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Mon May 7, 2012, 01:14 AM

I touched my husband's ashes last night.

I had not opened the urn in the eight months since he died. I couldn’t face the stark reality of his beloved body’s reduction to a few pounds of powdered carbon. Somehow, I convinced myself last night when I couldn’t sleep that maybe I was ready to take that step. For one thing, I have been making plans for a scattering ceremony in August; I knew I needed to see and touch his ashes privately before I would be able to see and touch them publicly. I broke down last August when the funeral director handed the box to me. The realization that George’s entire physical being now fit into a 6” x 6” x 6” cube almost knocked me off my feet. I had to sit down fast to keep from falling. When I carried the box home and placed it safely on the mantel, I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to open and examine the contents.

And now I have seen and touched and smelled George’s cremains, and I got through it--although my tears fell like rain drops into the open plastic bag. I had read that human ashes are heavy, like course sand. His ashes were heavy, and gray/white. I picked some up and let it run through my fingers. I imagined his spirit talking me through this experience, reminding me that even in this radically changed form, his body still was beloved to me. I felt myself caressing his ashes with my fingers--and picking up small pieces of bone that had escaped the fire. I remember thinking: “George was larger than life. How is it possible that I am holding his ashes and fragments of his bones in my hand?” Even as I cried, I marveled at the strangeness.

I leaned down and smelled the not unpleasant scent of the ashes and felt a familiar wave of love and longing wash over me. I found that there was nothing scary or creepy or even devastating about seeing and touching George’s ashes. I have already been devastated by his loss from my life, and there is nothing worse that this or any other part of the process can do to me. Touching his ashes was sobering, but not devastating.

As I put the plastic bag back into the urn and tightened the screws that held the lid securely in place, I thanked my sweet George for loving me until he died (and beyond, if my prayers and wishes are true). In life, he was a lover of women, and gave his heart freely. I was not the first or only love that he had known in his life, but I was the last. His ashes are on my mantel, and mine alone. I will return them to our Mother Earth in August, but for now, they sit on my mantel. I no longer fear them. They are as beloved to me as every particle and every manifestation of him has ever been or will ever be. It is still him, even now.

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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply I touched my husband's ashes last night. (Original post)
rhiannon55 May 2012 OP
LineReply .
NYC_SKP May 2012 #1
rhiannon55 May 2012 #5
snappyturtle May 2012 #2
rhiannon55 May 2012 #4
LineReply .
CaliforniaPeggy May 2012 #3
rhiannon55 May 2012 #6
babylonsister May 2012 #7
rhiannon55 May 2012 #12
Ken Burch May 2012 #8
rhiannon55 May 2012 #13
Ken Burch May 2012 #23
UpInArms May 2012 #9
rhiannon55 May 2012 #14
pacalo May 2012 #10
rhiannon55 May 2012 #15
yellerpup May 2012 #11
rhiannon55 May 2012 #16
livetohike May 2012 #17
rhiannon55 May 2012 #18
auntAgonist May 2012 #19
rhiannon55 May 2012 #21
Rhiannon12866 May 2012 #20
rhiannon55 May 2012 #22
DesertFlower Jun 2012 #24
orleans Jun 2012 #25
Ron Obvious Jul 2012 #26
babydollhead Nov 2013 #27

Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:26 AM

1. .

 

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:52 AM

5. Hugs back

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:27 AM

2. I find your story very comforting. I think you were very brave. nt

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Response to snappyturtle (Reply #2)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:47 AM

4. Thank you, snappyturtle

I had to push myself to open the box, but I knew I had to do it. I just suddenly felt like it was time.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:44 AM

3. .

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #3)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:54 AM

6. Thank you Peggy

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 03:35 AM

7. Thank you

...you write beautifully, and your George was a very lucky man to have so much love.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #7)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:39 AM

12. Thank you, babylonsister

Coming from you, that's high praise.

George and I were both lucky to have found each other. We had 21 beautiful years together; so many people never get to experience such love. My heart is broken, but I am so grateful for those years with him.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 04:14 AM

8. Been through a scattering...and all the feelings you went through.

 

So sorry again for your loss...and in admiration of your strength in getting through this.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #8)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:41 AM

13. It's awful, isn't it?

I'm sorry for your loss, as well.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Reply #13)

Fri May 11, 2012, 03:46 PM

23. As the years pass, the pain fades

 

You don't "get over it"...but, at some point, you notice that the sun continues to rise, the birds to sing, the band next door to play hopelessly out of tune...and your life resumes. It's different...but it's still life.

