Why Didn't They Tell Me? (Cremation Remains)

It’s taken me a very long time to actually choose an urn for Clive’s remains - 2 years! I’ve looked at every urn from every manufacturer out there until I finally found one that I think Clive would have liked. In the meantime, I had a call from the Funeral Directors about a year ago asking me when I was going to pick up his ashes so I went down to get them and they were in a cardboard box, where they’ve stayed until I finally found the right urn.

Last night, before bed, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and decided it was time to move his ashes from the cardboard box into the wooden urn. In my innocence, I assumed that his ashes would be in a black or opaque bag. Never in my worst nightmares did I think I would open the cardboard box and be faced with his ashes in a clear plastic bag! It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen - I gave them my husband and they gave me a plastic bag full of fragments. Horrible! Horrible! I haven’t slept all night - all I can see is that bag, I can feel the ashes under my fingers. I can’t get it out of my mind - that’s reality isn’t it? That’s what my husband has become. Why didn’t they tell me? How could they be so cruel? Surely a black or opaque bag isn’t too much to ask. Why did I have to see that?

Sorry - I know I’m rambling but it’s really upset me. I feel like I’ve been blindsided by a baseball bat. It’s all I can think about.

I was shocked when I got mums ashes. However they had already been transferred to our chosen urn. So I never had to witness what you did. But I never knew the lid could come off. Dad opened it and showed me. I have no idea why he did that I don’t think he was thinking straight. I don’t blame him. But I recoiled in horror “that’s my mum”. That’s what she is reduced to. The other day I picked up mums urn to give her a little kiss and heard the fragments inside move. It’s horrible. I don’t like it. But she still remains on my side unit. But I find it very difficult to comprehend.

Hi. Skywise. I can understand your shock. I would say extreme shock. It’s the old story over and over. People just don’t think. Where I live they provide a small urn for ashes. My wife is buried in the local churchyard which is what she wanted. I have no idea how awful it must be to find what you found.
Try and get his ashes in the right place for you. You don’t have to open the bag, but it makes no difference to your love. Yes, unfortunately it is reality, and just another of the shocks and hurts we have to accept and somehow get through. Your husband in no way has become the contents of that bag. No way!! It’s mortal remains, but he is not there anymore than my wife is in the grave. They have moved on.
You are not rambling and we all understand how you feel. So many pitfalls on this awful journey.
Take care. Blessings.

Hi skywise.
My mums ashes were in a cardboard box which was attractively packaged but when I scattered them in october a cloud of grey dust and fragments landed on the ground at the cemetery. Some of it even blew over our clothes as it was a windy day.
It was a shock but I guess that’s the reality of death. Earen underground by insects and worms, or reduced a bag of ashes.
It’s never nice. I hope you are feeling a but better x

Wow. This is something I’ve not yet faced up to. I know what ashes look like and what my mums ashes might look like but I haven’t actually seen them yet. I have them already in a lovely box which is covered with a beach scene and we are planning to scatter them this year. I’m still not sure if I want to let them go yet, two minds about it.
I’m going to look at them at some point and I’ll know I’m going to hate it, just seeing the outside of the box is enough for me. That realisation that those remains are her and yet she isn’t here is really going to hit me.
I can understand your upset and hope you find some peace with your chosen urn.

Shaun my mums is in a scatter tube with a beach
Scene too.

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Hi there, this is all such a terrible shock isn’t it when we don’t know what to expect. When I arranged for Brian’s ashes to be spread in the grave of his grandparents, everything was done with great care so I didn’t have to go through the horror you did. How awful for you. In my case the funeral director came to the grave with the urn and spread them himself once a level of grass had been removed. I remember the shock of seeing those ashes though. However a few weeks later I visited the grave as I do often and the Badgers had been digging around and I could see some of the ashes. I remember screaming as I couldn’t bear it. I felt I hadn’t been looking after him properly, I repaired the ground and kept saying how sorry I was. I wanted to stay there all night just to make sure it didn’t happen again. A year on I have been planting spring bulbs and flowers around the grave (Brian so loved the spring). As I dug down some of the ashes again appeared (they was only about four inches down). I was upset but then realised that Brian would love to be among the flowers he liked so much. Perhaps his ashes are meant to be with the Primroses. I still hate the Badgers though. I have a small urn with some of his ashes at home with me. I intended to scatter them but can’t bring myself to let them go. Again this was kindly done by the funeral director as well as some ash in a locket.
Pat xx

