Agony Aunt: My Mum Wants to Steal Her Ex-Boyfriend’s Ashes
My mum’s first love died recently. The plan for his remains is for them to be cremated and then for his current wife to keep them in an urn. My mum wants to take some of his ashes from the urn and to then take them to their old spot and scatter them, assuming she can do so without alerting his family and thus adding to their pain. She thinks it will help her mourn and that it will not do any harm to him or his family, especially since she will do it only if she can be sure they will not find out. I think it is disrespectful to his remains and that, if he wanted his ashes to be scattered someplace special, he would have talked about it with his wife. Should I stop her? Is this a strange but OK reaction to the death of someone important to her, or should I encourage her to seek other ways of mourning?
Yes, you should stop your mother from trying to steal her old boyfriend’s ashes, even if it’s just “some of them.” His family will want all of them. I understand that your mother is grieving, but I think this is a wild, irrational response to grief. Of course, wild and irrational plans are a perfectly understandable response to the sudden loss of someone you loved deeply. I don’t fault her for having a mad, daring plan for claiming a part of the man she felt she lost. But that doesn’t mean she should follow through with her plan. I’m not even sure how she could. There is no way your mother could siphon “just a few” of his ashes unnoticed; it would be a shock and a scandal and deeply upsetting to her ex’s family. It would harm them and humiliate her.
It may be simple grief, or it may be a sign that your mother’s mental condition is not what it was, if she thinks she can pull this off. She needs to find a less intrusive way to mourn their connection, and you might need to have a serious conversation with her about boundaries and her state of mind.
I agree she should not take the ashes without permission, even if she could construct a fool proof method of how this might be done. However, it would appear there could be a connection with the ex’s partner. So, I will suggest asking, they can always say no. The statement – his family will want all of them. While this may be true it also may not be. It is not a black and white.
It is not weird or odd to want some of the ashes to memorialise in your own way whether that be scatter or put some in some ashes jewellery. Although sometimes this is just not possible, in such circumstances, I would suggest that the person grieving seeks professional help eg Cruse.
The other point to make is that if the person had not discussed it then obviously they did not want to do this – Not true. The vast majority of us do not tell our loved ones what we want to happen with our ashes. And even if we did most would not say, ‘oh yes can you give a portion to my ex’.