Be well, and take the time that you need to grieve and to heal. It can only happen at the pace with which you need it to happen.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 04:15 AM

9. i am so very sorry



You are so incredibly brave

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Response to UpInArms (Reply #9)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:42 AM

14. ...

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 04:59 AM

10. This was so beautifully said.

Take care, rhiannon.

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Response to pacalo (Reply #10)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:42 AM

15. Thank you, pacalo

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 08:10 AM

11. In deepest sympathy.

Your strength is inspiring. The love between you and George will resonate forever.

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Response to yellerpup (Reply #11)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:44 AM

16. Oh, yellerpup

Thank you.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Mon May 7, 2012, 03:43 PM

17. Such a beautiful post

for you rhiannon55 and for the journey you are on. May all the good memories wash over you.

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Response to livetohike (Reply #17)

Mon May 7, 2012, 05:08 PM

18. Thank you so much

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Wed May 9, 2012, 01:37 AM

19. What an amazing and loved filled experience and so very generous

of you to share that love with us.

Thank you. May you find some added peace and joy as the days pass.


aA
kesha


PS. I think George must have been a very lucky man indeed to have known a love such as yours for him.

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Response to auntAgonist (Reply #19)

Wed May 9, 2012, 07:13 PM

21. Thank you so much, aA

I love this group--there is so much love and support here.

George WAS lucky, but no more than I was. We were SO good for each other. I miss him so much.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Wed May 9, 2012, 01:43 AM

20. Oh, boy... I was a little afraid to read this, but it was so beautifully expressed.

Kudos on your strength for facing this and getting through it. I admire both your courage and strength. I couldn't help agreeing that George is still with you and thinking that he must be very proud.

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Response to Rhiannon12866 (Reply #20)

Wed May 9, 2012, 07:20 PM

22. I'm not surprised, Rhiannon; I was a little afraid to post it.

I know it's a dark subject, and I thought that people might not want to read such intimate details about human ashes. But I posted this here at DU and on Facebook (many of my Facebook friends knew George), and the responses have all been positive and affirming.

Thank you for your kind words.

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 04:00 AM

24. my husband passed 5/27/12. his ashes arrived

last friday in a marble urn. the bag inside is sealed but i'm sure it can be opened. i want to touch them, but i'm afraid i'll spill them all over.

i thought i would feel better having his ashes, but when they arrived i felt worse. i sat in his recliner -- the last place he sat before entering the hospital. i started to cry.

he left this house on 4/10 and arrived back in an urn.

i sleep with one of his shirts over my pillowcase.

i've always believed in cremation, but afterward it sort of freaked me out. i remembered how beautiful his body was especially when he was young.

my friend michael passed in 2001. part of his ashes were scattered over our property. we hadn't built the house yet. maybe i'll have part of john scattered over the property. it's too soon to decide what i want to do.

right now i'm trying to get through each day. we were together almost 42 years. he was my true love and my soul mate.

several times i've sent him e-mails. wonder if he can read them wherever he is.

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Response to DesertFlower (Reply #24)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 05:19 AM

25. i'm very sorry for you

this is the hardest time we go through when someone we love transitions out of the physical world. (i'm still grieving for my mom who passed over two and a half years ago; she went to the hospital and twenty two days later i brought her ashes home--on my birthday. it's unbelievable how quickly life can change/alter/skew)

if you are undecided as to what to do with his ashes then just wait...there is no rush. think about it. decide later. it can wait.

comfort yourself for now. talk to him--just because we can't hear them doesn't mean they can't hear us. i'm sure they do--and i'm sure they listen to what we say to them. he may not be able to check his email but that doesn't mean he isn't standing behind you, reading over your shoulder as you write to him.

when we live with someone their physical absence is a stark and constant reminder that our life is never going to be the same. and if life was good, we grieve for that too.

"Death is not the end. It is the beginning. No one you are close to ever dies. There is life everlasting; there is no such thing as death….Death is not a termination but a transition." --george anderson

love doesn't die--it's the bond that keeps us connected--from this world to the next. i truly believe our beloved ones do all they can to stay and comfort us as long as we need them to. if i could hear my mother, and you could hear your husband, they would probably both be saying the same thing: "i never left you."

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Thu Jul 19, 2012, 11:49 PM

26. You're a poet...

 

You're a poet... I have tears in my eyes, that was so beautiful... If anything happened to my wife, I wouldn't survive her long...

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Response to rhiannon55 (Original post)

Tue Nov 5, 2013, 09:21 PM

27. i just read this beautiful post

and I thank you. your words ring so true and I am hoping that you are continuing to unfold and that your relationship with your husband has continued, even tho it is changed. I wish you continued peace. and awe at the wonder. and that you know you are loved.

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