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is it odd for someone to ask what you did with a loved one's remains if they weren't buried?
Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 4:28 AM
Joined: 11/23/2019
Posts: 1

My Mom passed away six months ago at the age of 86 after a month in hospice.  She had dementia as well as several other chronic/progressive health issues.  As her disease progressed, she became paranoid and thought I was trying to make her think she was going crazy.  She became more introverted and talked to very few friends.  I'm realizing that she may have insinuated to her few friends that there was elder abuse, which is upsetting.  There was no elder abuse.

Mom expressed that she didn't want a funeral or memorial service, and I respected her final wishes when she passed.  She had so few friends at the end of her life and very few offered any type of support, which is sad.  I just had an odd email exchange with one of her friends.  This friend hadn't reached out for a year or more; and, unfortunately, I suspect that my Mom didn't speak very highly of me to him during her cognitive decline.  I messaged him back to let him know of my Mom's passing and got a short, frigid response.  He asked if my Mom had a resting place next to my Dad.  If so, he would like to know where it is.  And if she was not buried, he would like to inquire about the disposition of her remains.  If he wants to pay his final respects, it seems like an odd way to go about it.  I don't expect a lot of sympathy, but it would have been a nice gesture to offer condolences.  I lost my Mom after all.
I'm trying to decide how to respond to his inquiry, if at all.  I have both of my parents ashes, and maybe that's all I should reply with.  Any advice?  Thank you!

dutiful deb
Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 10:43 AM
Joined: 1/1/2012
Posts: 1912

Hi, yakoubou,

You have my sympathy on the loss of your Mom.  A lot of us seem to have the same kinds of experiences, with people pulling away during the years of decline, only to resurface with negativity or questionable motives after the passing of our loved ones. 

I don't know  your beliefs or other circumstances, but I know what I'd say to someone like the person who e-mailed you: "Mom's final resting place is with Dad. After all the years of their hard work, and after all the years of painful illness, loneliness,  and unspeakable loss caused by dementia, Mom and Dad are resting together in heaven. They are together again at last, at peace.  I wish their friends had been there to see them off to their final resting places, but as that didn't happen, there is still a way for those who knew them to pay their respects. Dementia touches so many lives, and none of us are immune to its effects." I would then name an organization that supports dementia research or caregiving support, or the name of a facility with dementia or hospice patients, along with a suggestion to pay final respects by making a small financial donation or purchasing personal care items for the residents.  For example, "Mom resided in ABC Nursing home during the last years of her life. While I visited daily and ensured her daily needs were met, many residents did not receive visits from loved ones and would love to have anyone come read with them, donate warm socks, or sit with them during meals." 

If people truly care, the end of our loved one's life will not be about them, but about respecting the memory of the person they supposedly cared about. 

Posted: Sunday, November 24, 2019 2:05 PM
Joined: 4/1/2014
Posts: 5213

I would tell them about your mother's final wishes and that you cherish your parents cremains in your home. Ask if they are asking because they want to pay their final respects, and if that is the case, ask them to do as dutiful deb suggested.

 Don't allow this man or anyone else make you feel defensive. What they think is of no matter, but if it bothers you, push back and tell them exactly what you told us. Maybe it will teach them not to desert the next friend who has dementia or becomes sick.

 I removed any Facebook "friend" who did not acknowledge my mom's passing. And once my Christmas cards go out and if I don't get a call or card from anyone who does not acknowledge my loss, they will be off my Christmas card list as well. Life is too short to waste time on people who don't care about your feelings and well being. There are plenty of people who went above and beyond helpful after mom died, and it is those friends I want in my life. Plus, I learned a very good lesson- I've always been thoughtful- but I want to be more like those friends who went above and beyond. They are the true friends and supporters.



Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2019 12:58 PM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 939

yakoubou, my guess is that your mom's friends were close to her age?  If so, that generation can be a little tweaked.  No one is entitled to know what you did and why you did it.  Its up to you how you wish to respond to such questions.

For example, my mom had a niece who was a terror.  She was intrusive, argumentative and most likely mentally ill.  When I arranged my mom's funeral she kept calling to find out where it was, when it was, etc.  She even told me, "I know where your dad and brother are buried because I have been there before."  That was enough for me to not put an announcement in the paper and although her brother, his wife and their daughter were coming, the crazy one was not told.

My point is that no one should make you feel uncomfortable in this time and all you really have to say is that the information is personal and you hope they have a good day.  Then hang up.  At least that is what I would do.