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What is it with cremation urns and charity shops?

funeral urn


Funny, every week a story about a plea for the return of stolen cremation urn pops into my Inbox. The result some halfwit burglar stealing a cremation urn, presumably in ignorance? But the latest theme tends to be about ‘donating’ them to charity shops. I have to say I like the picture, there is something about the expression of the lady thrusting the urn to toward the photographer.


Again this seems to stir our dismay and sensibilities, how could Aunt Mabel end up lining the shelves of Oxfam (although in this case an Arthritis Research Campaign shop)? Well I guess it will become increasingly common, that is cremation urns turning up in unusual places as opposed to an arthritic charity shop in Midlothian, oh dear what am I saying I didn’t mean the shop was arthritic ….


Anyway, ashes are often beyond value to those nearest and dearest, but one onion layer away and they can be no more than a shrug or a burden. It is not difficult to imagine a situation where this would be the case – a person with no surviving relatives, an unloved stepparent, or managing a distant relatives estate from abroad.


However, before I forget about the story entirely it also had the ubiquitous helping of black humour that accompanies such articles. I shall quote the loins share as it does convey good mental imagery…

She said: “There were three separate women who had handed in donations that morning, so it was one of them, but we weren’t paying attention as we were busy, so we didn’t see who they were.

“I saw the vase and immediately thought it was valuable because we had received a similar one the week before and we had researched up on it.

“So one of my colleagues was checking underneath it to see if it was indeed another vase from Germany when a wee bit poured out.”

Ms Skilbeck said she realised straight away what the ashes were, adding: “I thought someone must have handed them in by mistake so I scooped what I could into a bag and then Hoovered up the rest.

“I left the ashes in a bag in the back of the shop but the other volunteers were getting uncomfortable about them being there, so after about a week I called the funeral parlour.

“I really hope someone claims them. The lady from the funeral parlour said she thought there was only about a third of what should have been there, however I thought there was quite a lot.”

Arlene Newbigging, Barclays Funeral Services funeral service arranger, said they would know by next week if it was a pet or human ashes.”

She said: “They went away for testing on Wednesday. There was not as much as I would expect so they could be a pet, however they could also be human as sometimes families split them between themselves so that’s why there would only be half in the vase.”

Hoots man! Hoovering up a wee bit of Mabel! Whatever next!?

Sorry, one more thought before I go, Funeral Parlour. The word Parlour left our common parlance ages ago didn’t it? Yet thinking about it, that is what you would call the actual establishment, is that because a calling it a shop is wrong as it cheapens it and well to be fair is not very accurate. Or is it that the funeral industry is stuck in a pseudo Victoriana world? What about Funeral Service Centre… no you’re right, that is not good either, it conjures up thoughts of a heavy tattooed man in an oily overall pointing at a coffin on a trolley and shrugging, saying he had to replace all the parts and it will cost double, or sharp dressed chap in his late twenties with an ostentatious tie who has pounds signs for eyes. Shall we stick to parlour for a bit longer?




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