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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