Oh my dear Skywise, what a terrible shock for you. Take note of what Jonathan has said. Truly, those ashes are not your husband, they are just the remains of his mortal physical shell. My husband is buried in our local church cemetery and when I visit I feel nothing. He’s simply not there. I feel no presence at all. I only go to place flowers and keep it looking nice as a memorial. Skywise, your husband is all around you, he definitely is not in that bag and he is probably looking down on you right this minute and laughing his head off. I hope I haven’t offended but I believe spirit still has a sense of humour. Sending love xx

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Hi Kate, I can confirm what you say and although I have Brian very near to home I don’t really feel his presence when I go to the graveside and really just go to do what you do. I keep it tidy and replace the flowers. I do have a quick chat but feel his presence more so when I am working on his allotment or out walking or down on the seafront near home. He grew up in this town and loved the sea. Our loved ones are all around us still and not in a box. I also can visualise Brian looking down on me. When I work at the allotments and trying to do repairs with his tools I can almost see him raising his eyes and saying "Just what do you think your trying to do"m when I become frustrated and sometimes tearful because I can’t do it. I shout at him and say “Well you come and do it then”. and I know he would say. “What do you expect , your only a woman.” and I can laugh. Yes spirit can have a sense of humour.
I never felt my husband in the coffin no more than I feel he is in that grave. I prefer to see him as the Robin that watches me and sings to me…

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I visited my mum in the chapel of rest. My plan was to stay for an hour and chat to her hold her hand etc. I stayed for less than 5 minute I instantly knew she wasn’t there. I didn’t want to be there. It’s just a shell once the spirit leaves the body. And I felt no connection to the coffin or her body in the chapel of rest. She is in my heart. She is the little bird that visits me every morning when I’m having a cup of tea. She is in my dreams, she is with me all the time. She is the Breeze on my face and feathers that float out of nowhere. X


Thank you all for your kind words. Yes, I know it’s not really my Clive, I felt him go when he died, but I just can’t get the image of that bag out of my head.

I did manage to transfer the bag from the cardboard box into the wooden urn and screw the bottom on safely. It’s now sitting on the sideboard in the living room. I put it down very carefully in it’s chosen place and then proceeded to have a complete breakdown!

I’ll get over it I’m sure but it will take me some time. I’m glad that his remains are now safely locked away in a nice wooden box - I felt as if people thought I didn’t care when I left them in the cardboard box for so long. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, I just wanted to make sure I bought the right urn because I didn’t want to have to move him twice. It was important to me because, when I go, I want our ashes to be mixed together, along with our little cat, Chloe. We three were a family and I want us to be together again. After that I really don’t care what happens to us, but I needed to keep Clive (and Chloe) safe until I join them.


I do hope you are feeling better now. I’m surprised the Funeral Directors didn’t offer to do this task for you. I can imagine how distressing it must have been for you. I think you have been very brave. I still have the ashes of our last dog and did intend to mix her ashes with Brian’s but I was so confused and mixed up that I forgot. So I have hers and some of Brian’s in the living room with me.
Take care

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Thanks Pattidot.
I am feeling a bit better now - being in work takes your mind of things and at least when I get home, I’ll see that lovely, polished alder box and not the carboard one.

My original Funeral Director was a complete sweetheart who would have done it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the business was sold some time after Clive’s funeral and the new company don’t seem to be as kind or thoughtful - when I went to pick up Clive’s ashes, the receptionist just dumped the box on the desk in front of me, asked me to sign for them and then put the box in an Asda carrier bag for me to take it home - very abrupt and almost as if they didn’t care. I know they must have to learn to put their emotions to one side, but it all felt very cold and businesslike,
not at all like the lovely man who dealt with us before.

