony, and place them on your hearth or another central spot where you can feel even closer to him.

When John died, I was not prepared to make a decision about what kind of box/container/urn/whatever I wanted his ashes in. So that part has been put off; his ashes are in a really ugly plastic box that the crematory provided, and they are sitting on a bookshelf in our living room, tucked among a bunch of books he never had a chance to read. I can't imagine anywhere he'd rather be.

At John's request and much to my relief because this is what I wanted, too, his ashes will stay in our home for as long as I am alive. Then it's up to the twins. Since one never knows what life will bring, I am not at all comfortable with burying the ashes somewhere. What if I move? Plus, I want John to be in our home. It's not like I think his spirit is in those ashes or anything, but those ashes are what remain of John's physical body, and I want that presence in our house. Maybe that's creepy to some people, but it seems like the most natural thing in the world to me, and that's all that matters.

Is it possible for you to keep some of the ashes, and bury the rest?

I've never been through this myself and I have no idea how hard it must have been to lose Ben and go through the whole death and cremation decision-making process.

For some reason that no one understands or can explain, you need to keep Ben close to you. You know what you need and you have to honor that. Have you considered burying his ashes in a quiet part of your garden or making a memorial bench, similar to what some have suggested? Then you would have a place to go to when you need to but you wouldn't have to see it if you don't want to? At some point teenage Kate is not going to want her brother's ashes in her closet and you will have to find a more permanent location for them.

I scattered some of my dad's ashes on top of a high mountain in Maine (far northern state here in U.S.) that he had climbed often as a boy (It's called Mt. Katahdin, a difficult climb). My brother also planted some under a evergreen tree on his property that my father had given him. The rest are in a bag that I keep under my pillow. Right. But so far (5 years), that's the best I can do.) My mom died last summer, and my brother again put some under the same tree. She had asked that I put some in a beautiful garden spot that she loved at the college I attended and where I now work. The rest are... in another bag under my pillow. I clearly need to work through things -- but that's my business, and you need to do what feels right for you. (My beloved cat's ashes are in a carved box on a table in the living room where he hung out. The sickest part is that I think that if I had him under my pillow I would cry too much. I not that I loved my parents less--or that I'm comparing a pet to a child--but that cat was so close to me, and I nursed it through a terminal illness -- animals don't seem to understand why they are in pain and that vulnerability shook me to the core.)

I understand too your feelings of wanting dear Ben's ashes close to you. You didn't get him with you in the physical world nearly long enough and it is perfectly logical to want to keep his ashes near you.

We lost our beautiful son, twin to our surviving 3-year-old, at 2 days old. I kept his ashes in the little box for the few months after, and then on a beautiful spring day we planted a tree in our side yard and put most of his ashes there. I think of him as nourishing this beautiful maple and it makes me happy. We scattered just a few of his ashes on each birthday thereafter - out into the saltwater inlet we live on. We probably won't do that for many more years as there aren't too many left and I do want to keep a few with us here forever. But it is wonderful to have "Owen's tree" for us all to enjoy as a living monument to our special little guy.

I read every single one of the comments. I was so moved by the ways people dealt with loss, the remains and how they use the symbolism of ashes or markers (or benches, urns, altars!) to remember their loved ones.

I think that having your baby still at home is fitting if it fits the both of you. I jumped a bit (as I noticed several others did) at the mention of it being in Kate's room.

When my grandmother died, I was a little girl and when my aunt visited, bringing the ashes of my grandmother with her in an urn, I freaked to know she was in a little box. I was four years older than Kate, but apparently I had such a crying jag, my aunt was forced to move Grandma Chelle all the way out to the car. It would be a good move to put the memory box with Ben in your own room, or someone less traumatizing for Kate.

My grandmother died almost 20 years ago now. Her ashes are still with my aunt. My aunt told me once it made her feel safe that her mother was still with her. My aunt used to move quite frequently, and no matter when she went, her mother was always there with her. She's a bit more settled now but grandma still sits on a shelf in the living room. My mom is disturbed that her mother's wishes were never fulfilled, and I know that she wants her moved, but still, 20 years later, I don't think my aunt is ready.

