Dear Mary: Dividing Up the Ashes

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Dear Mary: Dividing Up the AshesDear Mary,

My mom just passed the Wednesday before Easter and now we are having problems with a brother who showed up after 35 years of absence. He wants the ashes from mom. We are going to take her back to you home where the rest of the family is. Mom wanted us to the two daughters to do this. She also informed us not to let the boys (our brothers) to not do this. She has tried over the years to call , write letters to the one brother that has been gone but there has never been a response. He has started to cause problems within the family by saying hurtful things. I do not know him personally since I have never even seen him as a child growing up or even talked to him until out of the blue he shows up. I found out he knew all this time where we lived he has said but then showed up after mom had passed the day after. My sister and I are going to do what mom wanted us to do with her. Do I need to do anything like get a lawyer or something in order for this brother to leave us alone? I bought a little urn for him to put some of moms ashes in it to give so we can do what we are suppose to do for mom to take her home. That seems to be not good enough. I even asked him if he will take mom back home like she wished and he said no he wants her with him.

Debbie

 

Dear Debbie:

My heart goes out to you and your sister. Losing a parent is never easy and holidays make it every harder. It is really hard to even start to grieve when you have family issues to deal with. If you have any doubts about what you should do legally or how to deal with your brother – then yes, consulting with a lawyer is a good idea. You have enough on your plate to deal with now and a lawyer will be able to help answer your questions and concerns.

It sounds like emotions are running wild and adding some clarity to your world may help. I suggest that you write down these questions and together with your sister answer them.

-What did Mom ask us to do?

-Did she trust us?

-Did she ask that her ashes be divided up?

-Did she want to go home?

-Have we earned the right to do what she has asked?

-Who are we trying to please and why?

-Did she trust our brother?

-Has he earned the right to have any of her ashes?

-Did she trust that we would fulfil her wishes?

-Is our brother acting out of guilt for not being around for the last 35 years?

-What will our guilt be for the next 35 years if we do not do the right thing with the ashes?

-Coupled with getting legal advice – do we have the courage to do the right thing?

Perhaps by answering these questions and even posing them to your brother you will find the correct answer.

Ask your Mother for some guidance – it may sound silly but just talk with her. Tell her what is happening. If you feel in your heart that you are fulfilling her wishes, then draw strength from that.

I hope find some peace and let me know who things go.

Mary


Message from Mary Bart: I was my parents’ principal caregiver for ten years. I have first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing with family dynamics, protecting parents from elder abuse and working with public and private organizations. Do you have a question for me? Please email your questions to: mary@caregivingmatters.ca

An important note: I love answering your questions, but I also encourage you to seek professional legal, financial, or medical assistance. Mary.

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| Caregiving Expert

Mary Bart is the Chair of Caregiving Matters, a registered charity that offers education and support to family caregivers. She was her parents’ principal caregiver for ten years and first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing wit...