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Family traumatised by Councils neglect of memorial rose garden

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A slightly different blog this week we have been contacted by a lady who is struggling to communicate with Trafford Council about the rose garden where her daughters ashes rest, this is what she said:

In 1997 my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 30 after a very short illness so we were devastated to loose her and she was a vibrant fun loving girl and was engaged to be married.  We decided to cremate our daughter and Altrincham Crematorium gave us options of where to scatter her ashes and we decided that the Rose Garden which in 1997 was absolutely beautiful was the right place as Jeannine loved gardens. 

So we leased a Standard Rose for 5 years  at the cost of £75.00 with the option to take another 5 years and so on and purchased a plaque with her name on it and all my family and the local vicar went to the Rose Garden and a Gardener dug a large hole and put her ashes in and planted the standard rose on top of the ashes.   It was a sad day but we had a memorial to my beautiful daughter and somewhere for me to visit regularly.  And I go every 2 to 3 weeks because this rose tree is the only tangible thing I have got.  But in around 2015 the Council subcontracted out the maintenance to Amey LG and the whole of the crematorium has deteriorated and in the Rose Garden they never weeded it or hoed or fed the roses and they are in a poor condition and I constantly complained in the office but they said they were short of funds and what we pay wasn’t enough and I answered with –  then charge more. 

On one of my many visits to the office complaining (and I add at this point that my husband and I have been weeding the beds every time we go and it’s not hard work) I was handed a letter saying that no Leases will be renewed after their renewal dates and they are going to take out the roses and redesign the whole area.   I was devastated at this news because Jeannine’s ashes are underneath her Rose and if they take it out they will disturb consecrated ground.

I was so mad and upset I got a local Councillor to set up a meeting at the Crematorium and it was ultimately decided that Jeannines Rose and Plaque would remain in situ until the last Lease expires which is 2022. But of course by then the Garden will be derelict and too late to restore the Rose Garden which could be easily saved now and soil fed etc etc.  They constantly tell me that the soil is poor but if you don’t feed it, it will be, but these people are not gardeners and I feel that don’t care in the slightest about our feelings and are completely insensitive. But the entrance to the Crematorium is well maintained and always beautiful flowers and it has to be the same soil as the Rose Garden directly behind but hidden by a huge hedge so no visitors can see how neglected it is. 

I panicked and wrote to the Vicar at the local church and asked him if the ground where my daughters ashes are is sacred and if they removed them would it come under the heading of exhumation, and he replied immediately and told me that there are legal parameters around burial sites and mortal remains which will ensure the safety of my daughter’s ashes, also in law ashes are considered to be the same as a body therefore cannot disturb the resting place as the ashes can’t be divided as its a body.  So I felt relieved that the Council couldn’t disturb the ground underneath the Rose, but I’ve just received a letter from the Chief Executive of Trafford Council and she informs me that the Vicar is correct when mortal remains are interred within a grave space, but this legislation does not apply to the laying to rest of cremated remains, either within a garden of remembrance or other public area.

So I am again frightened that they can remove the standard rose thus disturbing my daughters ashes even though it is in the Memorial Rose Garden provided by the Council and I know there are a lot of people in the same situation as myself.  So if anybody knows the law regarding ashes placed under a rose or tree  in the grounds of a crematorium  please let me know as I need as much support as I can get to help me sort this out.   

I have requested on many occasions to have accounts showing where the Council has spent all our Lease money and every 5 years I have paid and the last amount was £150 in March 2013 and has now expired but I’m told that the Lease money for the Rose is not itemised down to the level of the Rose Garden but income generated from memorials is used to support the overall keep of the grounds maintenance etc. etc. but nothing has been done in the Rose Garden for 3 years.    

I would love to hear from Trafford to share their side of the story

I will try to keep my waffly explainintion brief: I think there is two things going on one is legal which is possibly around the definition of interment – were the ashes scattered or interred. The second which is a more moral issue, I would strongly suspect that when Mrs Vickes interred/scattered her daughter’s ashes at the garden of remembrance she expected to be able to visit the her daughters resting place site and the rose bush in perpetuity, the council appear not see it like that.

This is a sad story, I hope this post will help her voice in finding some resolution.

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councils hold ashes

Are councils refusing to hand over ashes in the cases of ‘pauper funerals’?

Right, a controversial subject. Let’s us attempt to set out the stall in a nonpartisan fashion. A Pauper Funeral is an old-fashioned/emotive term for funerals where the local authority are required to step in as the family are either unwilling or unable to pay for the funeral. Technically these are known as public health funerals in England and Wales and as national assistance funerals in Scotland.

Why have they been in the news? An article in the Sunday Times (Councils refuse to hand over ashes to families after pauper funerals). A reporter posed as a family member wishing to have the ashes of a relative returned after a ‘pauper funeral’. The Authority in question was Glasgow. The article lead with “Town halls are accused of callously trying to deter the poor from seeking financial help when loved ones die” and “Councils are refusing to give poverty-stricken families their loved ones’ ashes in an apparent ploy to reduce demand for paupers’ funerals, it can be revealed.”

“In a recorded conversation, an official told a woman posing as a representative of a dead man’s sister: “It’s us having to pay for it, so, as I say, she will not get his ashes back.”

Asked if the sister could scatter her brother’s ashes at a special location, our reporter was told: “I’m afraid not. No.”

The official stated the policy three times, explaining that families had no right to the ashes because the state was paying and they would be disposed of in the council-owned crematorium garden.”

Add a bit more of: how your hard-earned cash is being used to subsidise such things and you have created an argument.

However, this is not the whole story. Why do journalists do this: report what they think will cause outrage at the start of an article then report the whole truth towards the end?

When they pursued it, the council said they didn’t have such a policy and they would educate the team responsible to make this clear.

Glasgow city council said it was legally responsible for “the remains of the deceased” and sometimes a number of people tried to claim the ashes “with no reliable or legal way of determining who should take precedence”.

“However, where this is clear, we can and do pass remains into the care of family members.” It added: “The council is currently creating a fund to support families struggling with funeral costs.”

I suppose Over Officious and Insensitive Crematorium Officer Gets Policy Wrong is hardly article worthy. I am not saying that the council are shining lights of virtue, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some that use tactics to shame families into paying, particularly if they believe a family was using this route, even though they had an ability to pay.

Why was the Times investigating? These funerals have been on rise in recent years. Research by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stirling shows that 82% of paupers’ funerals in Scotland involve families who are unable, or sometimes unwilling, to pay, up from 44% a decade ago.

Why are they on the rise? Their use has risen in recent years in response to the growing cost of funerals and the declining value of government aid to the bereaved. The Department for Work and Pensions has capped “social fund” extra expenses for funerals at £700 since 2003. The scheme pays towards coffins, flowers and funeral directors’ fees, but eligibility rules are strict and those in work are often excluded. Since 2003 the average cost of a funeral has risen from £1,920 to £4,078.

Couple for things:  Stirling is not a huge are to sample, but I agree they are on the rise. The reasoning for this is perhaps more complex than the capping, but I would imagine it has a lot to with it. Also, average funeral cost isn’t referenced and the price they have used is a bit naughty – that is the average if you bury, we are not talking about burial here we are talking about cremation which is around £3,200.

The article did contain an interesting table on what local authorities spent on these funerals:

If you had the time you could level this out against prosperity and population to give a more reasoned picture. What the article did point out was fascinating was the variation in cost between some of the authorities.

Research by the insurer Royal London shows that although some councils spend generously on paupers’ funerals — Birmingham tops the list, paying out an average of £1,847 on 376 occasions in 2015-16 — others keep the annual cost to three figures. Tamworth borough council managed to spend just £200 on one funeral. Broxbourne, Warrington, Chorley, East Staffordshire, Eastleigh and South Lakeland also spent under £1,000.

Why are there such variations? Good question, looking at the numbers you might expect the opposite: that those with the greatest cost would have the lowest unit cost. However that is clearly not the case. Tamworth’s cost were nine times less than Birmingham’s, now please excuse me while I dip into the land of supposition. Birmingham’s issue is much greater than most, so they needed a simpler solution: outsource. By getting a set price from a large funeral director for a direct cremation and use your purchasing power to get the price down – £1,847 looks suspiciously like the cost of direct cremation with a bit knocked off. Where Tamworth with just the one, with access to their own crematoria will just be paying for essentials like the coffin. It does beg the question why Birmingham CC don’t have an inhouse funeral directors, looks like they could save a lot of money – but I’m sure there are good reasons.

But how big an issue is it? Not that much in the scheme of things: Local authorities spent £4m on this, there were just over ½ million deaths in last year and 4000 authority funerals – equating to 0.8% of all funerals compared to around 8% of the population that are defined as being in “persistent income poverty”. So even 90% of extremely poor families are managing somehow.

One must also remember that austerity has meant councils needing to maximise income streams, therefore a dramatic increase in revenue from one of their cash cows – crematoria fees. Which is one of the main reasons for the increase in funeral costs recently.

So the article lead to the general array of comments which fall into three broad categories:  the uncaring / tough love brigade: ‘Come on! everyone can pull that sort of cash together’ or ‘Everyone dies they should have thought and saved for it, why should those that hard work pay’; the compassionates – ‘they must be desperate to use this option don’t make their lives any worse’ ; And the plain ignorant ‘All bodies get burnt together’

So there you have it, nothing hugely suprising.

 

 

 

 

 

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Scattering Ashes Service

Scattering Ashes Service across the UK and overseas

Scattering Ashes Service

Scattering Ashes Service across the UK and overseas. Are you looking for your loved one’s ashes to be scattering at a particular destination within the UK or overseas but are unable to do this yourself? We can help.

Many of us will have a place in mind that we want our ashes to be scattered over after we have gone. This can sometimes be difficult for family or friends to co-ordinate, especially if they are overseas. Do you need permission? How do you arrange the transportation of the ashes? Can you take the time away from work or home to scatter the ashes in the chosen location? It can be very difficult and we can help arrange this for you.

Your loved one’s ashes will be treated with the greatest of respect at all times. You will receive a picture of the ashes scattering service along with a certificate with the exact location so that you or future generations can visit at a later date. The certificate is included in the price, you can add a other ceremony items such as petals or seedballs for a small additional price. We can even arrange to have them scattering on water, for our boat service see this link.

Each Scattering Ashes Service request will be assessed on an individual basis and the price will be dependent upon the location (distance and travelling costs) and any permission factors.

If you would like a quote please fill in the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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*Please note we will always try our very best to fulfil requests however some locations are unavailable due to legal reasons, for general guidance see our advice page on permissions.

#scatteringashes #ashesscattering

 

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What to do with ashes - guide

What to do with ashes? 12 things to consider: VIDEO

When you get the ashes back from the funeral directors it can seem very daunting. You wont know what to do for the best, there may be relatives wanting one thing or another.

However, there are a number of things you may not have considered, why would you? Over the years we have listened to a lot of people and heard a lot of issues and concerns, so we thought we should share them.

This video highlights twelve things you should consider, but most important of all is DON’T RUSH TO DECIDE

For more highly informative videos visit and subscribe to our YouTube Channel – Scattering Ashes YouTube

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simple white urn

Can a funeral director keep ashes until they have been paid?

No, they can’t. Some funeral directors choose to hold ashes until the family pay the bill, but they are not allowed to. It is the applicant’s right under Section 7 of the Cremation Act 1902 and Statutory Rules and Orders, 1903, No 286. Cremation England & Wales.

It must be noted that this is NOT standard practice for the vast majority of funeral directors. However, funeral directors are often small independent business’ and when bills aren’t paid it can have a crippling impact.  And non-payment does happen, funeral costs are substantial and families will often wish to show their respects by arranging a fitting send-off. Sometimes this is without knowledge that it is beyond their means, or what the estate can afford. Also, as many funeral arrangements are made somewhat in haste, it is sometimes the case that commitments for spending are made before agreement has been reached in the family as to who is paying for what – and subsequent disagreements can leave the funeral director out of pocket. So some choose to hold to that ashes by way of an insurance, they can’t and they shouldn’t but you can see why they might consider it.

 

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Christmas

Christmas – coping with bereavement

Christmas – coping with bereavement

Christmas can be a very difficult time of year. It’s always brings the family memories rushing forward, especially if it a first anniversary since your loved one passed away.

We have a few ideas for surviving Christmas but everyone is different so please do speak to others who have been through the experience, they may have some helpful advice. There are also lots of great charities who have great support websites which can be useful even if you don’t feel up to going along to one of their groups.

Make sure you know what you want to do

Christmas is a stressful time and many demands are placed on you by family, friends and colleagues. Do take time to think about how you want to spend the day so that you can deal with requests. You may want do something completely different, get away from home or volunteer in a soup kitchen. Or, you may prefer to gather your close family around you, or even cancel it altogether. Keep plans flexible so that you can decide when you know how you feel and change your plans if you want to.

Remember your loved one

Some people find it helpful to take time to remember their loved one, this might include a visit to the grave or wherever you have scattered the ashes, or a place that was special to them.