My grandmother had her beloved dogs cremated, and her wish was for her ashes to be mixed with her dogs, and spread out over a field of flowers. I see both sides of my mom and my aunt's perspectives - and when my aunt is ready, grandma will get her wish. (My aunt has the dogs' ashes in a styrofoam box in a closet. I remember shaking them violently as a kid... kind of disturbing, huh?)

I had the same feelings about my Dad. He wanted to be sprinkled into the ocean from our favorite fishing spot.
We took long-weekend-family-vacation & on the last night of the trip, His wife and his children & our spouses, all the grandchildren went down the the "rocks".

We spent many a happy day fishing off this jetty. It was one of Dad's favorite places in the whole world.

We each held the box and said our final goodbyes. It was a sad, beautiful moment.

I know what you mean about having him close to you. I wish I had thought to keep a pinch of the ashes for myself. I just have to remember that his blood runs through my veins and I hear his words in my heart.

Reading your post brought back memories of my daughter's stillbirth at 38 weeks. I, too, couldn't stand the thought of her cold and alone at the funeral home. Or buried. Her ashes are in a beautiful container at my father's house. I don't want to scatter them, but it's too painful to have them sitting on a shelf here, either. I think with her grandfather is the best place for now.

Hello, Im really sorry to hear about your loss of the twin boys. Not having personally experienced this so I am not sure what I would have done. Probably same as you.
I was wondering though, how come you never mention about your other son Luke?

Well, you will know what to do when the time comes. If you are okay with the way it is now, then so be it. You know, if you bury Ben, its not all a loss, he is in your heart always.


For a few months, my dad's ashes were knocking around in the trunk (or boot, for you Brits) of my mom's car. It's nice that he was getting out and about, because he'd been semi-housebound for a while before his death, but my sister insisted that Dad get out of the car and into her house. It still makes me laugh that he was in trunk. (His death was a sad thing, but it was also a relief in some ways, so the dark humor comes more easily. Losing a baby, I am sure, would be impossible to joke about.)

A few years later, when my grandma (my dad's mother) finally died (she was 94), we had my dad's ashes buried with her coffin, so now his cremains (damn, I forgot Julie's darkly humorous term for the ashes) are in the same cemetery plot as both of his parents.

My dear cousin L. lost her mom last year. Her mom wanted to be buried, not cremated, and they bought a cemetery plot very close to L.'s house. She visits every week. She'd planned to order a headstone/marker for the one-year anniversary of her mom's death, but when it came time to order it, she just couldn't do it. It seems too final that way, and it would make her too sad to see a stone with her mom's date of death on it. So it's just a grassy patch with a flower holder. Maybe in another year or two, she'll feel ready to take that step, but she's too raw now.

Don't pressure yourself to do anything with Ben's ashes before you're emotionally ready to, Tertia. There is no timetable and there are no rules. If you want to keep them in the closet forever, there is no reason not to. If you and Marko plan to be buried, or to have your ashes buried rather than scattered, maybe Ben's ashes could be laid to rest with you many years from now. There's a certain beauty and devotion to that. (Also? This is making me cry, friend.)

{{Tertia}} I think that people who have gotten to live life have somewhere they'd like to "be" when they pass on. At the very least, if you know that your loved one adored the beach, it's a peaceful feeling to put them somewhere they were happy, or where you can have good memories of them. My wish for when I die is to be scattered in the park that I played in with my brothers when I was little. I learned to swing on the swings there, we'd play in the (sewer-fed!) creek, sneak treats from the corner store..I even got my first kiss there! It's where I was happy, and my family will know that too when the time comes.

Ben knew only his mommy and daddy. It's no wonder you feel most comfortable keeping him with you. If that ever changes, you'll know.

(I have to go cry now)

My mom died several states away from me and I journeyed to retrieve her ashes and then to fly them to her memorial services across the country. As it turned out it was the first day of the terror alert here in the US and the airline required that I hand carry my mothers ashes onto the plane and keep them on my lap. "Things can and do shift in the overhead bin". The national guard was out in full force and required me to open my mom's ashes when they were doing a search of the passengers. The young soldier was not amused when I suggested that he could sift through them if he wanted to, but I wasn't! My mom had a wicked sense of humor and she would have been loved the expression on his face. That said, her ashes were placed in the family cemetery next to her parents, her brothers and her sister in the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains where she was raised.
Tertia, take your time. Talk with Marco about planning something very far in the future when you are both ready. A bench for him at the park, where you can put his ashes if you decide to do so. This may comfort Marco now and give him a place to grieve. Something that was a comfort to a friend of mine was a small piece of jewelry that she got at the funeral home that contained a small amount of her daughters ashes.It was very subtle and she wore it next to her heart until she was ready not to. She keeps in her jewelry box for her daughter's twin,as she has said that she may like to wear it at her wedding ( they were identical twins). The necklace is a little ceramic locket.
I didn't think to keep a bit of my mom's ashes but I do wish that I had, somehow I think that it would comfort me to have a little bit of her here.

