RSS Feed Print
He's gone
Posted: Friday, December 14, 2018 11:19 PM
Joined: 3/16/2016
Posts: 82

After being diagnosed when he was 77, my dad passed away a few months short of his 83rd birthday. He took his last breath November 25, at 8:45pm. I saw it happen. No matter how many people you talk to, no matter how many articles you read, you can never be prepared for the actual feeling of watching someone slip away. I now understand the meaning of waxen skin, I now understand the meaning of lifeless eyes.

 He declined very quickly, two weeks prior he stopped walking. His sentences became severely broken and he stopped moving his limbs 2 days before. He stopped talking 1 day before. He was on oxygen the last few days and was given morphine a few hours before he passed. 

He was cremated, as per his wishes. I honestly never liked the idea cremation (couldn't go against his wishes, however). I look at his ashes and it's so hard to wrap my brain around the idea that it used to be a full person. We plan on spreading his ashes in the ocean in January but I don't know if I'm ready yet. I'm feeling almost my complete self these days but it's when I look at the ashes that I start to feel all sorts of emotions that I can't explain. How do you cope with the idea or your loved one being in ash form?

Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2018 1:56 PM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 910

Bethany, I am so sorry for your loss.  I too was there for my mother's last breath and it was truly surreal.  You are right, nobody can ever explain this or prepare us.  It sounds like your father passed quickly and was in no pain and this is the best we could want for our LOs.

Please give yourself time to grieve. You are probably in a bit of shock right now and although you mention your complete self, don't be surprised if situations come up where you are at a loss emotionally.  I was tough and strong for the first 3 months and then fairly weak for the next 3 and now I feel I am starting to pull it together.

I think the sooner you spread the ashes, the sooner you can move on from that stage.  Having the ashes with you (especially when that wasn't your cup of tea) can weigh heavy.  Spreading them where you think is best will help and then you can feel his soul is at peace.  Take care, we all get it here in this thread.

Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2018 2:50 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18368

I, on the other hand, have my husbands ashes at home in his flight bag. Maybe it is getting time to get them to Arlington...sigh.
Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2018 6:48 PM
Joined: 7/28/2017
Posts: 176

Hi Bethany,

First, my condolences: I hope you take comfort in this community grieving and loving and sharing around you. It helps me sometimes. I'm so very sorry for what you and your family has been through. My mom passed very similarly to your Dad: I too held her in my arms as she took her last breath and life slipped away. Later I realized her soul had already left, and as awful as the swift and horrible progression to death was this fall, I believe she just plain decided (somewhere in her "right mind") that she was done and she wouldn't keep on living the way she was. She passed November 27th at the age of 78.

There was a time when I felt exactly as you seem to about cremation. My husband wants to be cremated, which I have tried to argue him out of (I had a romantic notion about our bones being together throughout eternity, but he thinks caskets are a rip-off, which he's right about, of course).  

Anyway, we (Mom's kids) were surprised when she told us she wanted to be cremated but we followed her wishes. We had the urn buried next to my father, and I don't know how I'd feel about scattering them: the thought scares me a little, but then I remember a September whale watching tour we went on. It was a bright calm day, and there whales and seals and baby calf whales, and if I had had to scatter her on a day like that, I would have felt at peace doing so. We are all atoms and stardust, as they say (as science actually says), and our souls do not belong in our bodies.

By the way, I actually asked for a bit of my mom's ashes to be made into a locket (which the funeral home offered) and I'm grateful for its weight on my chest and that I can touch it anytime. I made my brother (who was with me when I made the request) promise not to tell anyone. It gives me some comfort as I wait to feel her spirit.

I send you a hug: I'm sorry for your loss, so much. I'm feeling pretty anguished tonight, so I come her for comfort (but I can never stay too long, as it can overwhelm, too). I hope you find some comfort here.

Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2018 11:17 PM
Joined: 5/2/2014
Posts: 761


I am so sorry for the loss of your father. Watching our loved ones pass is very hard and it stays with us forever. I'm glad your father had you by his side when he passed. I hope you can take the time to grieve and that you find some peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I agree with Rocky that the sooner you spread his ashes, the better it will be for you. I have no problem with cremation and those are my wishes. My parents were also cremated and I have ashes in urns from both of them. Having them with me brings me a sense of peace but every one is different and that's okay.


Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2018 7:32 PM
Joined: 3/16/2016
Posts: 82

Thank you so much everyone, I greatly appreciate it
Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 10:06 AM
Joined: 10/23/2013
Posts: 45


I'm sorry for your loss. My father just passed on Dec 10 and so I completely understand what you are going through. We also had him cremated and I have his ashes. My sister has had some of them put in a small locket. I'm not sure that I want to follow in her footsteps, but I might get a locket made from his fingerprint, which they took prior to the cremation. We have not yet decided what to do with the ashes, as he did not leave any instructions. I've read others say that it is best to scatter them as soon as possible so that you can move on. I prefer to add a counterpoint: make sure you will be at peace with whatever you do. There is nothing more irreversible than scattering them and then wanting them back. 

The ashes are simply the physical remains of your father, but you will have the photos and the memories and the laughter to remember forever. 

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. 

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 4:14 PM
Joined: 11/9/2017
Posts: 306

I'm so sorry for your loss. 
Many people keep the ashes in a bag enclosed in an urn of their choosing. We choose a wooden box with a meaningful symbol on the top. My mom stated she wanted to be cremated (I did not like this but it was her wish) and that I get her remains. She said she didn't care what I did with them as long as I got them. My dad expressed the wish that his ashes be mixed with hers. 

I insisted he put that in writing so I would face no resistance. I may eventually place them in a cemetery or elsewhere; I doubt I will scatter them, but I might  

Scattering them, burying them, or anything else would not help me "move on." Nothing helps with that. 

Whatever you choose to do is okay. It probably won't change the grieving process. 

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 7:29 PM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 2296

I'm so sorry for the loss of your dad.
Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 7:53 PM
Joined: 1/8/2016
Posts: 365


I'm sorry for your loss and although he is at rest it doesn't change how much you want him here. But, this disease is beyond horrible. Know that he's whole again and watching over you.

Now, it's time for you to heal and it will take time. So, as others have said be kind to yourself and don't beat yourself up about the what ifs.

As for his ashes, I didn't have any experience with that until my FIL passed in Sept. He was cremated and my BIL had his ashes placed in a biodegradable urn (made of salt). After his wake my husband, BIL & his wife's brothers sailed to a nearby light house and placed the urn in the ocean.

A friend of my husbands had his father's ashes placed into a tattoo in his memory. And, my husband would have done that but it was too late the urn was sealed. So, instead he's getting a tattoo of the light house & ocean where they placed him.

So, after learning this I also found out that your ashes can be planted with a tree. Kind of a nice idea.

I wish you well and pray for strength.


Eric L
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 12:06 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1286

I wandered into this section of the message boards on a whim last night. My MIL is still alive and kicking (sometimes literally), so we aren't quite in the same boat as most of you are. I know this post was from almost a month ago, but I'm hope that sharing a personal experience with cremation might help.

Back in 2005, I lost both of my grandmothers within 12 days of each other. Both were cremated. My paternal grandmother was cremated for practical reasons. She had decided a few years earlier that she wanted to be buried in the same cemetery as her parents in North Dakota. We live in southern CA. She was a very frugal lady and since cremation was the most cost effective way to transport her, we figured that it was the plan that she would most approve. Plus, she passed in June and we didn't have her burial service until August. I did tell my Dad that I did want to spread some of her ashes in her favorite place on her farm (she bought a farm in North Dakota when she was 18 and we've had it in the family since). Most of her cremains are are buried in an urn in the cemetery with her family. A little bit of her is at her farm. I moved into her house after she passed and kept her ashes in the master bedroom of her house until we moved her to her final resting place.

My maternal grandmother was cremated as well. She wasn't a particularly religious lady and we didn't have a service for her. My grandfather was cremated many years earlier and had his ashes spread at sea by my uncles, so they never bought any plots or anything like that to begin with. I'm pretty sure that her ashes are still sitting on top of a book in my aunt's linen closet. I think at one point, my Mom and her siblings had considered doing a covert mission to spread her ashes on the grounds of the library in their hometown (Grandma was a voracious reader) but it never happened.

I think with this kind of stuff, it's just a matter of what you are comfortable with.