Make time to look through photos or memories with family and friends, it’s good to talk about them.

Look after yourself

It is very important to nurture yourself during this difficult time of the year, let others look after you. Simple things like hot baths and walks in the countryside or park can all help to lift your spirits.

Christmas is a time of over-indulgence and there is often a lot of alcohol being offered, whilst drowning the pain may seem like a good idea it is only a temporary solution and do remember it is a depressant. Exercise, if you can manage it, will make you feel better in the long-term

There is no right or wrong way

Grief is as individual as you are and your loved one was, there is no right way to grieve and also there is no wrong way.  If your emotions take over on the day, don’t feel alarmed, it’s perfectly natural. Just take some time to yourself. Keep talking and remember to be kind to yourself.

 

Useful Organisations

The Bereavement Advice Centre has a list of really helpful organisations including Cruse which offers psychological and emotional support in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Hope Again a wonderful charity that focuses on helping young people cope with loss.

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exhumation ashes

Family ashes plots a way to persuade the church to allow exhumation?

I have written on the subject of exhumation of ashes many times because each case is slightly different and it interesting to see the church’s stance. As usually the salient points from the judge get reported.

In case you are not aware, if ashes are buried on consecrated land the decision whether to allow exhumation rests with the Church’s Consistory Court and they historically have taken a firm line that once buried then that is final, unless there are exceptional circumstance, and what constitutes exceptional circumstances is the crux of the issue.

This case an elderly Grantham couple won consent to have their son exhumed from his grave.  The couple where becoming frail and unable to visit the grave, but ordinarily this would not be enough to grant an exhumation order as this situation could have been ‘reasonably foreseen’.

Mark Bishop, Chancellor of the Diocese of Lincoln, in his role as a judge of the Church’s Consistory Court has given consent for the ashes of their son to be removed from Castle Bytham Cemetery and re-buried in a plot at Grantham Crematorium.

In his ruling Chancellor Bishop said : “The presumption is that burial of human remains in consecrated ground is permanent.”

He went on to say : “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Jason was laid to rest in 2002 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”

Concluding: “I am persuaded that this exhumation can be permitted on the exceptional grounds that Mr and Mrs Beecroft wish to have a family grave at Grantham Crematorium. This is one of the exceptions to the principle that Christian burial is permanent.”

I never knew this: Church rules allow for exhumation if one of the reasons for which it is sought is the creation of a family grave.

This is very significant and present a real opportunity to families want to exhume due to reasons of location.

 

 

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scattering ashes on a windy day

Scattering ashes on a windy day: how not to do it!!

Scattering ashes on a windy day. When a scattering ashes ceremony goes wrong it often becomes a story in many a family’s mythology. The truth is scattering ashes and the wind don’t often mix well.

This poor lady gets it almost entirely wrong.

Her son filming it, sees the funny side. His mum trying to be serious realises her planning left a little to be desired.

So lessons learnt:

  • Wind and Height – the higher you go the windier it is
  • Bridges are windy because they are more exposed
  • Check to see if there is anything to prevent you from scattering the ashes – in this case a high barrier on the bridge and a ledge beneath it become major obstacles.

I don’t often join in the chorus of hilarity in such things, one has to sympathy for the poor woman  – I doubt this was her intention when she planned her mum’s send off, although the son’s infectious laughter is difficult to resist!

We’ve got lots of helpful advice about everything relating to ashes on our award winning advice pages.

For more Scattering Ashes videos subscribe to our YouTube Channel

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Family appeal for someone out in New Zealand to scatter their grandma’s ashes

Olive Chesworth from Liverpool adored New Zealand and Maori culture. So much so she spent a large amount of time in antipodean climes. After her first visit in 1991 she saved up and spent six months there every other year.

Now she passed away her family are looking to scatter some of her ashes on the archipelago.

“Mum would spend six months with people she met, and would come back over to see other people she met,” said her 49-year-old son Lee Chesworth. “She absolutely loved New Zealand.”

“She stayed on farms where she would “roll up her sleeves and get stuck in”. She was fascinated by Maori culture and people. When shearing gangs came to the farm, she ate with the workers and quizzed them about their tattoos.”

Her son is putting a shout out to a New Zealand family, “or even some ex-Scousers”, to send the ashes to and perform the scattering duties.

“I’d love to put a little bit of mum over in New Zealand so when the kids are older, they can go and visit a little bit of grandma while they are there.”

Anyone wanting to help the Chesworth family can contact kurt.bayer@nzme.co.nz and their details will be passed on.

Lovely and heart-warming, what a nice son. There are two issues I think Mr Chesworth may encounter, one obstacle may be cost the price for sending ashes anywhere abroad can be very high. The second issue and I feel almost bar-humbugish bringing it up: the scattering of ashes is quite offensive to Maori culture, in fact there is a big hoo-hah down in Kiwi Land at the moment – tribal elders coming into conflict with those from Hindu belief system as Hindus insist on the ashes being scattered in the water…

Here are a few articles on the subject:

Scattering ashes in New Zealand or this one – New Zealand 

This is the original story: http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11819830

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danger scattering ashes

Scattering Ashes – please do it safely!

When choosing to scatter ashes people are often drawn to the most dramatic or significant piece of the landscape: the a promontory, a mountain peak or a cliff edge. These places are often fraught with danger and in an emotionally heightened state this is risk can be increased.

Last month it would appear that two siblings lost their lives while scattering the ashes of their mother from the White Cliffs of Dover.

The twins were found dead at the bottom of the Dover cliffs on New Year’s Day and it is strong suspected that they may have slipped whilst scattering their mother’s ashes. The police discovered them will looking for the body of another person.

The siblings both aged 59 never married and lived with their parents their entire lives. After their father died in the 1980s, the mother and twins moved to Flintshire, North Wales. Then when their mother died in 2014, the twins moved to the small village of Elton in Cheshire.

When the bodies were discovered, they appeared to be in the possession of the urn containing the ashes of their mother, this has also caused speculation as to whether it might have been a suicide pact.

However, this is far from the first incident of its type, last year (2016) a man in Cornwall was washed out to sea by a freak wave while scattering ashes, previously a couple had drown in Spain whilst carrying out an ashes water burial and lady slipped from a cliff in Ireland on her way to scatter ashes.

I presume it is because of what they were doing that they attracted press attention, but the point still stands. When choosing a place to scatter a loved one’s ashes do not compromise your own safety.

 

 

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deception weston

Somerset Crematorium tricks relatives over a scattering – then hold their hands up

This story reported in Somerset Live is interesting first as you don’t get to hear of many wrong-doings here in the UK. Whether that is because produces are tight or there is a code of silence one can’t say but knowing a little of what goes on I am inclined to believe the former.

Anyway staff of Dignities Weston crematorium in Somerset had the ashes of a ladies partner. The instruction was to divide them and give half to the family and scatter the rest in the presence of the family. However the staff at the crematorium got it badly wrong and scattered half the ashes without the family being present, then in attempted to cover up their mistake by inviting the family to witness the scattering of stranger in the belief it was their loved one.

Now that is awful and deceitful, but what is refreshing and quite commendable is the company actually confused their mistake when this incident came to the attention of senior management, they did not conspire in this deception they instead confessed what had happened and sought to apologise straight way. Well you might think so they bloomin’ well should and indeed that is true, but in actually it was quite a brave moved. They did the right thing even though nobody would have ever known the wiser, which bearing in mind they are private and generally private companies don’t have a habit of shouting mea cupla from the roof tops: then I have to say I am obviously saddened that the incident happened, but pleasantly surprised to know the end result.

A spokesperson from Dignity said: “We deeply regret the distress caused to this family and our manager immediately apologised to them once staff admitted what happened.

“A thorough investigation is being held to understand why fully-trained, experienced staff failed to follow the established, robust procedures we have in place.

“We take this incident very seriously and it may lead to disciplinary action against all staff concerned.”

I hope the family have been able to come to terms with this and I hope the company will go on to have rock solid procedures

Original story is at at http://www.somersetlive.co.uk/grieving-family-tricked-by-weston-crematorium-staff-scattering-wrong-ashes-to-cover-up-blunder/story-30071933-detail/story.html#fzpIbDfkaSHaIybj.99

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dispute witness fee ashes

Secret scattering to avoid the witness fee

Officials at Dudley Council in the Midlands have revealed that there has been a rise in families going into the memorial gardens at Gornal Wood and Stourbridge Crematoriums and scattering the ashes of their loved one’s without permission.

There are questions being raised as to why this is happening: well cost is being cited as the main reason, families are being asked to pay £51 to ‘witness’ the ashes of their loved one being scattered or interred. And clearly, they don’t like it. I would think the family are seeing the fee as another “money for old rope” scheme from the council and they are thinking well, I’ll take the ashes and do it myself.

As the councillor points out correctly this is sad as the families won’t have the scattering recorded: which may seem trivial now but wont be in the future.

The councillors are also saying it is illegal, granted the families doing this don’t have permission, but I am wondering in what respect is it illegal? If it is illegally then theoretically they could be prosecuted or sued – but how and under what law?

There is an issue over this witness fee – the councillor recognises this as too high and the opposition (UKIP) councillor think £51 is extortionate. It is not extortionate, but neither is it right. I do not see why there is an additional charge on top of the cremation fee, surely people should have this fee included within main cost. People pay on average £700-£750to be cremated this is a massive fee compared to what they get, wouldn’t it be reasonable to let the families witness the scattering and have it covered within this price. I know councils have to be creative to make up budgetary shortfalls, but they must be super sensitive not to target bereaved thinking it is easy money.

Here is what the officials say:

“We are also seeing an increase in illegal scattering of cremated remains in our gardens of remembrance which is potentially due to people not wishing to pay the witness fee and so they scatter the remains themselves. Further increases could see more instances of this occurring and so a freeze on this fee is recommended.”

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member for planning and economic development at the council, said: “We always strongly recommend people do not scatter their ashes there.

“It is only a small amount of people that do it but it is something that has happened.

“We have facilities that we provide – there is a charge – but unfortunately some people do not choose to use these facilities.”

Councillor Paul Brothwood, who is leader of the opposition UKIP group, said families were being asked to pay too much.

He said: “It’s an extortionate fee. That’s the problem when you set fees, people end up doing something. It encourages bad behaviour. It would be far better if they reduced the price. Then more people would pay and it would increase income. When people are suffering at a difficult time it is the last thing they want.”
Original story:http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2016/12/28/revealed-how-families-are-illegally-scattering-loved-ashes-of-loved-ones-to-avoid-charges/#v0WxSmbalyg8twri.99

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locket pendant lost

Lost and found – ashes locket -warming story for Christmas

We all hate losing stuff, but just imagine losing a locket with a loved one’s ashes inside – how distressing would that be. However, on this occasion there was a happy ending.

Last month Bud Crevasse, an octogenarian from Signal Mountain Tennessee, spotted a shiny pendant on the floor of a local car park, he picked it up and on examination realised what it was: a locket containing ashes. And being a very community spirited sort of chap he sought to find its owner. He didn’t have much to go on. The locket was inscribed with one a word name ‘Jack’.

Mr Crevasse tried to think of ways to find the charm’s owner. He called local police departments, but to no avail. Then, he talked to some of his friends at Alexian Village who said he should alert the media, so he called the Times Free Press.

He told the paper: “I saw something shining, and so I picked it up and put it in my pocket,” , “I realized this might be precious to someone,” , “I’ve heard people talk about taking the ashes of a loved one and wearing them on a necklace.”,

He gave the pendant to the reporter and the reporter took it to a local jeweller who observed  that “I would say it’s from a necklace, and the chain broke,”

So, the paper put out an appeal if anyone had lost the locket. Soon after a lady came forward and was able to identify the locket was hers and she was reunited with the ashes of her husband.

I do like a nice story for Christmas.

I think this one has a moral too. If you do have some ashes in a keepsake piece of jewellery please make sure you have some at home too in case of such an eventuality.

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2016/nov/10/lost-locket-appears-contacrematiashes/396967/

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urban ashes environment

How permanent is permanent – when a scattering ashes location changes use

Bill Priddy scattered the ashes of son Will at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth, he chose to scatter his son’s ashes at that spot as his son was based there at the time of his death. Will – a veteran of one tour of Iraq – died in 2005 in a car crash on Salisbury Plain.

However, Bill is now regretting the decision since he learnt that this historic building is being sold off by the Ministry of Defence and the commando regiment are moving out.

And whilst the fate of the building is uncertain there is growing speculation that it could be sold for development. Although there is a desire from many to turn the Citadel into a museum, this is far from certain.

Mr Priddy who placed a memorial bench there for his son says it is “heart-wrenching” the Citadel will no longer be the home of his son’s “beloved” regiment.

He said: “For it to suddenly lose that connection would be a travesty.

“The thought that it could become yucky up-market apartments, or something similar, is quite heart-wrenching.

“He could be buried under God knows what.”