Tertia--this is a blog post that I recently posted on my "Thoughts and Musings from a Whino" blog. It is long but it asks the same question of myself that you are asking yourself!!

Apprehensive

There is a date coming up that I am feeling a little aprehensive and panicky about, it is the day I LOST my 2nd born, my one and only son, Anthony.

I was 22/23 weeks pregnant had had 8 ultrasounds to date, two being level 2's, went into find out what we were having and the ultrasound tech found water on the brain, to date we have NO idea what caused it. He did have a two vessel cord which could lead to birth defects but my dr does not believe that is what caused it.

This was a chance pregnancy all in its own and to be honest I didn't feel really right about the pregnancy from the start, I was very aprehensive. It took a year and fertility meds to have my daughter and they never thought I would get pregnant on my own.

So on February 10th Anthony Douglas Montefesco was born into this world a little small and NOT breathing, I still DO NOT know his weight but he was going to be a tall little lad as he was already 9 inches long at that point.

Originally I was not going to do anything with his little body, I just couldn't and then god must have had other plans as he always does. 6 weeks later Anthony was still at the hospital they hadn't done anything with his body, so I had him cremated and I still have his ash's in my hope chest as I don't want to part with them but on the other hand he should be released free into God's waiting hands, I realize his soul is in heaven but his body is still here with me.

I will always love you and will miss everything about you, everything I could have or would have done with you. I miss the life we would have lead, and most importantly I will always miss the kiss's and hugs that should have been.

-------********I am still pondering this question in my head,today March 3, 2008, do I spread his ashe's, do I have them buried, what do I do, do I just keep them in my hope chest in his memory box for the rest of my life so someone else has to decide what to do with his ash's as I can't bare the thougth of making the decision.? I don't have an answer for you, I still go with the one day at a time thing and one of these days I will wake up and make that decision, in the meantime I guess I am just not ready.

Good Luck!!

This conversation has reminded me of the intense grief I felt after my first pregnancy ended in a failed miscarriage (D & C needed) at 10 weeks. Not knowing if I could ever become pregnant again really made me panic when I had nothing to show that the pregnancy had happened or mattered. The doctor didn't give me the ultrasound photo that indicated a problem (in some stunningly bad bedside manner she folded them and put them in her pocket) and of course it isn't a situation where one talks of remains. But I remember for awhile feeling so desperate that I didn't have even one physical thing. Of course it isn't analogous to your experience with Ben, but I just wanted to say I feel where you are coming from and while you should try to find a solution that feels right to both you and Marko, do it when you are ready and in a way that honors your connection to Ben.

We have all of our babies ashes at home too. They will probably be buried with one of us. I agree with everyone above, do what feels best for you.

I have to agree with those that said to move them out of Kate's room. You don't want curious kids to accidentally spill them, then have to explain what it is.

Just an FYI for those that may someday have to go through this same thing (I wish no one would ever have to), but you can take your baby home with you (in the US) until it's time for the cremation. In our state we have a 24 hour waiting period, even for still births. We spent the night (she was born late) in the hospital, then they gave us papers to take with us and we brought her home. Then we brought her to the funeral home just before her cremation was scheduled. It was much more relaxed at home and some of our family were able to come and see her and hold her.

I know it probably sounds morbid, and it did to us before we had to face it ourselves, but it was comforting to have her with us.

Peace T

Please don't feel badly that you still want his remains with you. My brother died 28 years ago and my parents still have his ashes in their house. Even after all this time, they can't stand the thought of being separated from their little boy. They don't get him out of the closet and they know that his spirit is with God, but they can't not have him in the house.

I have a box like yours and I keep it close too. When I die, I will be cremated and my ashes and the ashes in the little box will be mixed together and we will be placed in a niche in the Cathedral of St. John the Devine in New York. We'll be together there and we'll never be able to be separated.

