Monday, June 02, 2008

Ashes to Ashes logistics

So yesterday we dedicated our new Memorial Garden. It's lovely and peaceful and ready to be used. In fact, we have several families who have been hanging on to the ashes of their loved ones until the Garden was complete and they are now calling to schedule dates for interment or scattering. (We have places for both.)

Now here is the thing. There are any number of liturgies for the committal or scattering of ashes, so the WORDS aren't a problem. But none of these liturgies cover the actual hands-on logistics of the thing. Do I place the urn in the pre-dug hole? Do I designate a deacon to do this? Or a member of the deceased's family? Do we put the dirt back over the hole while the family is still present? And if so, who does that? And what about scattering? Do we dump straight from the box? Or scatter by the handful? Or start with a symbolic handful and then dump straight from the box? And who scatters? Up till now, my experiences with ashes were either at a funeral home or cemetary where their staff "took care" of things--or the family was planning to scatter the ashes in a lake or ocean or mountain top somewhere and I wasn't involved in that bit.

What do you all do?


Auntie Knickers said...

I haven't attended any scatterings, but several urn burials (i.e. ashes are in urn which is buried in ground). I think in every case a close family member placed the urn. No funeral home folks were present. Holes weren't very deep so no fear of falling in. This is what I would prefer, anyway. But I suppose it's something you should talk to each individual family about.

Listing Straight said...

Well, here's what we do- We pour the ashes in. If we buried all of the urns, the space would soon be gone...

A small hole is prepared with dirt and a shovel next to it. (probably a foot wide, 12 - 18 inches deep) Either the minister or the family pours them in. Then often the family will do some of the dirt replacement, but if that's not their thing (all of this is decided before hand)the minister does it. It's a little bit tricky to do that and stay clean in a dress (the HoS has is easier with his suit), but it's pretty do-able.

We've even been known to put the ashes in before hand if there is some family unrest about it (we follow the wishes of the spouse or children in that case).

We talk with families about this beforehand, and I think that our guidelines are helpful (If I can dig them up I'll e-mail them...).

Maybe this is more than you wanted?

Gord said...

Never been to a scattering (which are technically illegal in this prvonce I understand, as is any interment in anything other than a registered cemetery. Of course this is a technical point that is widely ignored).

But many of the services I have done lately have been cremations with no funeral home involved. When we plan the cemetery portion I ask if the family wants the urn lowered while they are present or to leave it for township staff to do after all have left. I find it is about 50/50, If they want it lowered it is usually (a) Family member(s) who do so with my assistance/instruction.

I'd think some simlar choice could be offered in your case.