“It isn’t just Will whose ashes are scattered up there, there would have been many others over the years, so I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

“It was a big decision we made as a family to have his resting place there, and at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

My heart goes out to Mr Priddy, it can’t seem fair and he must feel so powerless too. It does raise the question about scattering in an urban environment, places like the citadel and our urban parks seem so untouchable, they have ‘always’ been there and they always will. Clearly this I not the case and then are we to think that cemeteries are the only place that can offer this degree of surety? Maybe, although even cemeteries get moved or built over – Crossrail in London is one example. So, what is permanent, beaches are not, nature moves cliffs and shores, maybe that is the point  – thing change, but somehow it seems better when nature does it (or maybe that it just me). Whilst I have no words that will bring cheer to Mr Priddy it might be an idea yet to decide to consider more poignant rural / protected locations, they aren’t going to knock down Tintagel Castle to build an NCP car park for example…

Original story ://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/dad-of-fallen-plymouth-war-hero-21-regrets-scattering-his-ashes-at-the-citadel/story-29882588-detail/story.html#1A4vHW3L1vMRgaVO.99

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ashes last wishes

To avoid family arguement make your wishes regarding you ashes clear

The number of families asking us to intervene regarding the possession or intent in relation to a loved one’s ashes is remarkably high, considering we are not a solicitor or mediation service.

Many of us pass away without leaving a will let alone expressing what will happen to our ashes. This can lead to a huge amount of stress particularly when there has been stepfamilies and so forth.

As with most things a little planning can ease family tensions. To the end we have put together a same downloadable form [free] for you to make your wishes clear. Whilst these wishes are not legally binding and your request may be impossible (eg a football club that has banned the practice). However, it will give the family a starting point. To add a bit of extra weight get it witnessed and leave it with your solicitor / attach to your will. You may even want to make more than one copy in case one ends up being overlooked.

To download the form follow the link: Last Wishes: My Ashes

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ashes dispute

He who pays the piper – gets the ashes

This is an extreme example of a fairly common problem. A young mother of 24 has been left heartbroken. As she is not able to receive the ashes of her child. She lost her child to cot death at 9 weeks, her controlling and abusive ex-partner who has since been sent to prison nine on charges of assault.

The problem is, he arranged the funeral and signed the paperwork so legally the ashes can only be given to him (or his family) and he is using this fact as another mechanism to control and bully her.

As an aside and to perhaps give a measure of his character he also banned her family from attending and played gangsta rap at the ceremony (nice).

When she found out she could not receive the ashes, She said: ‘I didn’t stop crying all day when I found out. It’s devastating.

‘It felt like a bomb had hit me and exploded. Getting her back was my only chance of comfort and now this happens.’, adding: ‘He even stopped me speaking to my family. It broke me.’

Lorri Turner, senior manager at Adam & Greenwood Funeral Home, where the funeral took place, said he sympathised with Miss Turner but had no choice.

Mr Turner said: ‘Legally, we can only release the ashes to the individual who applied for cremation – in this case the father – or someone appointed by them through appropriate written consent.

There you have it. The law is such a blunt tool sometimes, and I am not sure what the lesson is here, nevertheless a very sad state of affairs.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3822850/Heartbroken-mother-lost-baby-cot-death-left-devastated-abusive-ex-boyfriend-cut-RAZORS-given-child-s-ashes-legal-technicality.html

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Scattering Ashes Service

Scattering Ashes is the nation’s favourite choice!

Fact: 79% of those wishing to be cremated want their ashes scattered.

Which means about 2/3rds of us in total (80% of people are cremated).

The result of a recent YouGov survey confirmed what we have believed for years, if you want to be cremated then most of you want your ashes to be scattered.

The survey of 1,546 adults did throw up some interesting results, firstly 58% prefer cremation when they die, in comparison with 17% of those who would opt for burial. When in fact around 80% of us end up being cremated. The survey pointed to the fact that the older we got the more we tended to choose cremation. While 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds wish to be cremated, this figure rises to 71% among the over-65s. Their spin on it was “perhaps as our bodies wear out and we no longer idolise the idea of trying to preserve them.” I would tend to think the older we get the more practical we get.

So if 79% want to be cremated what do the others want? 7% want their ashes to be kept after they’ve been cremated. The rest ‘don’t know’

The survey also addressed four other questions relating to death and funerals:

  • How long do you want to live for?
  • Are you frightened of death?
  • Is it appropriate to wear colours at a funeral?
  • What about a will?

Covering the first two:

Asked how long they would like to live for, at 44% the most popular answer was to be between 81 and 100 years old. The current UK life expectancy is 81, according to data from the World Bank. This age range was the most popular choice across all age groups, with those aged 65 and older being the most keen at 60%.

Only a fraction of people seem to want to live for as long as they possibly can. The highest option – to live to be 110 or older – was chosen by just 14% of people overall and this figure was broadly consistent across all age groups. Men, however, are significantly more likely to choose this option than women, with 19% of men wanting to live to be 110 or older compared to 9% of women.

Despite their desire to live for longer, men are significantly less likely to be scared of death than women, with nearly six in ten (58%) of men saying they were not afraid of death compared to 42% of women. Overall, half of the population say that they are not afraid of death, whilst a third (32%) say that they are and two in ten (19%) don’t know.

Discussing the results with a friend he came up with a rather witty observation: it is not surprising that blokes aren’t as freighted as death as women, apparently they seem to be convinced it’s further off..

Well we know statistically men don’t live as long, but I would imagine culturally it is more difficult for men to say they are frightened. This is a very tangled web to unweave…

So colours at a funeral. Unsurprisingly the newer you are to the game the more reserved you are, younger people felt safer in black where the older you get the less it seemed to matter.

Wearing black is now only seen as a requirement at funerals by 22% of people. Twice as many (45%) think that wearing other colours is ok, so long as they are dark and sombre, whilst another 29% think it is ok to wear any colour clothing to a funeral.

My take on this: colour is not the issue, it is all about thought and effort, I would much prefer to see someone at a funeral in a colourful paisley pattern suit as opposed to black jeans and t-shirt.

The last question was about making a will, we already know this – it is pitifully small -39%, now in a way that is not so bad, in your 20s and 30s it isn’t top priority but nearly half (45%) of people aged between 50 and 64 still don’t have a will! I hear from so many people – I don’t want to be as burden to my family. Yet they don’t make a will, so if you don’t want burden then don’t! [Sorry, I will calm down now]

There was the quite a few comments as there tends to be on this subject, including the ubiquitous – put me in a cardboard box / I don’t care. To the equally essential element of such things – conspiracy and madness: cremation is popular because of imperial propaganda! [Love it!]

My favourite comment is the following, I can’t imagine why 😉

I thought about this many times as to what should happen to my body when I kick the bucket and fall over. I wouldn’t mind cremation, but if I am getting cremated, I am getting cremated in style with one of those Viking ship burials.

The BBC managed to get a quote from Freddie Sayers, editor-in-chief at YouGov: “It’s always interesting to see real numbers about something that people never really talk about.

“I think these figures lift the lid on one of the great taboo subjects.”

Please don’t call it the great taboo it reinforces historic attitudes to this subject. Still, I am very pleased they did it!

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/16/majority-people-want-be-cremated-when-they-die/

 

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Council policy too blunt? No.

Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult at the best of times and small injustices can become magnified many times over, here we have the case of a lady from Pontypool in Wales, who was organising the burial of her disabled brother’s ashes and because her brother had lived away from the area the local authority charged her double the price for a standard interment.

Gill Willmott’s brother who had Down’s syndrome passed away in June this year, she wanted him laid to rest in the same plot as her parents, but was told instead of the standard £256 charge, she would need to pay an additional £256 because her brother lived away from the area and did not die there.

Mrs Willmott was furious, she said:  “When the funeral director came to say I had to pay an extra £256 I couldn’t believe it. At the time I just paid it as I had just lost my brother and I was grieving – he was a big part of my life.

“I was born in Torfaen; I’ve lived here all my life – my brother was from Torfaen but as he had Down’s syndrome he moved away for specialist care in Newport. It was only 15 minutes away – a couple of miles outside of Torfaen.”

She added: “I’ve been ripped off, it’s not right and my worry is that other people haven’t queried it.”

However, it appears there had been an oversight, whilst the council does have a policy for ‘non-residents’, this doubling fee does not apply to people who have moved out of the county through no fault of their own such as due to ill health or disability.

Mrs Willmott’s brother had been living in Newport for the past 20 years for specialist care.

When the paper contacted the council they said: “We were not aware of Mr Willmott’s personal circumstances when the burial was booked and apologise for the additional charge. Had we been made aware, the family would not have been required to pay the additional fee.

“We will contact the family so we can discuss the matter in person.”

I can see why Mrs Willmott got cross, the policy seemed very unfair, turns out it was an administrative error, which is still very frustrating but a lot better than an uncaring or belligerent policy. One thing, the paper’s leader is slightly misleading. Although “Council make insensitive blunder and then aims to sort it out” doesn’t sell papers.

Original story: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/14686095.Sister_of_disabled_Torfaen_man___39_disgusted__39__she_paid_double_to_bury_his_ashes/

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ashes what to do

Wondering what to do with his wife’s ashes

The following is a cut and paste from the Saturday Guardian (I am never quite sure if I am allowed to do that, but I have fully referenced it!)

It concerns deliberation from a husband on what to do with his wife’s ashes, it is interesting and moving. It also adds a real voice , which you don’t get to hear very often. Two things strike me the first is that he does not want a connection with the ashes, but accepts that other may. Also that fact that he does not appreciate the funeral director’s approach to arrange the transfer of ashes. Anyway have a read it is well worth it.

I don’t know what to do with my wife’s ashes

Ideas range from sprinkling them in the garden or at sea, to shooting them skywards in a firework. None feels right for me

The home phone rings and I grit my teeth. For so long the link to loved ones, with the rise of the mobile the landline has instead become the weapon of choice for scammers and “How are you today?” cold-callers.

“Hello, Adam. It’s Carrie,” says a too-friendly female voice. I do a quick mental Rolodex through the Carries I know, drawing a blank but feeling an inexplicably negative association to the name. Perhaps it is an echo of the Sissy Spacek horror flick? Assuming it’s a cold call, my voice hardens. “What do you want?”

Not noting my tone, hers remains unctuous: “I was wondering if you have decided what to do with Helen?”

Physics says you never hear the bullet that hits you, but I hear this one as it tears the breath from me in the shock of hearing Helen referred to in the present tense. “I’m sorry, but my wife died recently,” I stammer.

She takes a moment, computing my confusion. “It’s Carrie from the funeral directors. I wondered when you wanted to collect Helen?”

Her use of the present tense hits me again like a blow to my solar plexus. I fold on to the stairs by the phone. The negative vibes were not Sissy Spacek’s fault. This Carrie is the woman I sat opposite arranging Helen’s transition from loved wife, mother, daughter and sister to “her body”.

“Can I call you back when I’ve decided?” I put the phone down without waiting for an answer. I assume that their £5,000 bill included indefinite storage of a small urn. Carrie’s question should not have been a surprise, but I have buried its coming because of the shocking gap between the vital, ever optimistic and life-affirming force of nature that was Helen and her new status as an urn of ashes. Carrie wants an answer to another bastard question that I never in my life saw being asked.

I turn to the ever friendly folk at Way, the self-help group (Widowed and Young). There, I find every version of my angst and a cornucopia of inspiration. From sprinkling ashes at home, at sea, on a favourite walk, in a garden of remembrance or mounted on the mantelpiece, shot skywards in a firework or fashioned into jewellery. Every option is clearly the right one for those concerned and perhaps wrong for me.

Way’s input also makes me realise that I am not the only stakeholder. Helen’s parents, Barbara and Ray, her sister, Sarah, and the kids need to feel a “rightness” in what we do. The terrible truth is that, to me, the urn and its dark contents are not Helen. She lives in the vibrancy, laughter and love of Millie and Matt and the values she bequeathed them; not as something inert and spent. I don’t need or want her ashes in any way, but for others they may be a necessary lifelong anchor to her memory.

I investigate a memorial in the form of a more traditional grave. I had hoped this might be in the pretty town-centre churchyard where Helen’s funeral service was held, but discover that it is “closed, I’m afraid”. Churchyards close? You keep living and learning on this dark trip.

So I am in a cemetery close by, near a primary school and railway whose presence adds an appealing animation to the scene. Standing with the kind council officer, I’m struck that the next-in-line new grave plots are horrific, with body-shaped piles of earth on the recent burials. Too much for the kids (and me).

Walking into the older section, I see a plot closer to what I had in mind – end of a row, under a tree and by a bench surrounded by mature graves. I’m not hopeful, but ask about its availability. “It would be unusual and normally with tree roots wouldn’t be usable, but you’re putting ashes in so I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

I see again how kind people can be and also how awful every facet of having this conversation is. Nothing is fine. I leave it for now, maybe for months – or ideally for ever – but I also know that every time I walk to the station past the funeral directors where Helen’s remains remain, it chips away another piece of me so I will have to act eventually to stay sane. Just not yet.