When my father passed away 6 weeks ago, he was cremated. His ashes are split up between my mother, my stepmother, and my grandparents. My brother and I have these little necklaces that they have put a tiny bit of ashes inside, we wear them everyday. It's a way to have him with me wherever I go, although I know it's not really him.

I have only had very very early miscarriages, so I don't speak for your experiences. And if my daughter died, I don't know. I don't know how/what I would do with the ashes.

But I can say emphatically, that it bothers me immensley that my husband and his sister have done nothing with their parents ashes (dead 8 and 4 years ago). I can't stand to think of them just stored, I thought cremation was to return the ashes to the earth. If my husband did that with my ashes I would be so angry.

My father was creamated. I kept him in a box for a year and a quarter when my sisters found out that I was unable to use the room where his ashes were. My lovely, but matter-of-fact sister took the remains out of my home that day. The following weekend, the three of us and the grand-kids drove down to the family cottage, a long time family vacation spot where he had spent any available time.

Half of his ashes were released over the lake, half of the ashes were given to my grandmother (present) to put into the family plot. (I did not want to put them there as it was unlikely I would ever see that place.) Unbeknownst to my family, I saved a handful of ash and took it to his favorite place to ponder, had my moment alone and spread the ashes there. It is in this spot that I imagine him.

We released my fathers and sisters ashes together from a yacht out a few miles from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. Now every time I drive over the bridge I look out towards the big blue sea and think of them. I miss them but I know for our family it was the right thing to do.

Reading these posts and hearing the stories I hear as a chaplain in hospice just confirms: people feel very differently about this question. No cookie-cutter answer! I hope you and Marko can talk about how you both feel and come to a place where both feel OK.

Oh Tertia,

Your post opens up so many memories. Our little girl was stillborn at term and it was so so hard. We got her cremated a few days later and decided that that Christmas we would take her ashes up to the family holiday house. This is a place that is close to Dh and my heart. It is also somewhere that embodies family to us as the extended family spends time there everywhere. We are peaceful with our decision to have her ashes buried there.

Tertia, there is no right or wrong answers about what you should do with Ben's ashes. One day you will know what to do with them, but until then, hang on to them.

Honestly, I can't think of where else his ashes belong. No need to defend it.

Tertia, although I have not walked in your shoes (had a very early miscarriage, no infertility) your post made utter, utter sense to me. DebbieS said it so well. Of course you want to keep your little baby by your side. That is the only place a tiny baby wants to be. All over again, I am so sorry for your loss.

You do whatever you need to do.

A friend who has lost a baby at about 4 months of age has the ashes in a very pretty box/urn on a shelf in the living room beside a photo of him. It doesn't look like a somber memorial, but like a treasured family keepsake (for lack of a better word). I would find that too hard to see every day, but they find it comforting.

There is no "right" or "wrong" thing to do with his remains. Nor is there a "right" or "wrong" amount of time to decide what to do with them. If you decide to keep them your whole life that is fine too... If it were me I would imagine I would choose to keep them for the rest of my life and then have them join me in my final resting place.

Oh, Tertia. Haven't read all the comments, though Lauren's up near the top really struck me.

Many in my family have been cremated, thankfully, I am talking about older rather than younger generations -- easier when it is within the "natural order," the passing of the generations.

I have a great uncle all or some of whose ashes I believe sat on his sister's mantlepiece. I am not sure what became of them when she died; I know her ashes were buried in 3 different locations, each significant to her. I found splitting "her" up sort of troubling when it happened (not sure if this was her expressed wish or not), but have come to peace with it. Each location was lovely, and appropriate for her.

I do have a friend who I believe has kept her deceased husband's ashes with her, though I am not sure of that.

In short, I think it is perfectly natural, healthy, reasonable, for you to keep Ben's ashes for as long as you want (including throughout your lifetime). I hope you and Marko have found or can find an arrangement that is appropriate for both of you, though, because his wishes count too, of course.

We buried our boy in a cemetary about an hour away from home. Last time we visited was his third "birthday" Sept 21, taking his new baby sister to meet him. We used to go a lot more often, and we do go when the need strikes (I'm the one to usually bring it up) but, then again, he's not there anymore, is he. I often wish we had cremated him instead and he could be home with us always. I, too, see nothing at all wrong with you wanting to keep Ben's ashes with you.

