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My mother-in-law passed 5 1/2 years ago and her ashes are still in the box from the funeral home. That isn't so much the problem. The problem is the ashes are in "the box" in the basement under the stairs getting dusty. My husband feels his Mother is being disrespected (so do I) because her ashes have not been properly taken care of ie: in an urn, scattered or "displayed" ....how do we or how does my husband approach talking about it with his father.

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I'm gripped by all this information about regulatory matters and cremation. Wooh! - what happens if you trip and drop them? And how do the authorities get to know? I'm agog.

VS, quite right about Islam. Whereas in Hinduism cremation is mandatory, and must be done en plein air (they have special crematoria which comply with public health and safety requirements too). It's yet another reminder that what all ritual boils down to is respect: having and applying an accepted method for dealing with life. We just have to let each other get there in our own way.
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Has your husband spoken to his dad about the ashes? Is your husband the one who is upset, or are you the one who is uncomfortable? "Hey Dad, let's talk about what to do with Mom's ashes. I've got some ideas, but I'd like to know what you have in mind".
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Oh, and ex's house is on the market!
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I never met my FIL he passed before I met his son. FIL passed about 30 years ago and was cremated. The intent was to always commingle his ashes with MIL's when she passed then scattered in a location I will not publish. Susan is right this is against the law unless you obtain a permit to do so. However, governments to not sell many of these permits. Make sure you remove the tag from the cremains or you will be fined.

In the 30 years since FIL's passing, MIL has moved four times. FIL was lost more than once. But he was always found again. LOL!

MIL passed about a month ago and the funeral home cremated her, then did the mixing with FIL. They will be scattered at some point in the future, unless they are lost first. And the ashes currently reside in the house of my ex. Maybe there is one more cremains hunt in the future. ;)
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By the way, "a souvenir for the mantelpiece" sounds very disrespectful. It isn't.
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One of my reasons for preferring cremation is to avoid using land space for burial. So interring the ashes makes no sense to me. A souvenir for the mantelpiece works for me. So does scattering, but I want to keep it distinctly separate from littering or disposing of trash. But I'm cool with other people's preferences.

If one relative has the ashes and other relatives have a different idea of what should be done with those ashes, the logic thing is simply to talk about it.
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I have my dad's ashes in a nice wooden box (from the crematory) on a table. They've been there for 5 years. And I have all of my cats' and my hamster's ashes as well. I talk to my dad's ashes from time to time and I'm not at all creeped out by them. Having them nearby reminds me of my dad (and my beloved pets).

I'm an Air Force brat and I read in an excellent book (Military Brats) that military brats and career military families favor cremation because we're so used to moving around, we can take them with us. That's my view about why I do what I do.

Funny thing is, in five years, neither my brother or my mother has asked where Dad's ashes are. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. I find that weird.
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Well, since the 60's at least, its OK for Catholics to opt for cremation, as long as it is not an act of denial or faith in the Resurrection. But, just out of respect, we are supposed to have the cremains properly interred and not scattered or used as a souvenir for the mantelpiece or whatever. I guess we figure the original Designer keeps a good copy of the blueprints. :-)

Seriously, a couple religious perspectives on this:

catholicworldreport/Item/1719/changing_catholic_attitudes_about_cremation.aspx

http://reformjudaismmag.org/articles/index.cfm?id=1446

Islam generally forbids it though.
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So done with, I will have to look into the fireworks thing! That sound awesome!!!! Thanks!
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There are fireworks companies that will make "a beautiful memorial display" out of cremains, which might be a better option than shooting them out of a cannon.
You can also have cremains made into jewelry, or added to a coral reef.
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If you choose to scatter the ashes, please be aware that there may be a metal tag in the ashes that needs to be removed before you do it. (If it bothers you to go through the cremains to find it, have someone else do it - it's not a pleasant task and was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but was necessary.) I don't know where you are located, but in my state, if you scatter ashes and get caught by the DNR, there's a large fine involved. Also, if you don't remove the metal tag and the DNR finds it later, it can be traced back to you and you will be fined.

Just a tip.
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Leave the ashes alone. When he dies, you can put both in one urn and have it placed in one plot, assuming they own one plot.
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Get that cannon out and shoot em up there!
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I told my sig other that if something happens to me that I want to be cremated, to heck with what my religion dictates, it's my wish not theirs..... but I want my ashes mixed with the ashes of my dear departed cats.

I thought about where to be scattered but now I might have to rethink it... there is a resort in West Virginia where we always enjoyed hiking beautiful mountain tops.... then it dawned on me, what if he and I live to be 90... there would be no way he could hike up to the top of that mountain.