Adam Golightly is a pseudonym

@MrAdamGolightly

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jul/30/i-dont-know-what-to-do-with-my-wifes-ashes?

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memorialisation nottingham

A problem with personal memorialisation in Nottingham Crematoria’s communal woodland

The needs of the individual will often come into conflict with the needs many, and here is a case in point. Ms Kara Thrall scattered the ashes of her mother and grandmother in the same spot in Nottingham’s Wilford Hill Crematorium in the communal woodland.

On the 3rd anniversary of her death Ms Thrall visited the spot and was distressed to find a notice from the council saying keepsakes left must be removed or the council will need to remove them for her. This upset Mrs Thrall deeply.

She said: “I just can’t understand the problem. It was quite upsetting because to me it’s comforting to have those items there. They are unique and don’t take up much space. They are just small mementos which mean something to us.”

She went onto say “We’re not taking up much space” , “It’s not like a grave. They are only little tokens.”

In fact she and her friend Ms Dawson (who had had a similar experience) felt so aggrieved they carried out a protest in Old Market Square on in opposition to the council’s policy.

Ms Dawson said: “It’s just devastating. The council is saying they look untidy, but if you go up in person – and I go regularly – they are pretty decorations which are tasteful. They are all looked after, many of them have fresh flowers every week. I just can’t see any harm in it. I understand her [Ms Thrall’s] frustration.”

Wanting to have a place to memorialise can be so very important to many people and the anguish of not be able to express memorialisation in their way can be extremely saddening for the individual. They may even hold council responsible for the diminishing the memory of that loved one.

However in this case I must say without wish to ignore the hurt caused I feel the needs of the many trump the needs of the few, the rules were in place before Ms Thruall scattered so presumably she could have taken note of what one is allowed to do and chosen a different place to scatter where she would have been allowed to use the site in the way she wished. This woodland is communal and thus a shared space for memorialisation and if it is a shared space then it has to be suitable for the majority. Nottingham city council appear to have considered this Eddie Curry their Head of Parks and Open Space, said: “Our woodland area is for general use to scatter the cremated remains of loved ones. It is used by a great number of people and there are rules about what can and cannot be placed there, so that it can remain tidy and pleasant for all those who use it. However, some families have placed unauthorised memorials there, leading to complaints from other visitors to the cemetery.

“We are gradually and sensitively carrying out a process to remove unauthorised items, with plenty of information and staff on site to explain why this is necessary. When items are eventually removed, anything of sensitive value is bagged and retained for collection, with the only things disposed of being items such as stones, kerb edgings or fencing and related materials

“Where we have already cleared areas, there is a significant improvement to the look of the area as we are able to fully maintain it and cut the grass. Many families have understood and accepted this approach and have moved items to the new seasonal areas we have developed.”

Nottingham City Council is overhauling its management of Wilford Hill Crematorium, including its Woodland Walk and Garden of Rest areas. It is still allowing “temporary memorialisation items” but says they will be removed “once decay begins”.

The authority says its guidelines make the crematorium fit the needs of all its users and helps them keep it clean and tidy. You can lay down: flowers, cards, balloons, Christmas wreaths and floral tributes.

But grievers are not permitted to place windmills, lantern hooks, solar lights, small fences or anything that is pushed into the ground. They are also banned from leaving “large amounts of memorial items” at their loved ones’ resting places. Other “more permanent” items can be placed in four seasonal memorial beds or in the bricked troughs in the Woodland Walk and Garden of Rest.

This to me doesn’t seem unreasonable for a rule that applies to all, it is probably impossible for grieving individuals to see that their needs can’t trump everyone else’s. I am not a fan of the ‘thin end of the wedge’ type argument as it is often used to mask ulterior motives. But when there is a clearly a likelihood that the original intention (in this case a woodland walk) being impacted then there needs to be a policy. I totally understand Ms Thrall upset she can’t be expected to see that what she considers to be a small issue has larger implications it is too close and too personal.  I very much doubt she will be thinking ‘well if 500 people are scattered here a year and 50% chose to place some form of memorialisation then after 4 year there will be 1000 individual shrines, which may detract from the serenity of the woods’ she may be along the lines ‘we only want a little spot to come and reflect, this is my mum and nan for pities’ sake’

It is tough for all concerned, and whilst it may be too late for Ms Thrall, it should be incumbent upon all such site managers when arranging a scattering for a family to make crystal clear what is and isn’t permissible. Then armed with the facts the family can choose an alternative location if so desired.

Original story: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Daughter-unhappy-having-remove-crematorium/story-29391820-detail/story.html#ixzz4BXo3dRWj

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hospital school boy ashes

The media step in to help a school pupil get access to his mum’s ashes

The Eastern Daily Press (the daily paper covering Norfolk) and Evening News have waded in to help a young man get access to mother’s ashes. Caleb Manship was left orphaned in February 2016

Caleb who is still at school age was hoping to scatter her ashes at their favourite park in Blakeney, Norfolk. But there was a problem.

Because the hospital needed to pay for the cost of his mother’s funeral he was allegedly told he was not at liberty to remove the ashes; as it was policy to have the ashes scattered at the garden of remembrance, although he was able to choose from a handful of dates to witness the event.

He said: “I felt disgusted because they were not even going to let me choose a date and they know I am in the middle of my GCSEs.

“My mum agreed where she wanted them to go and she used to go to that park a lot even without me. She just loved it there.”

Indeed this does seem appalling; the hospital spokesperson explained “Families are always informed of the date and time of the funeral and invited to attend,”.

“As part of the contract made with the funeral director, the crematorium retains the patient’s ashes and invites any relatives to scatter the ashes in a ceremony at the crematorium.

“In this case, arrangements have been made for the ashes to be released to the son.”

So good news in the end.

Caleb added: “It is a really big relief just to know I can get them and do what I want to do with them, rather than someone try to force what they want to do on me.”

What is also good news after such a traumatic time is that family friends have agreed to look after him along with their own two children.

Mr Westrop (Caleb’s new guardian) said: “We were waiting to hear from them about the ashes. We assumed you could collect them and Caleb could do what he wanted with them.

“But they said they weren’t going to release the ashes and said that because the hospital paid for the cremation, the ashes belonged to them.”

Sense prevails. Still poor lad, heartbreaking.

Original story: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/edp_and_evening_news_helps_school_boy_get_access_to_mother_s_ashes_1_4554701

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charges over ashes scattering

Charging for families to witness a scattering ceremony

Local Authorities are often at the sharp end of public anger when it comes to bereavement services, in extreme cases like the baby ashes scandal at Morten Hall or issues around removal of memorial items from a grave plot.

I tend not to be partisan on behalf of the public, councils often have a difficult path to tread, particularly with increasing financial pressure. But, when they do cross a line in this area it is woeful, they seem insensitive, greedy and intransigent.

Sadly, this would seem to be the case here. The family of the late Peter Robert Dale were told that if that if they wanted to witness the scattering of ashes at Wakefield Crematoria in Yorkshire, they would need to pay £70 for the privilege.

Wakefield Council had started charging the £70 fee at the Standbridge Lane crematorium last year (2015).

The family considered this to be abhorrent, Mr Dale’s family had already paid several thousand of pounds for his funeral. Then hundreds more for a book of remembrance entry and bronze plaque at the crematorium in Crigglestone. Now they are being asked to pay this fee which they think is unjustified (and I tend to agree).

Three years has gone since Mr Dale’s passing and his wife Betty considered that the scattering the ashes on the anniversary of his death would be appropriate. So they spoke to the crematorium to arrange this it was then they were told they must either pay £70 – or hand the ashes over to crematorium staff to scatter in private for free, as Mr Dale’s son Jason described it “when they got the chance”.

Jason went on to say “It should be the bereaved’s God given right to be there at the last goodbye free of charge, or at most with the cost included as part of the cremation fee like it used to be. It is unfair to those on limited incomes, frankly it is downright disrespectful.”

I find myself agreeing with Mr Dale. I understand the Local Authorities face financial pressure; I understand that they need to find new ways to generate income streams. However this has to be sensitive and proportionate. And this approach is neither.

One can presume, but not know, the authority thought – well if it takes x amount time out of an ordinary day to accommodate a family’s wishes, then we should be able to recoup that. One I would argue £70 is excessive, I would guess that they had arrived at the figure by some magical formula adding hourly rates to ‘on costs’ and transaction fees – but they have lost the point. The Authority are holding a family to ransom here, not only would people quite rightly think this comes as part of the deal but the actual cost appears disproportionate to the effort require.

I would argue that the additional effort should be rolled in the cremation fee which would mean a very negligible increase.

The other option would be for the authority to say when they will scatter, eg “we carry out scatterings on Friday mornings 10 -12, your ashes will be scattered around 11am, should you wish to attend”

So Local Authorities, PLEASE, think then think again when you make such decisions as they can lead to a lot of ill feeling.

 

Original story: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/charges-over-ashes-scattering-1-7870221#ixzz47lnlegmg

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Dying Matters

Cost and Meaning: Dying Matters – Dying Matters Week May 2016

Dying Matters

I was speaking to funeral director the other day. I was discussing with him changes in attitudes today’s funerals. He was bemoaning by the ring round society: “I have got Wiggins and Son on the other line and they can do a bunch of flowers for fifty quid less than you, can you match it?”

He thought it was demeaning and unbecoming, the Brits obsession to ‘get a bargain’ now seems to have pervaded into this hitherto bastion of decorum. He did not want to work in a business that reduced the sanctity of death to a haggle. But I suspect he will have to get used to it.

Many of us (myself included) celebrate the fact that death is less of a taboo, that clients are selecting an ending that suits the way they lived their life and are not pinned down by tradition. However this reduction in fear does come in many forms and one is clearly that people are becoming less afraid to discuss costs and value for money. Funerals are a significant expense, choices made may seem rushed and despite the sensitive nature of the vast majority of funeral directors, excessive costs can be incurred at a period of extreme stress. Decisions are made outside of our normal frameworks, as our standard approach is to look to see what others did or do – pallbearers, limos etc.

The funeral director was relating the story of a client who had used them for their father, but then the chap was pleased as punch that by using an alternative company he had managed to get his mother ‘dispatched’ at half the price, and it seemed not matter to the man that the reverence and ceremony were sacrificed at the same time … money money money.

Let’s not get away from the fact that cost is a real issue. No one should get their family into unaffordable debt. Yet on the other side one should not underestimate the regret that people can suffer if they had put all the emphasis on cost when there was a choice. I am not arguing to spend more. I would suggest that we all just want: value for money, choice, freedom to express ourselves and a dignified departure for our loved one.

People should have the right to shop around but when money becomes the primary focus and the game becomes to dispatch at the cheapest cost it may be less dignified. But more importantly cost does not necessarily equate to meaning. I have been to funerals where no expense was spared and to some on a very tight budget – yet the meaningfulness came from the thought involved rather than the amount of money spent.

This is a ceremony, not necessarily joyous such as a wedding or a christening, but equally as important to my mind. Speaking to people who have attended a meaningful funeral is revealing, yes there is sadness but there can be a sense of doing it ‘right’.

Work out what would add meaning and what you can afford or would wish to spend. A wicker coffin with all the trimmings, a pint of bitter or glass of champagne at the wake for the guests, ashes in a firework display or a simple  pledge from each of the guests. It is about thought not cost.

For more information about Dying Matters Week visit their website

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gay rights same sex ashes

Gay Rights and cremated remains

Gay right issues are at the forefront of a progressive liberal society, I think we all know that. But I didn’t think they would ever cross over with the world of ashes. Well they have.

Marco Bulmer-Rizzi, a British man lost his husband in a tragic accident whilst on holiday in South Australia in January, where same-sex marriage is not recognised.

David, his husband, was cremated in Australia and then Marco Bulmer Rizzi travelled with the ashes to Hong Kong. Gay marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong either and when Marco told them ‘it’s my husband’ (thus he was next of kin), the Hong Kong authorities tried to take the ashes away from him.

‘She wanted to open the box. And I said, “These are human remains. It’s my husband. My husband died while we were in Australia.” She just looked at me and said, “I need to take this away.”

Apparently, Marco kicked up once heck of a stink and refused to hand over the ashes. ‘I felt like I was losing him again,’ he told Buzzfeed. ‘All I wanted was to be able to travel with David’s ashes on me so he wouldn’t have to travel back by himself.’

Eventually staff relented and he was allowed to travel on with them.

‘The government could have simply issued me a letter saying I was David’s next of kin,’ he says [I think they are referring to the British Government here, but I am not sure]. According to the report he is now meeting with the consulate to find out how it can better serve those in a similar situation abroad.

Poor chap, on top of all that tragedy. To have your relationship invalidated in such away, let us hope some good can come of it.

We would suggest if you find yourself in a similar situation it may be wise contacting the consulate in the country of destination ahead of travel, including stop off destinations.

