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When my father passed a few years ago, he was cremated. My mother survives him, as well as 5 grown children. My mother was not sure if she wanted to be cremated, so we waited to bury my dad in a Veterans Cemetery until she determined what she wanted to do. In the interim, my brother (who was an absentee son) has held the ashes 3 hours away. My mother decided to be cremated and both my mother and I requested that the ashes be returned so that my father could be interred. There have been numerous issues within the family by way of squabbling and there's always somebody not talking to the other. As a result of this, my mother wanted to be sure that when she passed, she knew she would be side by side with my father. So, she asked that we make those arrangements with the Veterans Cemetery, which I did. However, my 3 out-of-town siblings refuse to honor my mother's request and my brother refuses to release the ashes. The other two siblings think that we are dishonoring my father by treating him like a "football", being passed around. I support my mothers request. She lives with me and I know that this bothers her. She fears that she won't be buried with my father. So now, the family has shut down and no longer communicates at all. My father sits on my brother's mantle.....my mother who is now 80 wonders how this is going to all shake out because she cannot be buried in the Veterans cemetery without my father being in there too. I feel my siblings are being vengeful for past issues with my mother and are trying to show their "loyalty" to their father. Ironically, you could count on on hand the number of times they visited in the last 5 years of his life. I can let it go and my mother kind of has too, but am I dishonoring my father by not acting more pro-actively trying to get him buried, like he wanted to be.

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Dear lngpnd1, I feel for you also. It's just a terrible situation, and a sad one too. Since I posted this, I did place my mother in an Assisted Living place that is closeby, so I still do her meds and stay in touch...almost daily really. But, my personal life is now back to being personal. I did finally talk with my oldest sister about the ashes, and she said to talk with the others. As my mother talks out of both sides of her mouth to the siblings, I feel like it is my fight, not my mothers as she will say "well, you know how Donna is." I am so disappointed that my father may not be buried in a Veterans cemetery. That very service that he gave to our country, is the reason my mother has the care and attention she needs at assisted living. The VA gave her more money for Aid and Attendance and she is very well cared for. IT was the best thing my father ever did for her. After I talked recently with my sister, I realized how petty the other 3 siblings were, and that is a result of years of jockeying for position for my parents attention, which was sadly lacking. We should have just buried my father when he passed, period. I know my dad is not in the ashes, but it is shameful that this is happening. He was a Navy man and very proud to be like his brothers. Once my mother is set at the new place for a month or so, we will revisit whether to seek legal action so we can properly bury my father. And thanks for the good advice Igloo572, very perceptive. I always loved Donna Reed too...kinda wore my hair like her as a kid. I have been tagged with that name before. :)
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I have pretty much the same thing going on. I now have mom's ashes but daughter won't return dad's ashes, decorated veteran to be buried in Arlington, mom too. because the cost of attorney is so high, I have to let it go and know that my dad is with mom now an that's that. If I don't let it go, it will kill me. So sorry for anyone who has evil family members.
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DonnaDear - you are just being too Donna Reed too too nice on all this. Your mom as the surviving spouse should get the ashes back. Siblings have shown they are not going to play nice. Get legal to get on this for your mom. Mom should pay for this out of her income too.

I'll suggest a couple of things be added to the attorneys request for return of ashes: get an estimate or two for the cost of a full cremation and vault or mausoleum for mom - this won't be cheap either. In the attorneys letters to your siblings, it indicates that they will be billed and held responsible for all this IF ashes not returned and available for veterans cemetary burial. Funeral & burial even w/cremation could run 4K add mauseleom or vault, could take it to 10K

Pam brings up a good point that anyone with veterans in their family should keep in mind. A lot of them are full. My FIL is in the one in Santa Fe (this is a really beautiful cemetery with old, old headstones) and they are full for traditional burials; MILs cremation box can be put in at his grave which eventually will happen but has to be scheduled for certain days. When I went to deal with finding out about coverage in my moms pre-need, I asked if FH could hold the body if we wanted to wait a bit of time to bury, FH told me that they could do this as they often have to wait weeks often to bury at Ft Sam Houston vets cemetery. This FH has a refrigerated facility (has a daily cost after a week though).
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as a trained mediator, what would you advise a client to do in the same situation?? unfortunately, sometimes it needs to go the legal route, sad and pathetic some siblings can be!!!!!!!!! I know the feeling!!!!!!!!!!!
but honoring your parents should be top priority
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Yes, that is exactly what it seems like that my dad's ashes are being held hostage. My brother offered to take them to his place as my mother was so distraught that she really didn't feel comfortable having the urn at her house. She also stated, that because us siblings paid for the service, she did not feel like she had a choice. But once she felt better and we talked (she lives with me now), she felt like she would like to see him buried. She called my brother twice, she sent two letters and I even sent one that was very neutral, asking that we honor our mothers request. My letters, except one, was "returned to sender". We have offered to pick them up or have them delivered, but nobody is budging. I also cannot fathom why my two sisters (who live miles away from my brother) would support the decision to make my mother wait until she has passed to "get my father back". I have an attorney who would be willing to step in, but my mother is hesitant, as I am, to have it turn into a Judge Judy show. I am a trained mediator and I do know the value of having this done. I suggested having a neutral come in and work this out. I know that my father is not in those ashes, but he was a WWII veteran and I think he deserves that honor. I feel like I should honor my father, and my mother for that matter, and let him rest in peace where he belongs. I don't claim ownership nor do I want preferential treatment. I have no idea from where this ugliness has sprung from. As a result, since my letters were returned unopened, I have not spoken to nor have I been contacted by those siblings.
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I would say that the wife "owns" the ashes, unless other specific instructions were left by the deceased. How did Brother wind up with them?

Perhaps a firm letter from a lawyer directing Brother to return Father's ashes to Mother would be helpful.

And I must say, this is really carrying family feuds way too far. Holding ashes hostage? OMG.
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IF you still can get a spot in New Albany, would brother agree to send the ashes directly to them? Would he even take them there himself? That way there is no direct conflict.
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We had one lined up in New Albany that had space for both of them. They had all the paperwork ready, and all we had to do was give them a date and time. I fear that they will fill up and we will be out of luck. But my brother won't give up the ashes until my mother passes. If I think about it long enough, I get pretty upset. He's such a jerk. Does my mother have any recourse?
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Cave Hill Nat'l Cemetery is currently FULL. Zachary Taylor National Cemetery is also closed to new interments. The only interments that are being accepted are subsequent interments for veterans or eligible family members in an existing gravesite. Periodically however, burial space may become available due to a canceled reservation or when a disinterment has been completed.
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Mom should have called the VA when he died. Space in veteran's cemeteries is very limited and there are long waiting lists. Wives are not guaranteed a spot, it's on a space available basis. First find out if you can get a plot and what it will cost for burial and whether you can afford it. It is not free.
Who is in charge? The Executor of the Will, who carries out the terms that are written in the Will.
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