Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Henry's Ashes

I went to pick up Henry's ashes today. I didn't expect difficulty. I've gotten fairly good at disengaging my immediate emotions and focusing on the tactical business at hand.

It threw me off however, as the box was placed in a bag and handed to me - that I couldn't carry it by the handles. It seemed somehow disrespectful Or pedestrian. Too ordinary. This was not a bag from Target. And then the slip began.

I lifted the bag to carry in the crook of my arm and felt the weight. I realized that I was carrying my son's remains...in a box, in a bag. But the weight. The weight of carrying something that was once him quickly overwhelmed me. I sat for a while in the car to recover before heading home.

Once there I took them upstairs. Tara and I decided to keep them in his room for now as we haven't yet settled on what to do with them.

I realize this isn't the easiest thing to read - or to think about. But it's what we're dealing with. I've hesitated writing for sometime now for that. Sometimes it's just too painful, too private. But there are many reasons for this blog and sometimes I just find it helpful for me to write.


Susan said...

I remember well picking up Nathan's ashes. I think they were actually ready the day of his service. What a crappy errand! Nathan's ashes were in a box in a paper shopping bag with a dove on it. It did have handles. We brought it home and put it in our closet, ironically about a foot from the spot on the bedroom floor where he died (on a blow up mattress).

Those ashes stayed in our closet as the weather got cooler and I avoided my closet at all costs until I had to get the sweaters underneath.

At that time we decided that our original plan of keeping his ashes in our house, in some sort of vessel was no longer appealing. Did we want to put the on the mantle and see then while we watched TV? Did we want them in the china cabinet on the dining room? They couldn't be in his room, because he shared it with his sister.

So, we decided to inter them in a columbarium in a very pretty spot at a cemetary. It is not a gravesite - we did not want a grave to visit and keep up and feel like we had to visit.

I don't know if that was the best solution for us - definately better than in our closet but maybe not the optimal place. I'm still waiting to see if something better comes to mind. we can remove them anytime.

You are right to take your time - be gentle on yourselves. You are right, it is a difficult things to write and to read for people, but I, for one, can relate and appreciate you sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine the pain you must have felt at that moment. Fresh, overwhelming pain. My heart goes out to you and your family for all that you must endure.

Anonymous said...

The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

These were the words I thought of as I was reading your blog today. Its hard to know what to say when someone is hurting. So just know that your family, friends and even strangers are carrying you and your family in our prayers everyday; even if we don't know exactly how to say it.

Anonymous said...

we sang this song in church on sunday and i thought of henry, and you and your family:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no human plan,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

we continue to pray for comfort for you and your family. and we send a lot of love as well, just for extra good measure.

platensimycin said...

i'm sorry for what you have gone through. remembering your family in our prayer.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for sharing such tender, deep, thoughts about Henry. We care to listen, to hear...we care. Perhaps, sharing multiplies joys and divides grief.

With love,
Deb Stevenson

Anonymous said...

We can't begin to imagine how difficult this task must have been for you today. We stumble to find words that can offer comfort. Take your time in making these decisions - you'll know what's best for your family when the time comes. We miss Henry dearly. We're here for you.

Love, Julie, Brad, Patrick, Andrew and Samantha

Kathy said...

Prayers for you and all your family.

I view my blog as a way to keep interested people informed. That's what you're doing.

People can read or not if it's too painful.

I think the sharing is helpful for at least some. Sometimes it's easier to write things than to say them out loud to a loved one's face.

My niece Kyra's preschool teacher and her husband made a coffin for Kyra, all wood, no metal so it could go into the crematorium. The preschool kids painted it.

Some of Kyra's ashes are at home in a handmade urn. Some are sprinkled on the tree we planted in the pouring rain at her memorial service.

Keep writing.

Blessings to all of you.

Justin said...

Feel free to lay it out for us.
We are still here, still listening, still praying, still supporting. We haven't, and won't be, abandoning you guys...

Jen said...

I'm so sorry- that is so difficult. We got my mother's ashes in a box as well- you'd think that at least they could put them in something decently decorated or at least easily carried. I was not expecting a cardboard box with a plastic bag inside of it, and it seemed like the final insult at the time.

There's no hurry to decide what to do with them in my opinion- it took us almost 2 full years to decide what to do with my mom, and I am very glad that we took the time.

Write whatever you like- sometimes writing is the best therapy, and there are a lot of people who care. If it's too painful to read then people can stop, but I believe that most readers are more than willing to try to share and hopefully try to ease your pain, even if it's only in a very small way.

rlbates said...

Write and feel whatever you need. Peace to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Brian and Tara:

There is no time table for grief and I hope you will allow yourselves to move through yours at your own pace, in your own way, and in your own time.

I hope, too, that by sharing your experiences with us you are provided with some relief, some lessening, of the weight of Henry's loss.

We ARE here for you, if only to listen in quiet empathy.


Anonymous said...

Brian and Tara, continue to share your hearts and thoughts with those of us who care for you, even though I don't know you personally. To be able to write of your experience today, Brian, I know had to be one of the hardest things you have had to write....as others have said, we are here to read, not to be nosey, but to let you all know that you are not forgotten, you are loved and you are still being prayed for. God's blessings on all of you.

Jocelyn Wetzel,
Your Friend from Frederick

femail doc said...

I too have an ashes in bag with handles story. That was a very very tough moment. A good time to have a friend along to tote that heavy-hearted load with you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bryan and Tara,
Picking up your son's ashes has probably got to be one of the hardest things for a person, esp. a parent to do. I admire your honesty and willingness to let us share in your time of grief. Please take all the time you and your family needs in grieving and making such a decision. May God bless all of you.
Craig,Gina,Carinna, and Corey H.

Anonymous said...


I know this comparison will suck but ...I remember the difficulty in bringing home the ashes of a beloved pet.

I can not imagine the many-times-over feeling (and weight, metaphorically) of a child's ashes.

As others have said, writing will be oh so valuable in both the short and long term.