Original story: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/airport-security-confiscated-husbands-ashes/#gs.zL8oAwY

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exhume ashes oxford

A change of mind is not a good enough reason

Seeking to exhume a loved one’s ashes is difficult when they are buried on Church land, you will need to apply to the Consistory Court of the diocese and demonstrate: exceptional circumstance.

On the blog we like to report any case we come across so that you can get a better pictures as to what the Court needs to grant an application.

Mrs Tollis submitted a petition to have her husbands remains exhumed from a churchyard in Oxfordshire. Mrs Tollis, a practising Roman Catholic, was left to determine her husband’s resting place: who passed away in 2013. He did not express an opinion and was not religious. So with the approval of the family she chose to inter in the local churchyard – St Peter’s, Wootton, Boars Hill in Oxford.

However, Mrs Tollis said she “came to realise quite quickly that [she] had made a serious error of judgement”, on deeper reflection she considered Antibes, in France, would be a more appropriate as this is where he had spent a greater part of his life and felt very attached too.

Mr Tollis thought that she had superimposed her own religious belief over the top of her husband’s religious indifference. She said she had an “acute and distressing feeling of incompletion, and a very real need to have a sadly mistaken decision put right”.

Unfortunately, although there was sympathy for Mrs Tollis’ plight (whose application was supported by the Priest and family) the court felt they had to follow precedent and rejected the application. The Chancellor of Oxford, the Revd Alexander McGregor, said that he was legally bound to follow the principles of law governing exhumation issued by the Court of Arches in the Blagdon Cemetery case ([2002] Fam 299).

The court reported that although Mrs Tollis found herself in a stressful situation, and had serious concerns about the choice she made in 2014, her state of mind did not approach the “serious psychiatric or psychological problems”, where there was medical evidence demonstrating a link with the location of the grave.

And, although Mr Tollis had had strong connections with Antibes, he had not expressed any particular wishes about the place where he should be buried. It was not, therefore, a case where the wishes of a deceased had not been complied with, and where a family were trying to put matters right, the Chancellor said.

Mr Tollis was not a practising Christian, and, therefore, St Peter’s churchyard may not have had any particular significance for him; but there was no evidence that he would have objected to being buried there, and Mrs Tollis’s decision to inter his remains there could not be criticised.

The Chancellor said that this case could not be distinguished from what the Court of Arches categorised as a change of mind on the part of those responsible for the interment.

So a change of mind does not count, these sad case will continue to crop up, the Church is unlikely to change precedent on this for many years if at all. Our advise is: take your time before you decide – there is no rush.

Original story: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/8-april/news/uk/oxford-court-denies-faculty-to-take-cremated-remains-to-antibes

 

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photographing a scattering cereomny

Should I take photos at a scattering ashes ceremony?

The rise and rise of capturing every moment of our lives appears un-reversible, from the moment a new baby comes into the world they are captured in almost every aspect of their life. However there still appears to be certain taboos: funerals are an obvious example. As someone recently expressed to me: why would anyone want to look back at such a sad time? Yet there are funeral photographers who are employed to capture the occasion, as often these events are the only time a family comes together and therefore present a valuable opportunity recording family and friends.

A scattering ceremony (#4thceremony) is similar in many ways but arguably ‘once removed’, a scattering ceremony has the potential to have a more celebratory perceptive on someone’s life, loves, passions and achievements conducted after the initial raw grief has subsided.

So the dilemma (or reluctance) therefore is perhaps less, a family occasion with sadness obviously, but also positive reflection.

Personally I think it is a good idea to take photos (I did so myself and I am pleased I did), but I would suggest not everything needs to be captured if you don’t want it to be. I would consider the two most important subject matters to be the guests and the location. The physical act of scattering may be too personal or intimate and not necessarily desirable. The wonderful thing about pictures as opposed to video is that they create a scene and a mental image complimenting the power of the mind to project a memory in the way we wish.

Which brings me around to a final point, what about video? Again this a personal preference but I am not so keen, particularly of the act of scattering itself, I am not sure I see the point, but then again we are all different. However it does have one advantage and this does not come from the imagines it comes from the words, the recording of voices and emotions are powerful at such a poignant time. So maybe capturing post event reflections at the scene could be desirable.

Finally I would like to undermine my whole stance by saying it is not for anyone to tell you what to do at your ceremony. It is for you to do decide what you wish – photograph don’t photograph video don’t video – it is your choice.

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scattering ceremony shrophire

A family scattering ceremony in Shropshire

Family scattering ceremony in Shropshire

The following piece is copied unedited straight from the Family Section of the Guardian newspaper. I believe it captures a very British scattering ceremony: the emotions, the situation and the actions – I would encourage everyone to read it.

You would never think to take a screwdriver when scattering your grandmother’s ashes. At least, I didn’t. I may have spent many happy afternoons rooting through her toolbox (she is still the only grandmother I’ve ever met who owned her own set of files and wrenches) but it simply didn’t occur to me that we might have to come tooled up for the occasion.

At the beginning of this year, my mother, sister, new boyfriend and two women who, like all the best friends, have become adopted members of our chosen family, trudged up a muddy hill in the middle of rural Shropshire to return my grandmother to the land from which she sprang.

It was neither grand nor particularly remote. It smelled of wet grass and wood smoke. But it was, nonetheless, apt. For my grandmother, born in 1916 and who lived her entire life in a single county, was a woman absolutely of the earth – she had a voice like gravel, a will like granite, grew food in her own soil and was the rock on which an entire family was built. Throughout my turbulent life, she was the only person I could ever place with absolute certainty. I knew, without doubt, where she was sitting, when she was eating and what she was doing at any hour of any day. She was immovable, elemental. When she wore a girdle, kissing her face was like climbing a rock face; when she was saying goodnight, she was as soft as moss.

So I found myself sliding up a pocked and tufted hill overlooking the village of Much Wenlock, in jodhpurs and heeled boots, carrying a wooden box of her ashes. Ironically, for a family whose sporting achievements begin and end with the ability to get out of a chair unaided, this was also the birthplace of PE, thanks to that tyrant of the string vest William Penny Brookes, who held the first Olympian Games there in 1850. God knows what Brookes would have made of our wheezing ascent. There were a few, quiet murmurs of alarm as we shambled our way past a herd of huge, horned cows. The wind whipped around my ears and the rain continued to fall. It wasn’t exactly ancient Greece but it did feel like an odyssey.

Then, as so often in life, things descended from epic to farce. My mother slid her fingers under the lid of the small engraved box in which my grandmother’s ashes had spent Christmas and New Year, and pulled. It didn’t budge. She pulled again. Absolutely nothing.

As a cold drop of rain trickled down the inside of my jumper, we turned the box over to discover that the entire thing was screwed shut. Firmly, undeniably shut. We held our breath. There was silence. I began to laugh. Quiet, embarrassed snorts at first, but these soon gave way to full, honking, goose-like laughter. Here we were, standing in a grieving circle, upon this blasted heath, teeth chattering, cowering under umbrellas, clutching soggy bits of paper scrawled in ink with eulogy and prayer, trying to break into the last earthly remains of my most loved grandmother. There was nothing to do but laugh.

The ribbon on which life is held is bound on one side with laughter and the other side with grief. This is as true in the moment of memorial as it is in celebration. So I feel no guilt for my laughter. My grandmother was an incredibly funny woman. She had more witty comebacks, more withering one-liners and more razor-sharp insights than anyone I’ve ever met. Never cruel, never boring, never imposing – she could simply tell it like it was and in the process charm an entire room. So I think – hope – she would have laughed too. After all, this was the woman who could drink jockeys under the table. This was the woman who flirted with the handyman who came to fix her bed after the combined weight of overnight guests had bent its frame. This was the woman who laughed to the point of tears when her son tickled her. This was the woman who told us all on her birthday last July that she would wait to see Christmas and then let go.

In the absence of a multitool, I had a go at some of the screws with my smallest house key. They didn’t budge. My poor boyfriend searched his pockets desperately for a pen knife. Nothing. Finally, my mother marched right back down the hill and knocked on the door of the nearest farm. In her best demanding voice, she asked if she could borrow a screwdriver, “So I can scatter my mother under that tree.”

The man on the threshold barely flinched before padding into his kitchen to look for a suitable tool.

At last, as we huddled in the rose bushes giggling, a screwdriver was located. Once again, we began our sole-sucking, watery ascent to that tree, overlooking that hill and the old vicarage in which my mother was raised. Perhaps it is easier to be practical in the face of death in the countryside. After all, not more than 20 feet away, in an old red brick outbuilding, my mother used to peer in at the small furry bodies of pets and livestock that could not be saved by my grandfather’s gentle, veterinary hands. Death and life turn like a wheel across rural England, through days, through seasons and through years. You cannot have one without the other. Just as you cannot have laughter without also knowing sadness.

Once we’d got to the top of the hill, my mother held the small bag of ashes – the dust and grit to which we all must, eventually, return – against her chest. My sister said the prayer taught to us all by my grandmother. We looked at an old photograph, I said a few words. The rain fell, the cows tore leaves from brittle branches, a windmill turned in the distance. And then it was time to let her go. To scatter to the earth and air the last tangible pieces of a woman who will live on not just in anecdote but in our genes; the curls in my hair, the blood in my mother’s thumbs, the beating of my sister’s heart.

As I watched a cloud of whiteness skirt dangerously close to my boyfriend’s coat, watched specks of grey settle on the hoof print of a cow, saw ash mingle with earth and rain, I continued to smile. Later, as we trudged back down the hill for a pub lunch, returning that vital screwdriver and steaming our coats before an open fire, we carried on laughing. Because that is what families do.

Families are collections of people woven together by shared stories – some dramatic, some tragic and some hilarious. We live and die in the tales we tell. We are knitted into being not just with blood, but also with words. And so this story about my grandmother’s ashes is one I hope to tell my own grandchildren one day.

The central mishap of urn, brings out the humour that is so often present yet sometimes denied or tinged with guilt. What is more it can’t be the first time this has happened to a family and now although most people opt for scattering the information that was needed on the practical side clearly had not been passed on.

It is interesting I see that the family had considered the aspects of their ceremony before embarking on their ‘odyssey’: the photo the prayer the words. And notable too was that they had not held on for better weather nor that the group was entirely made up of the family quorum, but included non-family members too.

This is not an untypical ceremony even down to the perilously near miss with the ashes on the wind. One final point on the choice of location: the vantage point, where the location allowed the group to take-in more visual aspects of their loved one’s world.

A beautiful piece Nell Frizell, considered, eloquent and thoughtful.

Here is a link to the original article: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/23/we-saw-gran-off-on-a-hilltop-with-a-touch-of-farce-and-a-screwdriver

 

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ashes exhumation lincolnshire

Is the Church of England softening its stance on exhumation of ashes?

We feedback any reports we come across in the press on exhumation of ashes, we do this so you can start to understand the stance and precedents set by the Church of England.  We hope to help you in deciding whether your case may be considered worthy enough to meet the CoE’s stance of ‘exceptional circumstance’. Recently a lady wanted the ashes moving as she was no longer able to access her husband’s grave due to infirmity and in another where a lady was moving closer to her children and wanted to have her husband ashes reburied closer to her new abode. Both cases we rejected. The position put for by the Chancellor of the Diocese as judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court,  (the person responsible for deciding) stated that in both cases these circumstances could have been reasonably foreseen.

However a recent case involving a 92 year old widow in Lincolnshire there appears, from the outside at least, to be slightly milder in its approach taken.

Italian-born Mrs Glover sought permission to exhume the ashes of her late husband who died in 1990, so that they could be taken to the family mausoleum at Bisceglie, Puglia, in the southern Italy. This is where she intends her ashes to be placed.

The argument for her request was centred around the fact that when she dies there will be no-one left in England left to care for the grave yet in Italy the family will continue to tend the mausoleum there.

The Chancellor, slightly ironically called Mr Bishop, said: “The principle of permanence can only be departed from if there are special circumstances which justify an exception to the principle that Mr Glover was laid to rest in 1991 and his remains should not now be disturbed.”

He went on to say: “I am satisfied that this is one of those exceptional cases where I can authorise the exhumation of the cremated remains so that they may be reinterred in the family grave in Italy.

“I accept that Mrs Glover is concerned about what will happen to her husband’s plot, and her own, after she has passed away. I am sure that that Mr and Mrs Glover’s graves would be properly cared for in those circumstances by the [council] ensuring that the churchyard was tended, but I recognise the distress she feels about no family member being around to care for their plots and visit the graves.”

He added: “I wish Mrs Glover well.” A nice touch I thought.

I am pleased for Mrs Glover, although I am surprised as one might have expected the ‘reasonably foreseen’ argument trotted out. And whilst we should not see graves as the soil based equivalent of a gym locker, I think it is good to see the Church relaxing their stance in this instance. Personally I think the church foremost principle for compassion is right to take precedent here – well done Mr Bishop and the CofE.

