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child ashes scattering

Thoughts on scattering the ashes of a son

This is article written for The Australian, I have copied it out whole. I am not aiming to plagiarise. I want people to understand some of the thoughts and emotions of others in a similar situation. Especially articles that they would not have come across ordinarily. Ones such as this below by Tom Walton on scattering the ashes of his son. Many people have to suffer the incomprehensible pain of losing a child, so sharing understanding or emotions is I hope helpful in some way. Enough of me twittering on.

This (bittersweet) life


Some years ago my wife and I owned an apartment on a beach not far from where we lived. Over the years, we enjoyed many weekends and holidays there with our two young boys.

Early most mornings I would take a walk on the beach with the boys, enjoy a bracing swim, and look out for any flotsam or jetsam the overnight tide might have deposited. With shrill cries of excitement the boys would rush up and down the beach and bring me their discoveries, to be identified and admired.

One morning they found a small carved wooden box at the water’s edge and proudly brought it to show me. On closer examination I noticed a small brass name plate attached to the lid and I realised the box must have at some time contained a person’s cremated remains.

Seated on the beach, as the sun’s early rays spread across the sands, we engaged in an earnest discussion about life, death, burial, cremation, what happens when you die and where you go. Due to the profound nature of this subject and as is often the case when dealing with young minds, there were many more questions than I had answers. Several questions simply had to be dealt with on the basis of “I don’t really know but give me a chance to read up on it”.

After we spent some time trying to imagine who this person might have been, we reverently buried the box well above the high-water mark and walked back in a quiet and thoughtful mood to have breakfast.

A few years later we sold the apartment, moved state and did not return, having discovered several other holiday destinations as our sons grew to adulthood.

Recently my wife and I revisited the beach after many years. We had come to scatter the ashes of our youngest son, who had died tragically in Queensland. As it was low tide we waded into the sea and carefully emptied the ­funeral urn, watching his ashes swirl away to nothingness. We were overcome with emotion as we recalled how much he loved this place as a child, the countless holidays, and now the bittersweet memories that remain with us.

For a long while we sat in silence on the beach, arms around each other, as we savoured the tranquil scene. It was a glorious morning as seagulls swooped and circled, and the sun glistened on the sparkling water. Then we rose to our feet, dug a deep hole in the sand well above the high-water mark and reverently placed his empty urn in there.

We know there is a circle to life, a beginning and an end that applies regardless of one’s faith. Through our tears we sensed a gentle feeling of peace and closure, as this inevitable circle was fulfilled for him. Though we would learn that there is no end to mourning a dead child.

What a lovely piece. You can find the original article here:


1 thought on “Thoughts on scattering the ashes of a son

  1. Reply
    Linda - 9th March 2021

    How beautiful that you allowed your son to be free and not kept on a shelf. I too know the pain of losing a son and this is the selfless love them forever but they are gone and they need to be free.

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