Thoughts On Cremation
My brother-in-law was not 'laid out' and had no viewing. I can understand this is a personal preference for some people. There was only a picture of him at the funeral home. There was no chance to say good-bye or see him one last time. I felt a lack of closure.
Maybe this is because I was raised in a time when the funeral process was a long, drawn-out three day affair. If the person was unfortunate enough to die in the dead of winter, their body was 'stored' until spring when the burial could take place. This happened to my Grandfather who died in March, but my Grandmother, who died in December, was buried after the funeral. My cousin, a priest, pulled some strings and insisted the family was not going to go through the pain of a later burial. I was thankful for that. Seeing your loved one put in the ground months later brings the pain you felt at their passing back to the forefront of your thoughts and the incredible grief is renewed.
Bill wanted to be cremated. He was not afraid of fire, like me. He was already a fireman when I met him and I've seen him go into a burning building with nothing but a damp handkerchief over his mouth and nose. Back in the day, you used what you had if it was reported that someone was still inside. I often wonder how much of his lung problems came from that sort of thing.
The main reason he wanted to be cremated was to be buried with me, and he will be when I go. He specifically instructed our daughter to put his urn "right next to your Mother's ass", and she promised. He could be pretty insistent at times, lol. Personally they could open his urn and pour his ashes over my body and it wouldn't bother me. Then, when I am dust as well, we will be forever entwined and no one could tell where he begins or ends, what is him or what is me.
My grandparents bought five plots in the 1920's when their young son died at five years old. They are buried beside him and my mother is as well. I tend all the graves, well I buy the flowers. It's usually my daughter who is down on her knees, planting and weeding. Before my mother passed, she gave me the last plot. This is where Bill and I will be. We won't be able to have a big fancy stone, just a normal sized marker that matches the others. I don't care about that. I'm sure anyone who is looking for us will find us.
I had Bill laid out. I wanted some form of closure,not only for myself, but for my kids and grand-kids, especially the ones who saw him while they were working on him at the hospital. I didn't want those to be the last images they had of their father and grandfather. I also wanted our family from out of state to have a chance to actually say good-bye, to see their brother, uncle, grandfather, brother-in-law, one last time. I'll also admit it was for me too. It was hard to let him go, so very hard and I think knowing I would see him again made making the arrangements easier. It didn't seem final somehow in the days between his death and his funeral. Sometimes it still doesn't seem final.
So here's the thing I didn't/we didn't think about when we decided on cremation. He's not gone. I don't have to drive miles to the cemetery to see him. This is both good and bad. His urn is a constant reminder of our loss. He is the last thing I see before I go to sleep and the first thing I see in the morning. My eyes go immediately to where he is. The urn is beautiful and I'm glad I didn't choose one from the funeral home, but waited a few days and found one that I loved. I had it engraved and they did a beautiful job.
I had visions of placing that surprisingly heavy urn on the seat next to me at the casino. Bill loved going to the casino. I also had horrific images of having an accident while driving the 'orange beast' and Bill's ashes ending up scattered all over the place. I considered buying a dust buster and keeping it in the truck, just in case. Okay, now bordering on insane.
I fought these ideas off. For a while I had him in the dining room where he could see his birds feeding. Again, slightly nuts. He cannot see the birds and in fact if he could see them it would be as a spirit, for there was no way he could see through that metal urn.
I took over his seat at the table as I couldn't bear to see his empty chair, but I found my eyes constantly straying to the urn beside me. A couple of times I expected him to suddenly spring out of it and tell me it was one of his sick pranks. Moving onto delusional now. (Remind me to tell you sometime what he did to me after we went to see the Exorcist - the son of a bitch!)
So, to try and solve some of these issues I redid my bedroom. God that sounds strange - my bedroom. But it still isn't. It's still ours and he's still in there with me. I gently touch the urn when I walk by. It's cold, very cold and I know my husband is not in there or it would be warm. Bill was very warm and loving. He gave the best hugs in the world. What's in there are the remains of his earthly body and I swear if he is nothing but a could of dust when I get to heaven, I'm going to be really, really pissed off.
My sister-in-law buried her husband's ashes at the cemetery. She has a beautiful bench placed there where she goes and talks to him. It's lovely, but I can't do that or I'd have to have Bill dug up to go in my casket. That seems like a huge mistake and something could go wrong, like my daughter could get sick and not be able to handle all that. Or the funeral home could refuse to agree to the plan and right now we have one willing to honor our final wishes. We were also told not to have the stone put in place prior to my death. If there are two names on it, the cemetery will try to charge us for two burials. Good grief, it will be one burial, one grave-site. Is everybody out to make a buck?
Anyway, it is what it is for me. I posted this in case you're considering cremation and keeping the ashes and urn with you. There's a very strange feeling of responsibility that goes along with that and you will find yourself possibly kissing a cold, inanimate object, talking to it and wiping away fingerprints.
Bill was not afraid of fire, and I did exactly what he wished. My lovely niece sent me a book yesterday of pictures she quietly took during and after Bill's funeral. It's amazing and so heartrendingly touching. One fits exactly the kind of man my husband was. The empty locker says it all.