The internet is constantly full of advice, it seems. Blogs and tweets and articles written by a variety of folks, from experts to duffers (and me!) covering nearly every topic ad nauseum–and funeral and deathcare issues are no different.
The same old ideas get recycled, reblogged, reposted, sometimes it seems by folks who might write about coupons today, funeral issues tomorrow, and Iggy Azalea the next day–with very little true value added in to the recycled content, all in the hopes of increasing click-throughs and pageviews and ad revenue. (At the moment, it appears we’re due for a fresh revisiting of the eco-pod burial idea, which is super sleek and modern-looking, but fairly awful natural burial practice, truth be told–it does make for a pretty, eye-catching graphic to repost on Facebook/Twitter and bring in traffic though, does it not?!)
This recent article on Modern Loss was a breath of fresh air as far as that goes. Way beyond the usual generic ‘how to scatter ashes 101’ trope, author Tre Miller Rodriguez offered her first-person, real-life, hard-won wisdom, gained over 5 years of experiences in spreading her husband’s ashes in The 9 Things No One Tells You About Scattering Ashes.
Among the more intriguing, sensible, and refreshingly unique suggestions she offers:
There will be bones. When I unscrewed the urn containing Alberto’s ashes, I expected a small box of soft campfire ash. I encountered a plastic bag with 6 pounds of coarse sand and sharp bone fragments. Not sure if anything prepares you to see someone you love reduced to a bag of cement mix, but the knowledge that cremated remains look nothing like ashes is a starting point.
One-time only? On the Fourth of July 2009, I didn’t realize that spreading Alberto’s ashes around the world would become my grief ritual — yet I instinctively took only a few tablespoons of him to the lake. Ask yourself if this should be a one-and-done ceremony? If you move to a new city, would it be meaningful to scatter ashes nearby? Would another family member want to keep some for herself? If your answer to any of these questions is “I don’t know” or “maybe,” don’t release all the ashes.
A good friend + a Ziploc bag. If you decide to scatter only a portion of the ashes now, ask a close friend who isn’t squeamish to come over before you transfer ashes into a sealable plastic bag. The reality of what you are doing may trigger strong emotions, so it’s smart to have a pal who can either take over the transfer or support you through the process.
Flower power. If you’re releasing ash into a body of water, buy or pick fresh flowers to release in tandem. This enables you to visually follow the ash flow and makes the ceremony slightly less melancholy. De-stem the flowers in advance and place them in a sealable bag with a wet paper towel.
Sticky. Ash sticks to skin, and when your hands are covered in your loved one’s ashes, wiping them on your jeans might feel a tad disrespectful. If you’re releasing ashes somewhere without easy access to water, bring a bottle of water and dry paper towels for clean-up afterward.
I’d love for you go and check out the rest of the insights she gained over years of sharing her husband’s ashes with the world; more importantly, I hope her personal sharing makes you think, and maybe spurs ideas for you and your plans.
Do we need to talk, or maybe change (or create) YOUR plan?