Original article http://www.granthamjournal.co.uk/news/local/widow-given-permission-to-exhume-husband-s-ashes-from-churchyard-in-barrowby-and-send-to-italy-1-7130214

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burial of ashes

Is it grave robbing or grounds maintenance?

Darren Bibb is angry with Solihull Council: accusing them of grave robbing!  Mr Bibb’s disabled son passed away just after his 18th birthday in 2011, and the family decided to place a stone memorial over where his ashes are buried on the grass and adjacent to the headstone. But the council has removed the memorial stone.

Mr Bibb said: ‘Joseph’s ashes are actually placed just in front of the headstone, which is effectively a walkway. So to stop people stepping on where the ashes had been placed, we placed a commemorative stone there. We did not want people stepping all over him. It is also extremely muddy there and this stone also allows us to tend to the grave.

It’s just disgusting that someone can be allowed to come along, remove treasured possessions and just dump them. I know it sounds extreme, but they are like grave robbers.”

The council has removed a large number of items from the burial site, which has upset a number of families. They have not thrown the items away, but gathered them and stored them in plastic boxes which many think has not been done in a respectful way.

Solihull Council said: “regulations do not permit the placing of items on the grassed area.

We realise this is a very sensitive issue and try to balance the needs and wishes of all users of our cemeteries. However, regulations do not permit the placing of items on the grassed area of cremated remains plots as it can cause problems with access to graves for other visitors and affect the standards of grounds maintenance.

As there were increasing numbers of items being left in such a way at Woodlands Cemetery which was causing problems for other visitors, users were notified in August that any items in these grassed areas would need to be removed by 31 October 2015. Any items left after this date would be removed and stored on site.

If visitors are unsure whether an item they wish to place is permitted, we ask that they contact the cemetery for further guidance before placing the item on the grave.”

This is another case of a monolithic authority going about it business, doing what it needed to do but in the wrong way. And relatives not necessarily understanding the wider needs of the Authority. People’s loved one’s resting places is one of the most sensitive areas, and Councils need to be ultra-sensitive on this area, not just in their rhetoric but in their deeds too.

For me there is a number of difficult and perhaps unavoidable differences. The rise and rise of personal site memorialsation – no longer is there just flowers, there are photos and all sorts of keepsake left at the graveside, and this makes grounds maintenance very difficult. In addition the lack of space in many urban cemeteries means that remains are packed in very tightly as we can see here, the net results is that people access a plot via a muddy path which actually goes over the top of where the ashes are interred.

interment dispute

Sadly, if everybody did as Mr Bibb did there would be no access for others wishing to memorialise their relatives. However, the council in writing a letter, no matter how are ‘right’ they were according to the rules they should consider that this was always likely to incense people.

I would suggest two things, one make cemeteries less packed in even if means there are less places, as this to me does not look dignified (although I doubt everyone would agree). Secondly, that council officers dealing with the bereaved (even those arms-length) are equipped to do this: whether an awareness raising run through a bereavement organisation or perhaps opportunities to meet families and understand how they feel.

 

Original story: http://www.itv.com/news/central/2016-01-05/grieving-father-labels-solihull-council-grave-robbers-after-keepsake-removed-from-sons-grave/

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child breavement

Memorialising premature and neonatal cremations

The Mortonhall and Shrophire tragedies have highlighted the extremely sensitive issue of ashes from premature or neonatal deaths.

The loss of a baby brings extreme grief to families. One additional issue is that with some very small babies the bones have not yet formed and as such there is no ashes left to collect.

The lack of a tangible reminder of the baby very often exacerbates the grief as there is nothing  physical of the child left to focus the memory or the grief upon.

So I thought this was well worth sharing, Mark Armstrong, who has spent 20 years in the funeral industry, has come up with idea that may help grieving families: a small metal disc that is engraved and then goes through the cremation process with a baby. So that even if there are not any ashes left, the disc will contain carbon elements from the infant and provide a connection.

He said: “It’s a leap forward. It’s providing security that’s never been seen in this country before. Instead of getting nothing back from the cremated remains, families get this disc – they’re going to take comfort from that. The disc will have been on the baby and they’ll draw comfort from that for the rest of their lives. I’ve had to deal with these families who’ve had nothing returned to them.

“When crematoriums have been cremating babies and small children the families haven’t had the ashes returned.

“You never get anything back from really small babies – with this you would get something.”

The discs are two inches big and are made from specialist stainless steel. They come in a box which can also be personalised with with things like a poem, photo or lock of hair. He has call the business Keep me Close, as yet I don’t have any more details. But when I do I will share them.

This was based on an article I found in the Horncastle News  http://www.horncastlenews.co.uk/news/local/lasting-reminder-for-bereaved-1-7100454

 

 

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what to does with ashes

What to do with ashes?

One of the most frequently asked questions is – what to do with ashes?

You can choose to:

  • Keep them
  • Bury them
  • Scatter them

If you want to keep them, then consider

  • Do you want to keep all or some of them
  • If all then you will need to think whether you want them in the:
    • Garden
    • Home

If you want to keep some of them, then consider

  • A keepsake urn
  • Ashes into glass
  • Memorial jewellery

If you want to scatter, then consider the location, there are quite a few options

  • Land
    • Have you considered planting a memorial tree
    • You will need permission from the land owner
  • Sea / water / lake
    • do you want to hire a boat for a bit more privacy
    • do you want to scatter on a beach
  • In the air? then consider:
    • ashes in a firework
    • from a plane
    • skydiving in tandem
    • into the stratosphere

Do you want to bury the ashes, here are some choices

  • Church burial ground
  • Local authority cemetery (secular)
  • Green burial ground
  • Private land
  • Your own garden

There are more ‘out there’ options such being turned into a vinyl record or in a memorial tattoo.

If you have a different preference to other significant loved ones, discuss the matter and consider the option of splitting the ashes.

This website is dedicated to this very question, so if you can’t find what want, just ask.

 

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coffin cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated

Do they burn the coffin when you get cremated?

The question, do coffins get cremated with the body is a frequently asked. To those in the funeral industry this often met with a surprised or bemused look, the answer is: yes, of course.

However the fact the question is asked on such a frequent basis mean that this is not universally known or understood. But why should it be? Most people prefer not to dwell on such issues, why would they?

Apparently there are certain companies in North America that will rent out one of those grand caskets, like the ones you see in the Soprano’s (these are not very common in the UK) and then after the funeral the body is transferred to a more simple coffin for the cremation.

In the UK once the coffin is sealed, that is it. The coffin, the body and anything the person is wearing (including jewellery) will be cremated.

The heat and duration of the process means that the only thing that are left are those that do not combust (burn) – bones and the metal parts e.g. metal nails from the coffin and false hips etc.

The metal parts are removed and in many British crematoria these are now recovered with the proceeds going to good causes. The remainder of the cremated remains, which is the bone matter, is reduced to a granular powder known as ashes. This is what you will receive back from the crematoria or funeral director.

Our advice. Remove jewellery from the deceased, even items such as wedding rings. Whilst you may think that they never took of in life and it should stay with them through the process, it is perhaps better that it is passed on, placed in a memory box or incorporated into another piece of jewellery. Important jewellery is link to a person life and should stay that way.

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creamtion ashes family not present

The case of the Cremation without the family knowing

This is the sad case of Mr Fitzpatrick who passed way in August. He had suffered depression for some time and it is believed he committed suicide. At the time he was living on his own, his children had left home and he was estranged from his partner, with whom we was still on good terms and would regularly visit.

When he passed away, his ex partner asked the local authority to make the arrangements, as there was no money available from the family. The local authority, in this case North Ayrshire Council,  is obliged to do this, in their words: ‘The Council can be asked to step in to arrange and pay for funerals under the National Assistance Act when there is no known next of kin or no arrangements are being made by others for the deceased’

‘As such, responsibility is relinquished to the Council and the appropriate arrangements are made in line with the legislation.

‘In such cases any interested person is entitled to inquire about times and dates, and arrangements for ashes.

‘We were contacted by a member of the public who wanted to be notified of the date of his funeral.

‘We contacted the member of public on September 9 and left a voicemail message telling her the funeral was scheduled for September 15.

So the council says they left a voicemail to inform Ms McFadyen of the date of the funeral. Ms McFadyen denies receiving the voicemail. Consequently there was no family present at Mr Fitzpatrick’s funeral. This has outraged Mrs McFadyen, who thinks North Ayrshire Council have been negligent in their duties and she has filed a complaint.

Firstly, this is all very sad and one must feel compassion for the family in their grief. Secondly, if all the council considers they are obliged to do to fulfil any moral obligation is to leave a message on an answer phone then I would suggest that that is a long way from what most of us would consider a reasonable approach.

The question is it just black and white case of who is wrong? Ms McFayden said “saying goodbye is a right everyone should have.” Which is right, but are the council the only ones culpable in this, is there any apportionment of responsibility (not blame) for the family. Funerals aren’t cheap and funeral poverty is a real issue. When it is a choice between feeding the family rather than picking up the bill for a family member’s funeral then I am sure that is a truly tough decision. It would appear that only his eighteen year old son was involved, who is unlikely to be have the means. However, when one makes the choice to relinquish the responsibility, to what extent does that mean and does one also relinquishes any ‘rights’ too? I am not suggesting that what the family choose to do was wrong or that it was an easy decision to make. What I am saying is, if that is the choice made, even if another way seems impossible, there is still some responsibility to keep matter under control as much as possible and not necessarily leave the entire onus on a council officer who may be desensitised to such situations.

Ms McFadyen comments is telling: ‘I was so angry and upset. Alan had no family there – he was all alone. Me and our son were devastated. We wanted to say goodbye and lay him to rest. It’s not like messing up an order or a purchase. You can’t cremate someone twice.’ Which is right, but legally it wasn’t her ‘order’ to mess up.

I do think it is appropriate at this point to plug the brilliant campaign from the Quakers Fair Funerals, which is promoting more affordable services so that the family can retain control.

I also hope some good will come of this and the North Ayrshire (and other councils) will take heed and understand that leaving ‘an’ answerphone message does not amount to satisfying their duty of care, and that their procedures are updated to making reasonable endeavours.

Of some relief to the family is that they were able to retrieve the ashes before they were scattered at the garden of remembrance, so hopeful they will be able have a meaningful ceremony to commemorate the life of someone they loved.

Original story was reported widely, I mainly used the one reported in the Daily Mail

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scattering ashes methods

How to scatter ashes: 5 different ways

Here is how to scatter ashes? Here are 5 ways to make your ceremony even more memorable

  1. Casting: is the act of throwing the cremation ashes to the wind or usually just called scattering. There are a number of thing you should consider.
  • they are more ashes than you realise they can cover quite an area, they are made up of large grain size to dust and therefore some will be carried easily on the wind.
    • we would suggest you invest in a scattering tube or urn they are far more dignified than the plastic container you receive from the crematorium. There is no absolute need, here is our selection of scattering urns, if that is something you think who help
  • keep the urn below waist height to minimise where the ashes can blow to
  • make sure party members are up wind, often not considered and it can cause distress in the ashes blow on to people
  • don’t just turn the container upside down unless you have a rake, it can be quite undignified should you then need level the ashes.

Do you physical touch the ashes? – This is up to you, many people find this too distressing or macabre, other think it is a final connection, it is always wise to discuss such matters up front to minimise nerves or apprehension.

  1. Ringing Ashes: Scatter the ashes in a ring shape on the ground or around an object e.g. a tree or in a clearing. Hold the scattering urn close to the ground. One nice idea is for participants to enter the ring to speak about the deceased.
  2. Trenching or Beaching: Using a paddle hoe or something similar carve a niche or small trench in the beach, either a line shape or pattern, then empty you scatter tube into the trench. Choose a spot below the high-tide line, cover if you wish and wait until the tide disperse the sashes.

Warning don’t do it above the high tide line and try to stay away from the beach entry / exit point. You could get disturbed. Here is the tide timetable if it helps.

  1. Toasting: everybody attending the ceremony holds a toasting cup and in the same way after a speech you might toast someone, you scatter them. After someone has spoken about your loved one, holding onto the cup everyone scatters /throws /flings some the contents of the cup in the required direction. The cups are refilled as required until the end of the speeches or the ashes have run out. Very celebratory and lovely for participation.
  2. Raking: this is the practise used in gardens of remembrance at a crematoria, by using a rake you can disperse the ashes equally – this will allow for faster integration with the soil and better consistency. This may be the method if scattering in your own garden.

This is our range of scattering urns, make the ceremony even more memorable with our range of ceremony products

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Question: When does a story of a woman’s broken ankle make the nationals?

Answer: when it happened while scattering ashes

Lynda Crowther a resident of Runcorn, Cheshire, was on a family trip to North Ayreshire in Scotland to scatter the ashes her mother.

On the walk she broke her ankle in a pothole and due to the remote location needed an air ambulance to remove her from the mountainside.

