We’ve talked fairly frequently about members of our families passing on and the requests they’ve made. We talk about writing everything down to ease the strain on the surviving family. But we’ve never really addressed the surviving family side.
I never thought about this until my dad passed. I knew he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered. Until recently, Catholics were not to be cremated. While the Vatican changed its position, and deceased Catholics can be cremated, their ashes cannot be scattered.
Any reservation I had about scattering his ashes had nothing to do with Catholic law. My issues were solely legal. I knew he wanted his ashes scattered on public and federal land. So I had a few options: (1) get permits (2) don’t ask don’t tell (3) don’t do it. I explored option 1 getting frustrated at the state of NY, and ended up following option 2. I couldn’t bring myself to not fulfill his wishes. I had plenty of reasons not to – “not my responsibility” was top on my hit parade. This was his wife’s (now widow’s) job, but she left him at the funeral home for six months while she planned her move to Florida. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t stand the thought that he would sit somewhere and be forgotten. My moral conviction to honor his wishes outweighed any issues with potentially breaking a law.
This led me to wonder about other cultures and how they handle death and funeral practices…
Have you been privileged to witness a funeral tradition unlike yours? Or, when honoring requests, have any of you been asked to do something that you cannot honor?Honor