Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gascoigne Family Cremations

Our local cemetery

I regret that this country does not have a crematorium. This is traditionally a Roman Catholic country and cremation has been only permitted by the Roman Catholic Church since the 1960s under the condition that the ashes in an urn are interred in a consecrated cemetery. However, religion and tradition die hard here and cremation has never been adopted as a mode of body disposal.

In the UK cremation, I guess, was adopted for economical reasons:

a) space for and in municipal cemeteries was limited.

b) municipal cemeteries have become prime urban development space.

c) poorer people could not afford the charges municipal councils demanded for the upkeep of grave plots in the municipal cemeteries.

I remember my father getting a bill from the council every year for the upkeep of his parents' graves as he was too far away to visit and do it himself.

Here we have a solution too.

One buys a plot and erects the gravestone. Or you get buried for five years and then dug out and thrown out for the next corpse.

Even so, the city council had to open a new cemetery four years ago and it´s in a pretty ugly location.

Dad and Mum were cremated at their own behest. Probably for the above reasons and possibly for religious (they were church-goers) and ecological reasons.

Dad died in 1989. After the cremation, Mum could not decide where she wanted to scatter his ashes. So after picking up the green plastic urn (approximately 1/2 a litre in volume) and putting it in a plastic bag inthe boot of her car (next to the spare wheel and jack), she rode around with it for six years or so until she finally got fed up with them, buried them in the back garden of her 1970s Wimpey-built new house and planted a rose-bush over them. Does the current owner know? Certainly not.

Mum died in 2001 and also stipulated cremation in her will. Crematoriums, as with the NHS, also have waiting-lists - it took around six weeks (well, that is often quicker than the NHS and, blimey, there must be alot of morgues!).

I wasn´t there for the funeral but several weeks later went down to the Funeral Directors and picked up the green plastic urn and the customs documentation (which they were used to doing for they had many Hindu clients who wanted to take their deceased´s ashes back to India to scatter on the Ganges).

Pete and I divided Mum in half.

My half was soon scattered in the primary forest here, Pete scattered his ¨portion¨ somewhere in the UK - I don´t know where.

Update: Just phoned Pete - No he didn´t scatter them. They are in the spare room. Should I tell Nanda that she (and me for that matter) has slept with her mother-in-law?

So my Dad lies unknown in London´s commuter belt and my Mum lies in two continents in the tropical forest and in a terraced house near Manchester.

Fortunately, even though we don´t have a crematorium here allowing my ashes to accompamy Mum´s, if I die here, we live away from the city, and the local cemetery (photo to follow), under the jurisdiction of a local municipal council, is a small pretty affair where, if I am to be buried, I will be content.

The view from the front gate

1 comment:

cemeteryspot said...

In the US there is a major trend towards cremation. And cremation has gone from a small percentage to over 33% of total funerals. The reasons range from costs to environmental reasons. You might be interested in a blog post about the real "green" effects of both burials and cremations. http://www.cemeteryspot.com/blog/?p=42