While she was awaiting the helicopter she used her mums ashes to support her ankle and after her being picked up the rest of family continued on their journey to honour Ina Craddock’s last wish to have her ashes scattered on the same spot as spot as her late son, William.

When they return from the mountain they found Lynda in a hospital with her ankle in plaster.

The interesting aspect is that there is nothing remarkable about this story at all. The two essential elements: a loving family honour a parent’s wish and the air-lifting are fairly ordinary, so why did this end up in The Mirror? Without the benefit of a journalist’s nose it would seem that the ashes are the critical factor, I suppose it ticks the boxes to make it worthy: family, human interest, excitement crated by mild peril,  all well that ends well and then the taboo subject… death with all its black humour and when we all able to make light of this subject it becomes newsworthy – fascinating if you think about it.

I will end with a quote from a niece who was on the trip which “Gran always loved a bit of ceremony and would have been laughing at the RAF seeing her off.

“Gran would have found our antics hilarious.”

Without trying to sound too pompous I think posthumous envisaging of anothers reaction, which almost always exclusively relates to humour, reveals much about our comprehension of death and its place with British society.

Oh and yes, you will be happy to know Ms Crowther is on the mend.

Original story: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-rescued-raf-helicopter-after-6305043

 

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One Virginians preference for cremation

In the early days of the blog I did quite a few ‘personal perspectives’ and I am not sure why I haven’t posted any for a while. This lady’s ponderings interested me, not only is it thoughtful, but it has a clear insight into the american way of thinking and highlights for me the debate in the US on the rise in cremation. In spite of everything talked about it is not cost based, although money is mentioned, instead centres around obligation and memorialisation.

I have directly cut and pasted the relevant section with a link to the full article at the bottom.

“That brings up an entirely new issue: the family debate over cremation. Which is better: having one’s ashes scattered over some bucolic mountain or ocean scene, or having a casket in a cemetery plot?

Some members of our family say that it is selfish to be cremated and not allow the rest of the family to have a place of memory. Is it selfish to be cremated? Or is it self-less? Seems to me not having any cemetery plot to purchase and mess with makes things easier and less expensive for the survivors.

My mom and dad have told us kids just to put them each in a green garbage bag, leave them at a landfill and spare the expense. We kids figure that must present some sort of health hazard and will pool our funds for the crematory.

Plus with cremation, there’s no issue of survivor’s guilt. Why leave loved ones behind to feel obligated to go visit a plot of land and ensure that it’s free of weeds or has not fallen into disrepair?

On the other hand, I can appreciate the need for the survivors wanting to have a place to go. There is sentiment in having a place to go and reflect on departed loved ones. And for plots with a waterfront view, that is not so bad for the living either. Who is to say what is the right answer?

Finally, that leads to the other family ethical debate — the open versus closed casket. Personally, I do not want to be remembered looking like some wax museum make-up laden dummy. Cremate me and show a video of when I had a human spirit in me (perhaps on my mountain bike). Scatter my ashes in some open body of water somewhere and then go have a big outdoor barbeque and celebrate.

But other family members say that viewing an open casket gives closure, that it allows folks to properly say goodbye.

And so the debate goes on. I say from ashes to ashes, from dust to dust. My body is just a vessel for my human spirit — one that loves a Sunday cemetery spin.’

So thank you Mrs Quinn from Richmond Virginia.

Original article http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/faith-values-pondering-the-what-ifs-of-burial-cremation/article_a892c774-535d-11e5-ac64-2f2d9789f6f4.html

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coe exhumation

Exhumation is getting the Church hot under the (dog) collar

It seems the national paper picked up on the case of Mrs Gooch, who wanted her mums cremated remains moved as she could not access the grave as she was wheelchair bound. The church refused as it was not exceptional circumstances.

The Sunday Express, the Guardian and the Telegraph all picked up on this growing trend.

Under the Burial Act 1857, someone’s remains can only be exhumed on the authority of the Justice Secretary or the Church of England if it is from consecrated ground.

In order to do this, one must to fill out a 12-page Ministry of Justice application form that includes the written agreement of whoever is in charge of the “cemetery, churchyard or crematorium where the remains are to be reburied or cremated”.  These applications are then normally decided within twenty days.

The Ministry of Justice receives around twenty-five of these applications per week to exhume buried human remains.

The church does not like this at all, a spokesman from for the clergy said: “The permanent burial of the physical body, or the burial of cremated remains, should be seen as a symbol of our entrusting the person to God for resurrection.

“This commending, entrusting, resting in peace does not sit easily with ‘portable remains’, which suggests the opposite, a holding onto the “symbol” of a human life rather than a giving back to God.

The Church suggested that the relocation of remains for reasons of convenience has become “almost a fashion”. ARRRGGGGHHH I do wish the church would not speak like that, people will have thought long and hard about this is, there is significant effort involved here and it is certainly traumatic, to reduce it to a flippant statement like that is patronising and misses the point of why they are trying to do this: It is because they loved that person so much that that being separated from their last resting place is distressing. The appellant is probably not up on the finer points of scripture and may well be Christian but in a different sense to the learned clergy, which is no less strongly felt. They may consider the words spoken as a metaphor and not so final.

The article went on to report that the Ecclesiastical Judges Association, comprised of diocesan chancellors who determine exhumation requests, said there was an increasing belief that “exhumation on demand” was acceptable as burial had lost its “religious and moral significance”. I can understand the point about religious significance, but to tack on moral at the end is unnecessary, it implies that theirs is the moral ‘right’ which is nonsense. I love genuinely the Church of England, but they do make cross with this sorted conceited, high-handed drivel. It is fine to set your precedent and stick to it and yes ignorance is no defence, but please do not question peoples morals in decision making process, if anything is morally wrong it is that!

Phew…right, I have calmed down now. It would appear Local authority seem to take a more relaxed view. A spokesperson for Brompton cemetery in west London said: “If a family wants to exhume the remains of a relative then obviously we try to help as much as possible.” Other council-run services confirmed this approach. Their duty is to who owns the plot. Which I personally think is more laudable, but then I am not ordained – so what would I know about morals.

 

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exhumation pensioner Norfolk church yard

Pensioner failed to get exhumation order on the grounds of access

A pensioner from Norfolk has failed in her attempt to get the ashes of her mother exhumed. She had partitioned the Church of England’s Consistory Court but to no avail.

Mrs Queenie Ivy Gooch wanted the ashes of her mother moved from the Churchyard in Gunton to the nearby Kirkley Cemtery so that she could pay her respects. She is unable to visit as she is wheel-chair bound. However the court said no.

This may seem like a tough ruling and one has every sympathy for Mrs Gooch. The law around exhumation is strict and a last resting place must be exactly that unless there are exceptional circumstances. And the court deemed that in this case there wasn’t.

And the fact that vicar of St Peter’s had not objected was not enough.

In giving the judgement Chancellor Arlow said : “It is clear that the inability to access her mother’s grave causes Mrs Gooch real distress and it is for this reason that she wishes to exhume her mother’s remains and reinter them in Kirkley Cemetery.

“I know that this will cause real upset to Mrs Gooch and have great sympathy for her but I am unable to find a proper justification for this exhumation.

She said that if the advancing of years and its consequent limitations of mobility were to be sufficient reason for an exhumation then this could lead to a flood of similar applications and unacceptable inroads into the principle that once a person’s remains have been buried the burial is meant to be permanent.

Mrs Gooch had hoped to have her ashes buried alongside her husband and her mother to be reinterred next to her.

So it is down to principle and whilst I am not a fan of “It will open the flood gates…. What will happen next” I can see that the court is in a very difficult position. And the hurt caused to an individual must be balanced against wider precedents.

It is just very sad for the lady involved.

 

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scatter tubes on water

Don’t put Scatter Tubes in the water!

Scatter tubes are not designed to be placed in the water.

They are made of a thick dense card, which also has an semi impervious layer of ink, the result is they are likely to float and will not sink for some considerable time: meaning that you loved ones ashes may end up on shore or floating about.

If you scatter the ashes on the water then place the tube in the water, that is classed as littering: as the urn will take days to break down.

Yes the tubes are biodegradable, they are may of card. However the speed of degradation is dependant on the material and the climatic conditions eg heat, presence of moisture and microbial activity. So in the case of a tube choose either composting or burial where is doesn’t matter that it takes sometime.

In addition scatter tubes would not meet the Royal Navy’s criteria for water burial.

Also I would think looking at Environment Agency, SEPA and Natural Resource Wales literature they too would consider this to be littering, although I doubt due the sensitive nature of the subject they would seek to prosecute.

Finally, I can’t imagine that a loved ones last wish would be to contribute to littering the environment where they are to be laid to rest.

So please if you don’t want to use a water urn – you can use a scatter tube, just don’t place it in the water, empty it and take it home.

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ashes buried with which family

Choose to inter ashes at a family grave, but whose family?

Cremation is the common choice in the UK and becoming so in Canada and the US, therefore you can fit more ash caskets onto a family plot. But whose family?

I came across an interesting think piece by Ken Gallinger in the Toronto Star about where you choose to inter your ashes.

Ken’s mum is buried in her father’s plot in Toronto, his father is in south-western Ontario, along with his parents. Additionally his wife’s family has a plot in Manitoba where both parents rest. All the plots have space enough for him and his wife.

But Ken makes the point that in the in the normal run of things the bond of next of kin or principle relationship alters when one get a life partner and that is how it should be – those that continually look to their parents for love and guidance before turning to their spouse are well umm …doomed.

So what do you do when it comes to being interred, clearly his mother and father choose to be separated and return back to their parents. But most couples would not want this, most would wish some continuance of their bond. With families becoming ever more dispersed what you do, his suggestion is to have his ashes and his wife’s ashes mixed, divided into three and one urn interred in each of the plots.

But what about his children or his grandchildren they could be looking at something like 12 locations – which seems crazy. Also this is not an option for Catholics (as they can’t split the ashes) and how many headstones would you have? Here lies 1/9 of Stuart Wilson and 1/7 of Catherine Wilson? What happens if your partner can’t stand the ‘in-laws’?

I am not saying he shouldn’t do what he suggests, it is all about choice. What I am saying is this approach is probably not sustainable in the long run.

A couple of other options then – don’t opt for the family plot – have your own where you made your life, or make it a family tradition to scatter a token amount in a certain place – a specific lake or river? Tricky one this…

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Original article: http://www.thestar.com/life/2015/06/20/cremate-and-separate-to-keep-family-together-gallinger.html

 

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cremation trends in the us

The changing trends towards cremation in the USA

Here is an interesting article from USA Today which has looked at changing trends in death rituals in the US and greater adoption of cremation. The article points to six noticeable changes in culture:

  1. More people are personalising cremation

The articles points to the fact that there is greater choice out there for people to memorialise, urns for water burials, ashes being put into coral reefs, urns where you can plant a seed that can grow into a tree.

  1. People are becoming more mobile, and costs are higher to ship and bury bodies

The more mobile to population the less people associate with a specific place or a need to return to that place. Shipping a body is very expensive shipping an urn isn’t. Costs in general are greater for a burial. The article stated:

–In 1960, the national median cost of a funeral minus the vault, which is a container usually made of concrete that is used to encase the casket, was $708.

–The national median cost of a funeral in 2012 was $7,045. If a vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the median cost was $8,343.

–The 2013 median cost of cremation with no memorial services, and including a crematory fee and a basic urn, was $2,260.

–The median price for a memorial service with cremation and no viewing of the body before cremation was $3,250.

–The median price of an adult funeral with cremation casket, which is a combustible casket, viewing and cremation was $5,410. Some cremation caskets can be rented for the viewing, which is a less expensive option.

Note: these costs don’t include the plot, the headstone or flowers! And the first one can be extortionate.

  1. Cremation is rising in popularity in Arizona and nationally

The U.S. cremation rate in 2013 was 45% and set to rise to 50.6 by 2018, according to the Cremation Association of North America. Some states are more in favour than other for example the Arizona cremation rate is slightly more than 64 percent.

  1. Religious norms have changed to allow cremation

The article point to the fact that the Catholic Church relaxed its view on cremation, but that was back in the 1960s, I guess these things take a long while to filter through…Or whilst it would appear that the US is still a church going society maybe strict doctrine does not have the hold it once did?

  1. Hearses and big limos are on their way out

The article reported that the use of hearses and limos were on the decline with the funeral director reported as saying that they had sold there fleet and now rented them. Well I can see you can perhaps do without the limos, but the hearse?

  1. Kitchens and other gathering places at mortuaries are in

This I also found interesting, people where still very much into the family gathering and the ‘wake’ plays a greater role, with mortuaries spending on kitchen equipment to allow outside carters to offer more than a cold cup of tea and a curly sandwich.

Anyway if you a bit more depth from a range funeral professionals, here is the article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/01/new-cremation-trends/28329461/

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Ashes contained inside a marital aid

I kid you not. Now where might a product such as this be produced, come on guess…. The Netherlands, which accordingly to the straweyist of straw-type polls I conducted was the bookies favourite.

