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cremation ashes exhumation

Cremation ashes exhumed in rare judgement

cremation ashes exhumation

If you choose to bury funeral ashes that is final, you can’t move them anywhere else, apart from is you are granted an exhumation order from the Department of Justice. Technically this is true even if you decide to bury the ashes in your own garden, you will still need an order to remove them.

Here is a case of a lady from Bromsgrove in the Midlands, whose husband had been paralysed and his last wish was to have his ashes scattered. However, his wife choose to have them interred – “When he died, I was so consumed with grief and loneliness that I made the decision to have his remains interred, so I would have somewhere to visit him and feel close to him”.

Then she felt guilty because she had gone against his last wishes – he felt that scattering his ashes was a way of setting himself free from his affliction he had suffered in his last years. She then had to go through the process of applying for an exhumation.

The good news is the Judge granted the exhumation order. In granting permission, the Judge said: “The normal rule is that burial in consecrated land is permanent, and that a faculty will only exceptionally be granted for exhumation.

“I have come to the conclusion that Mrs Bartram’s explicit statement that she was not made aware that the cemetery was consecrated, coupled with her strong feeling, entirely understandable, that she had done the wrong thing in having her husband’s ashes buried, together constitute a set of circumstances such that this case should be treated as an exception.”

This story poses a number of very interesting points. Firstly the fact that people don’t often realise how difficult it is to remove ashes once buried. Secondly Mrs Bartram was torn between wanting a focal point to grieve and the wishes of her dead husband which was to be ‘set free’.

I can imagine getting the exhumation order was very traumatic. I just hope now she has found some peace through the process.

Exhumation as yet has not been covered on the website, I intend to resolve this shortly…

2 thoughts on “Cremation ashes exhumed in rare judgement

  1. Shirley - 19th October 2010

    This story makes me wonder how many people go against their loved one’s wishes as far as their ashes are concerned. Scattering them when someone prefers to be kept at home, or keeping them when the deceased had specifically asked to be scattered. Come to think of it, I question whether many people would choose to spend eternity in an urn – it seems that most would prefer to be “set free” (as the husband requested.)

    Still, I imagine that exhuming ashes must be a lot less traumatic than exhuming a body.

  2. Jenny Hockey - 17th October 2010

    In the project we carried out at the University of Sheffield we gathered very similar data and published some of it in a paper in the journal Mortality (Kellaher et al (2005) ‘In the Shadow of the Traditional Grave’, Mortality 10(4): 237-250. Check out our other publications under the names Hockey, Kellaher and Prendergast. If you work in the area of death and dying, as an academic or a practitioner, visit the Association for the Study of Death and Society website and consider joining (free subscription to the journal Mortality for all members).

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