Time to think of Plan B.
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And to lighten this conversation...Mom passed in April, we are to wait for Dad to pass and then wait for the DOG to pass and then fire them all out of a cannon over the lake at the family farm, that we no longer own ! I can well imagine that the new owners will be thrilled and that no attention will be paid whatsoever when we roll a cannon through that rural town. Git Er Done!!!!
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Kazzaa, If you aren't familiar with ashes, I would suggest that you ask someone that is, to do it. Cremation remains aren't like ashes from a cigarette.
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kazzaa, welcome to the wide world of international internet!
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Gosh CM i think your brother is brave to have ashes in his room like that I think id be too scared to have anything like that in my room! I thought the whole thing with cremation was that they would be scattered somewhere wished by the deceased? I dont care just put me wherever? i know maybe when im older ill think about it but i know my brother has given me a request to scatter his ashes over his favourite lake here in Ireland so i want him to write this down soon in case anyone disagrees with it.
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Im in shock ive never heard of this before i suppose you just dont think about it when youre living in a very catholic country and cremation is rare. I agree to ask him what her and his wishes were and also like CM suggests it could be hard letting go keeping them may feel like shes still around him? mum wants to be buried "standing up" so i guess weve our work cut out for us!
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My marriage was filled with two-way respect. Even after Coy developed dementia that respect continued to be so evident that visiting nurses commented on it. That his ashes are still in the cardboard box in a velvet bag gathering dust has absolutely nothing to do with respect or disrespect. (It probably has something to do with my housekeeping, but that is another topic.)

IF one of our kids came to me and said, "It would mean a lot to me to be able to do xyz with Dad's ashes," I would probably get around to spooning out some ashes into the little butterfly urn I bought for the purpose, check to see if any other kids would like some of the ashes, and give the remains to the one who asked. IF anyone asked. You want something done with the ashes, you ask. (I suggest you leave out any reference to respect, as that might sound critical.)

I bought the little urn because I'm kind of sentimental. It has nothing to do with being respectful. But I find that each time I look at the urn I smile in memory. I guess it doesn't really matter if I actually put some ashes in it or not. It is serving its purpose.
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Chicago, it is what I'm doing. My father's ashes are in an urn in the back room. I suggested to my mother that we scatter hers and Dad's ashes together at her childhood home after she dies. She like that idea, so we got permission to do it from my cousin who owns the land. It's nice to get final wishes arranged.
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I don't see any disrespect. She is gone. She was gone the minute she took her last breath. She had a service, didn't she?

10-1, either the widow is creeped out by the ashes, or he just doesn't care and believes the same as I do.

I would just ask. Wait 'til her birthday or something, or plan it for a celebration, if you can. If he says "leave it alone," you could actually wait until he passes and co-mingle their ashes together.
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I have both my mom and my dad's ashes in lovely urns sitting on the shelf in my closet. We've discussed what to do with them but like Countrymouse said, we have just never gotten around to doing anything with them. My closet is neat and tidy and the urns are in a visible place. I look at them everyday and feel close to my parents.

But I agree, what remains in those urns are not really my parents. I believe they've gone on to another place.
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Perhaps your dad wants to be buried with his wife's ashes. Has anyone ever asked him? You're family for goodness sakes. Ask him. My FIL was in a box from the funeral home for a year and a half. When MIL passed, both of their ashes were buried together. We had a small grave side gathering when they were buried. It was beautiful. Ask him.
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My Dad sat on my brother's bedroom windowsill for three years. It's one of those tasks that, once it's been left, just continues to get left (although how anyone can draw the curtains on him twice a day and not notice says more about my brother's obliviousness, I think). So I agree with MM and Sodone - make a plan you're comfortable with, and gently propose it. And I agree that your MIL, if conscious of what's going on, will also know your FIL well enough to know that what's behind his inaction is more likely unwillingness to part finally than any disrespect.
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BTW, there are laws about where ashes can be scattered. You can't just go to Central Park and dump 'em next to her favorite spot, although people do. You might ask the funeral director for some suggestions. There are boats that will take you out to scatter ashes at sea, if MIL liked the ocean.
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Are they in your FIL's basement? It's his call on what to do with the ashes. Did your MIL have any requests about what to do with them? Your husband could gently remind his dad that mom always wanted her ashes scattered in the fine jewelery department at Neiman-Marcus, or wherever her preference was.

There's a company called Rock of Ages out of Rutland, Vt., that has makes urns in a variety of price ranges. They're lovely people, and they'd be glad to send your father a brochure, or he could check out their website.

Your MIL, of course, is not really under the basement stairs; she's moved on to another plane, or Heaven, or been reincarnated, or whatever happens to people when they die, but dealing with her cremains is a good idea before your FIL dies or goes into a nursing home, at which time they'd become your problem.
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Well, I'm a straight-forward kinda' gal. Make your plans for the ashes. You and your husband should decide what you think is appropriate . . . burial at a particular cemetery; or in the 'family plot' if ya' all have one; scattering them in her favorite garden; vacation spot. Whatever disposition seems right. Get all the information you need . . . how much it will cost . . . where you'd scatter them , , . when you'd all do it . . . etc.

Then, start the conversation with your FIL with, "Dad, we've been thinking about mom's ashes and what she'd like done with her ashes , , . here's what we've been thinking..." then a brief, clear, concise recital of what you've decided. Follow it up with (and this wording is IMPORTANT): "How does that sound to you?"

If yes, proceed. If no, then . . . "Well, all this time, we've had mom's ashes under our basement stairs. We know THAT'S not what she'd want. So I brought them with today so we could place them here in your home together. I think she'd want that most of all. How about if we put them ________ ?" (Have a spot picked out in your head) Then place them, have a toast to her memory with some sparkling grape juice you've brought along, give dad a big hug and go on.
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