I love the Dutch. Not just because of their determination to bring all things back to sex, but in the unflinching way they do it. Honest, matter-of-fact and a prehaps little in your face. Going places that most British and American sensibilities would dare not tread.

This is not, as some corners of the web have reported it, a titillating naff shock tactic, in fact the Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom has clearly put a lot of thought into this sensual reliquary. Designed so that a female significant other of the deceased can have the full range of memorabilia – his scent, the moment he proposed, his favourite music. And yes it has a dildo that is designed to contain a small amount of ashes.

The memory box is called 21 Grams and is made from hand-sanded wood, painted a pale grey and then locked with a brass key.

When it is unlocked, the box unfolds to contain a small ring holder for a widow’s wedding ring (I thought most people carried on wearing a ring don’t they?), which can be popped open to relive the moment of proposal, a built-in perfume diffuser and a built-in amplifier allows you to use the memory box as an iPhone dock.

The name 21 Grams is interesting, it refers to a piece of research that assessed the weight of someone’s soul, which left the body upon dying (I am not making this up  – 20th century physician Dr. Duncan MacDougall). The dildo holds the capacity for 21 grams of ashes.

Sturkenboom says he was inspired to design his memory box after noticing the disconnect between the devoted, loving way an elderly widow of his acquaintance spoke about her dead husband, and the naff urn that stood on the sideboard.

“In that same period I read an article about widows, taboos, sex and intimacy,” Sturkenboom told Dezeen. “Then I thought to myself: ‘Can I combine these themes and make an object that is about love and missing and intimacy?'”

What do I think: well I think it will be a fairly niche market. Sorry! I am British, there has to be an innuendo somewhere in a story like this and if you have read this far hopefully you are not offended! ashes inside a dildo

#jeremyvine #radio2 #21grams #ashes #cremation #sextoy

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dispute over cremation

How bad can it get: hiding a son’s cremation from an estranged spouse?

It never fails to surprise or sadden me the length some people will go get one over on an ex-partner. A trial is taking place in Stoke upon Trent of a woman who is accused of twice falsifying paperwork to prevent the son’s father from attending his funeral.

The deceased passed away at the age of thirty two of a life limiting condition and his mother arranged the funeral.

Originally she had gone to the Meir-based Co-operative Funeral Care and filled in a form stating no near relative was opposed to the cremation and no near relative had expressed any objection to the proposed cremation.

It seems that Mr Barber (the father) became aware of the situation and took legal advice where upon Mrs Hackney (the mother) agreed he could have his own service.

However she then sacked the Co-op services and then went to Harry Dawson Funeral Directors in Normacot, where she again signed the forms to say no one objected.

It would appear despite Mr Barber lawyers trying to intervene the body was released for cremation. And that Mrs Hackney was so keen to ensure Mr Barber was not present she arranged an early morning service where no one could present.

Mrs Hackney, denies two charges of signing a false certificate with a view to procuring the burning of human remains and one offence of making a false representation with a view to procuring the burning of human remains.

Her case is that Mr Barber knew his son was to be cremated and he did not object.

It makes you wonder what had happened between these two people to warrant such an extreme stance, surly anyone in that situation would consider the wishes of the deceased – not only was his life cut prematurely short, but his funeral appears deliberately arranged to prevent anyone saying goodbye, and not because he had done anything bad or wrong, due to malice aimed in another direction.

I’ll be honest I find cases like this depressing. I tell myself it is has made the news because it is rare and deeply saddening. And I suppose it must be as this is the first prosecution of its kind I have come across since I started writing the blog, so let’s take some solace from that.

Oh yes and on a minor techie point, it is interesting it is being heard at Crown Court as opposed to Magistrates, implying that it is an offence that could receive a significant sentence!

UPDATE 22 May 2015:

Cathleen Hackney was jailed for four months at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court by Judge David Fletcher.

The judge, who also ordered Hackney to pay Mr Barber £5,000 in compensation, said the breaches of the Cremations Act had led to Mr Moreland’s relatives being ‘kept completely in the dark’ about his funeral in 2010.

Judge Fletcher told Hackney: ‘I have no doubt that this is a case where your actions were intended to cause harm specifically to Mr Barber.

‘You willingly violated the criminal law to achieve that aim.’

Adding that Mr Barber had suffered psychological distress, the judge told his ex wife: ‘Your behaviour undermined a serious and important process in the most fundamental way.

‘Your behaviour has plumbed the depths and can properly be described as selfish and egocentric.

‘It’s an old-fashioned word, I know, but your behaviour was wicked.’

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crematoria perth dispute

Digging a road through a scattering site – an infringement of human rights?

crematoria perth dispute

There is a plan to put a road through a section of crematoria land in Perth Scotland and the local residents aren’t happy.

Perth council plan to ease congestion in that part of the city involves shaving a strip of land off of the crematoria grounds, which is not the actual garden of remembrance although it has been used for the scattering of ashes.

Members of the Luncarty, Redgorton and Moneydie Community Council have threatened legal action if this goes ahead saying “Approving this planning application and disturbing the human remains of the loved ones of their constituents would result in councillors being held culpable of abusing the human rights of their constituents.”

And there has been a petition signed by 2400 residents asking the council to rethink.

So is it, I wonder, an infringement of someone’s human rights? Human right is one of those terms banded about like health and safety often abused and never that well understood. The article did not say which part of the Act it would be contravening, but I suppose it could be? Certainly they are unhappy and the elected council would do well to listen. Crematoria grounds should be sacred, people who scatter there would probably have thought so when they scattered.

But is anywhere really sacrosanct? Churchyards are prone to be dug up to ‘make way for progress’ certainly cemeteries dating over a 100years old seem to be (or am I just making this up on a few remembered news articles) anyway, it does make you think about what is likely to be there ‘forever’,  I think it is fair to say in an urban landscape things change, space is precious and council may take the approach that the need of the future outweigh the objections…

Original story: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/perth-kinross/community-council-warns-of-legal-challenge-to-perth-crematorium-road-plan-1.838736

 

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cremation ashes compensation

What is the price of ashes?

cremation ashes compensation

The Mortonhall scandal in Edinburgh was dreadful, the practice where the crematoria did not return or offer to return stillborn or new-born babies ashes to the parents after cremation, with the reason that there was nothing to return, when in many instances this was untrue and very wrong.

The subsequent mea culpa from the municipal authority was encouraging and the extensive enquiries into the practice was welcomed and thorough.

I think the proposal to build two memorials: one at Mortonhall itself and another, potentially at Princess Gardens in Edinburgh (for those not wishing to ever return to Mortonhall), is well meaning and correct.

The lawyers have also sought to fix a financial sum to compensate families impacted by the tragedy as an act to repair the hurt caused (and maybe in order to ward off or curtail legal action being brought for the distress caused)

So what price ashes? I am often told that ashes are literally (and I mean this in correct use of the word) priceless – they have no price – this rationale was given to me by distribution companies who refuse to carry them, when I asked why, this is the general response: if we lost them we could be liable to huge compensation claim as it is something we cannot not put a price on.

So what price have lawyers equated would be reasonable compensation? Well, between £1000 and £4000. I am sure they were quick to point out that this not transactional, this is for the hurt caused not like an insurance policy – like for like or old for new. However it kind of is isn’t it? So for all the pain and anguish the families can now get a second hand Vauxhall Corsa or holiday in Disneyland. I am not saying the figure is right or wrong, I don’t know what should be and I am not criticising. Councils don’t have bottomless pits of cash and there are over a hundred families to compensate, the cost of the enquires were significant I am sure and the two memorials won’t come cheap. I just wonder how the figure was arrived at… what were the comparators?

On another point. Are people more interested in making sure it don’t happen again , bringing those responsible to some form of justice or receiving financial remuneration?  Probably all three in varying proportions depending on the individual. As with many such things I am left wondering was this best outcome, true this looks like a good outcome but is the best possible? Enquiries like these are expensive, time consuming and often protract the pain for those they aim to serve? And where does the money go? I maybe (am) making a bold unqualified statement but I would think that the money paid to law firms would dwarf the sum on offer to the families and does it give value for money? I don’t doubt others would disagree but once this was uncovered would: a full and frank apology from the authority, with commitment to overhaul procedure; payment to the families; but instead of money being spent arguing the legalities, that large sum of money being gifted to a  bereavement charities such as SANDS or similar instead, would that be better? I guess it is a moot point, but still I do wonder…

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/baby-ashes-scandal-parents-mortonhalls-5071142

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choices for cremation

US Agony Aunt’s readers give reasons for choosing cremation

choices for cremation

In the US cremation is on the rise, so a popular US agony aunt asked why. Whilst cost is often sighted and one case there was not enough space for a burial in the cemetery of choice.  There was two other reasons which I was not expecting.  One revolves around the versatility of cremated remains in memorialising, a keen diver thought that having his remains incorporated into a memorial reef  was a good idea “That way, I’ll be able to return to nature, give divers a place to enjoy and forever be back in the water that I have always loved.” Others thought being turned into a memorial diamond or placed into memorial jewellery was a nice way to be memoiralised.

However the most interesting can be described life fears projected onto death, so the examples given were claustrophobia: if you are cremated then that sense will not last for very long. Another was being placed in the coffin whilst still alive: so it would be better to be cremated as the ‘real’ end would come much more quickly if cremated. Lastly, one person thought that if you were cremated then there would be no chance of scientists or archaeologists digging you up at a later date to experiment or put you on display.

I can’t say if the projected concerns have come the fore due to it being via an agony aunt or because it is more ‘news worthy’ but still it does open a window on a range of rationale that perhaps gets overlooked.

http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/2015/1/22/readers-share-many-reasons-for-choosing

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tragedy ashes scattering ceremony

Cornish man swept into the sea whilst scattering ashes

tragedy ashes scattering ceremony

Tragedy stuck on Saturday (31 Jan) on the beach Trebarwith Strand, near Tintagel,when Mr Galliers and his family went to scatter the ashes of his Michelle.

The family had chosen that particular spot as it was where they had played as children.

The family scattered the ashes at a little river that flows onto the beach, Mr Galliers ‘s mother said he stepped away from the group, she presumed to say a private farewell when he was suddenly swept away.

Rescue attempts were made firstly by his brother-in-law, the RNLI and then a rescue helicopter, but each proved to be unsuccessful.

This is a truly sad event and has been much reported because of the reason for the family being there, it was even in the New York Daily Press. Something makes the tragedy more poignant because he was there to commemorate someone he had lost.

There needs little commentary apart from to express sorrow for those left behind. This is not the first occasion this type of accident has happened, since I began the blog I can recall three other occasions. One here in England that was a drowning, another where an expat in Spain was again swept out to sea and the final one a lady in Ireland slipped from a cliff path.

So wherever you choose, please take care not to endanger yourself or those in your group. If conditions aren’t right there is always another day.
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dispute over ashes

Who gets the ashes: funeral directors caught in the crossfire

dispute over ashes

The law is not the most dynamic of tools and the law regarding cremation is not at the top of the legislators agenda. It is not set up to find the ‘right home’ for the ashes, it looks at it from the point of view of correct and efficient disposal.

However there are two well established trends in society that are making disputes concerning cremation ashes more common place: the removal of ashes from the crematoria (as opposed to scattering them in the garden of remembrance) and the break-up of the family unit. Resulting in frequent rows over who get the ashes.

Increasingly funeral directors and crematoria are coming under fire from the family members who think the ashes have been handed to the ‘wrong person’.

So who should they hand them to? So before you start toasting the Funeral Director read the following, I have attempted to use in plain English without inaccuracy creeping in …

Funeral directors are obliged to follow the instructions of the client, who is the applicant

Applicants can be wide ranging: the executor of the will; a near relative over the age of 16; and if neither of those apply the medical referee (doctor or similar) can nominate someone. The executor is primary option.

The funeral director should give the ashes to the applicant, the ashes should be signed for and they should not give the ashes to anyone other than the applicant, unless the applicant gives written permission for this.

If you are not happy write to the funeral director prior to the ashes being released. Although there is little they can do unless lawyers are involved.

The applicant holds the ashes as a trustee, they do not own the ashes.

The executor can possess the ashes for the purposes of disposal. Where there is no executor, it is given to those first in line -which can get tricky if there are two or more persons with equal entitlement eg children of  the remaining parent (next of kin is not an automatic right to dispose of the ashes).

So:

  • Make a Will (although I guess if you are reading this, it might be a bit too late)
  • If it is too late and there is already a dispute, please don’t take it out on the funeral director it’s not their fault.
  • Speak to the holder of the ashes, and try to explain they are a ‘trustee’ not an ‘owner’
  • Do persevere and try to find an amicable solution, fighting over ashes is unlikely to have been the deceased wishes. Also, unless there are religious reasons, consider splitting the ashes, this can mean everyone involved can have an amicable solution.

Note: we do know this is a very sensitive area, this article is nothing more than an informal guide, it isn’t a legal document, but do please try to speak to other members of the family even if you are at loggerheads over other matters.

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