As I made plans last week to leave the house for a weekend trip to see my family, I realized that I was going to be leaving Rose’s urn home alone overnight for the first time, and it shocked me in how upsetting that felt. That feeling had come out of nowhere but then quickly took over my entire body. After her birth and death, I spent two weeks feeling detached, helpless, and yearning for her ashes to come home to us from the funeral home. It was an awful experience. We chose a cremation for the simple fact that we have moved so much within the last few years, and we couldn’t bear the thought of having a funeral and burial only to feel like we either “couldn’t” leave Jacksonville, or feel that we would be leaving her behind.
These feelings of leaving her urn home alone were so spontaneous and sad, that at one point I had the serious thought of “perhaps I could just put it in my bag and no one would have to know besides me.” This was quickly followed by, “perhaps my in-laws or friend would be willing to “watch her” for the weekend.” Both of these thoughts made me laugh out loud, once voiced to a friend, because then I could envision some delusional scenario where I would take the urn with me for family events, group photos, and travels. My friend joked that it would be like Flat Stanley — we would just have pictures of her urn taken from various locations during our travels over the rest of our lives. Hilarious and sad and morbid all at the same time.
Just putting a voice to that surprise emotional outburst, and then joking about it after the fact, helped me to realize that it is all probably quite normal. But that is something I never would have thought would have been a “normal thing” to be upset about in the first place — leaving an urn. Now I can see why people choose to have lockets with their loved ones ashes worn as a necklace or an item they could carry around. It’s not my thing, but now I could understand why someone would do that. My friend even pointed out that there are women out there with life-like baby dolls that they carry around with them. Again — I get it. Though I don’t — but I do. It is not my place to judge how people grieve and heal. But that certainly makes my Flat Stanley-urn delusion much more appealing (to my love of humor) if faced with a choice between that, carrying around a doll, or wearing my loved ones’ ashes. Though I do love using a stroller as my personal Sherpa, and the doll could go in there…Hmm…..(I’m JOKING, Mom, no need to worry about me more than usual.) It’s okay to laugh about this (in my opinion), because you can’t cry all damn day every day. For me, finding humor even in my darkest place, gives me hope that I am doing what I need to heal.
The weekend turned out to be great. I was in such a packing frenzy before leaving that I didn’t even think about “saying good-bye to the urn” until I was already on the road. Then I felt guilty about not thinking of it after all of those feelings earlier in the week, but that guilt didn’t last long at all. We had a wonderful time with my sister, mom, and close friend, and it was healing to create new and fun memories with them. It was a nice first weekend traveling after this hard summer and fall.
I am not sure why I am sharing this story with you all, other than to maybe make someone else feel like they’re not alone if they are sitting around Googling, “leaving an urn home alone,” or, “traveling with an urn.” It’s all so morbid, this grief thing. But perhaps I need to register a domain name for Flat Stanley-esque Remembrance Travel Items so you can finally take Great-Great-Grandma on that trip to the Grand Canyon she had always wanted.
The next post will be featuring a list of books, websites, and other resources that have been helpful to me in the past two months.