By Pauline Morris
The very nice lady at the undertakers handed me a box. I walked out to my car and carefully placed it
in the boot. I didn’t open that box because I already knew what it contained – my mum’s ashes.
I took them home, put them in the spare room and then wondered ‘just what am I to do with them?’
Let me rewind. My mum was a firm believer that families should discuss death, dying, funerals and
wills. And so we had. A very determined and organised woman, we were sure Mum would have it all
This was a comfort because, when she became ill, Mum’s health deteriorated very quickly and there
was no opportunity to have those bedside discussions we had always thought we would have time
for. Where I thought we would have days if not weeks to plan, we suddenly had no time at all.Slipping into an unconsciousness she didn’t recover from, she took all those discussions with her.
We then dug out her will. In many ways she had been very clear and the funeral planning was all
there. A church service with her chosen hymns, donation to a named charity in lieu of flowers,
But, as we sat together and read the instructions, we came across this line ‘cremation followed by scattering of the ashes’. That was it – no direction as to exactly where or how she wanted that to happen.
As a family we pondered this one. Did she have a favourite place with a deep meaning for her? Was there a popular holiday destination? When she had jokingly said ‘scatter my ashes on the roses because ash is good for the garden’ did she mean it?
Which explains why the ashes took up residence in my spare room.
Some of my family couldn’t have the ‘what next?’ conversation, it was just too painful for them.
Others were happy to just leave it to me – but I didn’t feel I should make that choice alone.
In the event one of my brothers came up with a solution. He was heading off on holiday and visiting
the very place where my parents had met more than 50 years ago. He offered to take mum’s ashes
and scatter them wherever he felt appropriate.
I hope that was the right decision. In the absence of any detail from my mum we had to make the
best choice we could. But I do sometimes wonder if she’s looking down at her rose bed wishing we had scattered her there.