My grandmother died well over 10 years ago, and my mother still can't bring herself to pick out a headstone for the grave. We had her cremated, and her ashes have been in a little purple floral box in the china cabinet ever since then. Sometimes we make light to make ourselves feel better, like sitting a Santa hat on the box or opening the cabinet doors so she can get some air. Even though we do those things, we still can't bring ourselves to move her anywhere else. I'm sure she'd love to be sprinkled in the ocean, or helping a tree grow in the park. We're just not ready to let go. I understand completely, Tertia. Keep Ben close for as long as you need to, even if that ends up being forever. He's part of the family this way!

I can't bear to part with my cat's ashes, I can totally understand how hard it is to part with a childs.

It sounds like you are already doing a "wonderful thing" with Ben's ashes, by keeping them close to you.

Aw, hell Tersh I dunno. I've never lost any family members who were close to me except for my grandfather, and he left a widow (not my grandmother, who died several years before he married my "step-grandma," a lovely woman who made his last fifteen years so, so happy). He had buried my grandmother's ashes in a sealed container in his garden, but after re-marrying (and staying in the same house) decided that was awkward and had a custom ground-plaque made with the family name, and three smaller plaques that went under it, one to the far right with my grandmother's name and birth/death dates on it, and two more that he stored under his garden shed, one for him with everything but the death date filled in, and one for his now-widow. When he died we all went to the cemetery; it sounds terrible but Grandad had a real obsession with the Weather Channel in his last years, and one of my cousins joked that now he was "up there" playing "drop-and-drag" (his other great love was computers) with the weather map. The sun was out when we headed outside, but dark clouds rolled in the very moment we arrived at the right spot. The closer we got to the gravesite the tighter Grandad's widow held the container with his ashes in it, and after holding herself together throughout the funeral she broke down entirely when the cemetery caretaker uncovered the hole and held out his hands for the container. Immediately it began raining buckets, the most torrential downpour I've ever seen, but a warm rain; we all dashed for shelter to see if it would blow over but pretty soon the hole had filled with water, and finally Grandad's widow stopped crying and said "I guess he wasn't ready to go in there yet, I'll just...take him home for a while." It's been more than a year and it hasn't been done; my mother and her siblings are too busy squabbling over the estate to much care, but I am so glad for my "step-grandma" that she got to take him home, because I could tell she really didn't want to let go of him just yet. Maybe it'll wait for when she is ready to join him and someone puts them both in there together. Do what feels right to you; I have not lost a child but recently when my youngest was being tested for MPS (something that kills before the age of five) by our geneticist I never got as far as picturing what I might do with the remains, only that it would take some strong men and a lot of Valium to pry the body out of my arms if it came to that. I don't see anything at all wrong with keeping him with you if you can't bear to part with him; I have also seen the "Life Gems" website (I saw a news story on them and couldn't quite believe it, so went looking)...on one hand it seems like a lovely idea, perhaps to make a mother-and-child pennant with Ben's little gem as the child, but I think I'd be too afraid to lose it. I think this is one of those questions where as long as you are the one who answers it there's no "wrong" answer.

The comments are really just to painful to read. But I totally get where you are coming from. Keep them close. Someday you may change your mind, but why push it?

It's been five years since our premature twins died, and we still have their ashes in our bedroom. Originally we were so grief-stricken and in shock that we didn't know what to do with them. We considered putting them in a columbarium at the nearby cathedral, but we didn't have any close ties to the place and knew there was a chance we'd be moving. There was no special place that jumped out at us. Nothing felt right or meaningful enough. So we put the ashes in a nice urn which is on my husband's dresser. Their memory box is on my dresser. I don't think it's our permanent solution but it feels right for now. We recently joined a church near our house that just built a columbarium in a pretty outdoor garden. We may eventually place them there, but we're not ready yet. I think when the time and place is right we'll know.

Tertia, I cannot even fathom the depth of your sadness. But I will tell you that I wouldn't want to part with my child's ashes, either. For goodness sake, our beloved yellow lab died almost two years ago, and his ashes still sit in my closet. The thought of scattering them to the ocean - as I had planned - is to painful to bear. I figure when the time is right, I will know what to do. And if not, forever they will stay next to my fancy shoes that he once enjoyed chewing on.

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