What would you like done with your ashes?

From very early on in our relationship, and because we're both very comfortable having conversations of this kind, The Man has known that if I died, and if he felt like he were up for it, I was wanting my ashes scattered on Mount Saint Elias in Alaska.

Or if not on Mount Saint Elias, then at least I was wanting my ashes scattered somewhere else of significance, and scattered in the wind - skydiving maybe? - because I knew for a fact that I did not want a plot in a cemetery, or a cross, or a stone, or anything else specific which people that come after me would need to take care of in the years to come.

The thing is, I have been to plenty of cemetery plots, and I have watched people pull out weeds and rake leaves in the autumn and generally keep the place tidy, and I have watched scenes unfold where once children come along, and then grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren - the people who rake those leaves may not necessarily even know who names on those memorial stones belong to. In some ways it becomes a history lesson, enquiring from my mother what feels like a fifth time, "So, who this lady that is buried between my great aunt and her daughter is exactly?" But on another hand I have watched older parts of the cemetery fall into disarray, overgrown in weeds and, sometimes unfortunately, trash - as years go by and people die and new generations come along, names on stones may get forgotten, and along with those names, cemetery plots themselves - and I have thought to myself, "I don't want to become a name on a memorial stone like that." I don't want someone to have to take care of "my" plot.

Which is why I decided in my late teens already that I was wanting to be cremated, and Mount Saint Elias has just ended up added to that general idea of not wanting a cemetery plot, or a plot in general.

And why Mount Saint Elias to begin with, well that's another long story. And besides, I think my husband would actually end up having lots of fun taking my ashes there - or anywhere, really.

With his ashes, it's another story. He doesn't mind what's done with them either way, as by that point the ashes would be for the comfort of those left behind, as The Man himself would be way gone by then, but if he did need to choose, and did need to decide, then his ashes would be planted in his parents' garden in England, under an oak tree perhaps. He has said that his parents would probably draw much comfort from the thought of having him nearby, the likes of which he thinks I wouldn't need necessarily.

And so at the tender age of thirty-something, these conversations have well run their courses in our family, where each of us knows pretty well what the other one would want, and I have even enquired from some other people, just out of interest. "Where would you like to be buried, or done with your ashes when you die someday?" I find those conversations... fascinating. And I find that if spoken at an appropriate time, they can be bonding, which is an added bonus.

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