How cold and uncaring. I have never had any connection with a Funeral Directors before, I had always been spared making any such arrangements but I did find that mine were lovely and they must have to be a special person to cope with such a position in the way that they deal with grieving people. I think I would be in tears all the time if I had a job like that and don’t think I stopped crying throughout any dealings with them. I do however remember one of the Directors telling me that he had given strict instructions that when he passed non of his children were to be allowed to see him, he believed it was only the shell of the person and not their spirit.

I too visit the grave perhaps not as often as I should, but whose counting.? And I get the same feeling. She’s just not there. It’s a strange feeling because I feel there should be some feeling but there’s none. It’s so different when I feel her presence at home now and then. I can get emotional, but never at the graveside.
There is no doubt in my mind that they have moved on. We will too one day, then we will know where they are and why.
IF you can manage it, and in the circumstances it’s nigh impossible, but IF you can a sense of humour always helps. It reminds me of the ‘Old Bill’ cartoons the troops had in the trenches in WW1. Amid all the pain and misery and the chance of sudden death they still managed a smile.
Please, I am not saying we should smile and laugh about the awful pain we all suffer, but I think you will get my meaning. I hope so. Blessings.

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Hi there John, Couldn’t agree more about managing that smile, at least when out. I make a point of saying a pleasant good morning to everyone when out with the dogs, even the odd joke. Now I have people I don’t know waving to me and when they smile at me it helps, It does me anyway, others stop for a chat. I am in pain, I am struggling but a joke and a smile will always brighten that moment.
I do get emotional at the graveside when I put his flowers there but I wonder if it might be out of guilt because I don’t feel him there with me. But if that Robin lands near or starts to sing then I do know he’s around and that lifts me. I feel my Brian is moving on as he hasn’t really visited me for a while and in the beginning of my grief he seemed to be sending very explicit signs all the time. I now see the odd white feather and just say ‘thankyou love’ a simple gesture but at least he’s keeping an eye on me still. They say that our loved ones move on when they think were ready to go it alone.
Love to you
Pat xxx

I haven’t had many signs lately. Although I remembered last year I sent mum a potted plant. And I couldn’t remember what I wrote on the card. So It’s been bugging me for ages. Last week I rung interflora and asked if they had a record of the delivery. She looked and said no sorry. So I said no problem and off I went. An hour later the lady rang me back and said “I carried on looking for you and I found it”. Now I never initially told her why I wanted the details but she kept on looking for me and rung me!!! . So I said “do you have my card that I wrote”. Yes she said. And she read it out
“Missing you mum can’t wait to see you soon. Love you lots”
That gave me such comfort to know that one of the last things I sent her told her I loved her. I think that was mum telling me that she knew I loved her and it was ok. No more guilt.

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I feel so sorry that you had to experience such an insensitive woman who clearly should not be in that job. I was lucky, my husband’s ashes were placed in the oak box and were to be collected. When I got the call to say they were ready , it hit me, how could I get in my car, drive there, go in, carry them to the car, place them in, get them out, carry them into our home. I was fortunate, the Funeral Director sensed my panic and gently said he was out later and would call with them. He did, but then the panic started again, he was going to hand them to me I’d have to carry them, I’d have to take them upstairs. I opened the door and simply said, “Could you take them upstairs please” and he did. This gave me time and they stayed close to me since that day. They remain with me and will be buried in Scotland with mine when the time comes :blue_heart:

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I know what you mean about carrying them home.

While I was driving home that day all I could think was “Once I get him home, he’ll be alright.” It was a very surreal experience. I’m sure that if Karl, the original guy, had still been there I would have had a very different experience. He actually called in to see me a couple of times after the funeral, just for a chat and to make sure I was okay - he was a lovely, very sincere man. He told me he didnt view it as just a job, it was more of a calling.

I was talking to my father earlier who told me that he’s going down to collect Mum’s ashes next week so I told him to order the urn first and take it with him when he goes so they can do the transfer for him - I’d hate for him to go through what I did, so maybe there is a silver lining to the whole horrid incident.

This is awful and absolutely heart wrenching…what were they thinking, my brothers and Mums were in Scatter tubes x