Winger’s Ashes

I picked up Winger’s ashes yesterday. I was anxious for them to return. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I don’t really like the idea of cremation. Knowing what to do with Winger’s body after he died gave me hours of debate over the last couple of years. I choose private cremation at the last minute, mostly due to eliminating all the other choices.

I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of ashes coming in little see-through baggies, and also nice handcrafted oak urns. I wasn’t asked what I wanted.

Yesterday the call finally came that Winger’s ashes were ready to be picked up. At the same time I was opening my mail. My mom’s cousin Kathy sent me a beautiful Golden Retriever angel pin – it’s a Golden with angel wings. And I received another sympathy card, this time from my Uncle Phil and Aunt Doreen. So of course I was a mess of tears. I cleaned myself up to pick them up. I had to wait at the vet’s because the office was busy. I don’t like it there anymore. I was anxious and nervous and trying so hard not to cry until I got out of there. Finally I was first up at the desk and the receptionist handed me a big cardboard box. I was tearing up so I thanked here and bolted out the door. I just set it in the back seat and cried my way home.

At home, I opened the box. It was full of paper shavings. There was a black box in the middle in a plastic bag. There was also a piece of paper expressing sympathy and certifying that the cremation was humane (whatever the hell that means). I took off the plastic bag. Winger’s ashes are inside a plastic box. It wasn’t sealed very well and before too long I realized I had some ashes on my hands. I got really upset. I put it back in the plastic bag, sealed it up, and buried it back in the paper shavings.

I didn’t know what I’d think of getting his ashes returned. I supposed I hoped it would be comforting that his remains were back with me. But that is not how I felt at all. I din’t feel any sort of connection to them. I immediately felt that I didn’t want them in my house. Then I went through the typical grief thoughts of what did I do – I killed my dog, then I burnt him up, and now he’s in this box. Really, I was a mess for a good hour or so.

I didn’t have any long term plans of what I wanted to do with his ashes. I know many people keep them forever, some hidden away, some publicly displayed. This box isn’t totally sealed and it isn’t pretty. For $460 why didn’t they give me a nice oak urn too? I don’t know, but I know I don’t want to keep them. I thought about keeping them long enough to wait until Surf was also cremated so I could do something with them together, but I can’t wait. It feels incredibly wrong in my heart to keep his remains in that plastic box, sealed in a plastic bag. Unless I have a drastic change of heart in the next day or so, I plan to spread the ashes out at the retriever club property – allowing Winger’s remains to go back to becoming a part of nature. It’s going to disturb me greatly to open that box and see the ashes, but right now I feel it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know what I’ll do next time. That was an awful lot of money. Maybe when Surf is old and sick I’ll ready a hole for her burial ahead of time, as I knew I wouldn’t be physically up for it after Winger died. Or maybe the group cremation where the ashes are spread over a field at the crematorium is sufficient enough. I don’t know. And I don’t like thinking about it…


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

One Reply to “Winger’s Ashes”

  1. Well Lisa, I don’t really know what to say… i don’t think that I would want the box in my house either, I think you should spread them over where he used to run, fetch, and do what he loved.
    Love you Lisa!

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