Closure Is A Farce: Aiming For Peace

April 25, 2017

Throughout my marriage, my husband and I discussed some of the details related to our eventual deaths. We decided we would be cremated. We gave each other permission to remarry if love came around again. We discussed end of life directives. We talked about who would raise the kids if we both died before they were grown. But there were a lot of details we didn’t talk about. Some we just didn’t even know would be important to discuss. Like what kind of urn do you want? Do you want it buried in a cemetery? Which cemetery? Do you want a headstone? What kind? What color? Do you want your ashes scattered? Where? AAAAAGH! It’s too much!

Because we didn’t make all the decisions together, they now fall on me, the survivor….the widow. And let me tell you something, these decisions feel so important and so overwhelming! I want it to be perfect. Sometimes I wish I had just made an immediate decision at the funeral home. Done. No looking back. But I didn’t. And so now, a year later, I’m just starting to implement a plan. It’s not a traditional plan, but it’s a good plan for my kids, and me, which is what matters.

Initially, I knew what I wanted to do with some of his ashes. I knew we needed to get away from here after the funeral. We needed a vacation. We needed some fun, and we needed to build new, happy memories together. We were going to take a vacation and I had a destination in mind.

We have never been a big vacation family. In fact, we only took one big vacation our entire marriage, but it was a whopper. When the kids were 3, 6 and 16, we went on a Caribbean Cruise! It remains one of the best, happiest, most relaxing and wonderful times of our lives.

Family Vacation 2011


Looking as happy as we were – 2011

I will never regret the money we spent on that trip. After my husband died, I knew I wanted to return to the Caribbean with the kids. Three months after he died, the kids and I flew south and embarked the Oasis of the Seas. We had a short service at sea, prayed, read a beautiful passage from the Bible and scattered some ashes in the Caribbean. It was beautiful and poetic and I felt very at peace about the decision to do this.

Vacation 2016


Oasis of the Seas


The world is a beautiful place


Everything is a little bit better in the Caribbean


Lolo on the beach in St. Maarten


Gman wearing 5000+ SPF and still getting a sunburn

Not to be overly blunt or disrespectful, but there are a lot of ashes left. I couldn’t travel on an airplane with all of them, so now I’m left with more decisions. An urn on a shelf? No, too many Nerf guns in this house for that. A cemetery? Well, our church doesn’t have its own and I’d have to choose a random location. Plus, my kids are young! Where will they end up in life? Where will I end up in life? I know I don’t want a headstone/cemetery to feel like an obligation. I don’t want my kids to ever feel bad if they can’t visit that location because maybe they will live halfway across the country. So what to do??

I know what my husband would say. He’d say don’t spend money on that stuff! I’m not there! And I realize this, however I think the kids need a place. They need a place where they can go, reflect, pray and remember. So a new plan was born.

I’ve lived in our house for eight years but we haven’t really done any landscaping in our back yard. I had the idea of creating a large garden space. A memory garden – a sanctuary of sorts. I envisioned a sitting area, ornamental trees and lots of beautiful flowers. I envisioned an outdoor urn that looks more like a piece of art and not a traditional urn. Something only we would know about (well, now all of you also). And most importantly, if I ever move away from this area one day, it would be something I could take with me and incorporate into a new garden.

I realize this isn’t standard and customary. Not everyone will understand or agree with this idea and that’s ok. For some, cremation isn’t right. For others, burial isn’t right. And for others, a cemetery is very important. All of those decisions are perfectly OK! Grief, and the dozens and dozens of significant choices that need to be made following a person’s death are so personal. There isn’t one or two ways to do it. There’s the way that brings you the most peace, and that’s the right thing to do.

I’m excited to report work has begun on this garden space. It’s not done yet, but it’s taking shape. I have plans to incorporate special touches that have significance to us. There will be subtle things to remind us of my husband’s life. Flowers in the colors of his alma mater, maybe a “W” flag (Cubs fan!), and Bible verses that were special to us on stepping stones? I’m not completely sure yet, but there will be lots and lots of special things in this space.

I also plan to include peonies, which remind me of my Great Grandma, geraniums, which remind me of my other Grandma and how she taught me to “dead-head” them. There will be lots of lilies to remind me of my step-dad. Eventually, it will be the peaceful sanctuary we all need. I won’t call it closure though. Closure is a ridiculous word. I prefer peace. This project will bring me peace. Would you like to see some before and during pictures?



Sod removal


sod is gone



I’ll be posting more as this project comes along. I’m so excited to see the finished product. And then again as the flowers grow and bloom! Not to get too hokey, but this is all so symbolic, don’t you think? We’re ripped apart, pulled up by the roots, tossed around, and then we are made into something different…something new. We are changed, but we will grow and eventually bloom into something beautiful. Ok, yeah, that was hokey. Sorry.

Now off to deal with the water pouring into the basement from the outside faucet (after I’ve already had the plumber here and paid him this morning). Life….you aren’t the kindest and you require all sorts of extra grace.

— Jodi






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  • Reply Cheryl Hanson April 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I love it Jodi!!! What a beautiful way for you and the kids to keep him close to you!!! Tracy and I talk have been talking about this often. And you are so right…. what may be right for one may not be right for another. ❤️

  • Reply Becky April 25, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    You have a wonderful idea. I made too many decisions at the funeral home and have some regrets. Our son was cremated and half of his ashes were buried next to his beloved grandfather. We were going to put the other half in the ocean on vacation. When the time came we simply couldn’t. So, we bought a 2nd urn and have half of him at home. We have yet to purchase a gravemarker because I’m really thinking of having his urn dug up and put him all in one place. Is that too bizarre? My family would think I was insane. You were wise to wait until you thought out your decisions.

  • Reply Nancy Pedro April 25, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    This is a beautiful idea — especially since your children are young and you are likely to be there for awhile. Also, I want to say that this is the most hopeful and healing post that you’ve done — you have made a plan and you are moving ahead. The fact that you can take the “art/urn” with you is a lovely idea and gives you options for the future. My husband wanted his ashes scattered in Bermuda, where he was born and lived until the age of 16. He arranged with his sister to take his ashes there and told her where he wanted them scattered. Then he presented the plans to me as a “done deal”. He had never wanted us to go to Bermuda, so we will not even know where his ashes are. We have decided to put a bench in the family plot in the local cemetery that will have his name and dates on it, along with plaques with ours (my grown daughter with disabilities and me). Our ashes will be there someday. His decision was a bit hurtful to me — but it is what he wanted, his sister will take care of the ashes, and we will have a place of memory here in our home town where the rest of our family is.

  • Reply Kevin Nelson April 26, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    This is great Jodi. It’s what we decided to do while Michelle was still alive. We all got to start it together. I hadn’t thought of the idea of the outdoor urn that we can take with us. I like it. If/When we have to move, I don’t want the kids to feel like we’re leaving her and the memories behind.

  • Reply Jami April 26, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    i am looking forward to spending time in this garden, jodi.

  • Reply Jan April 26, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Looking forward to seeing Your peaceful place. Good idea to remind us of those final details. Hope ypu get that faucet fixed.

  • Reply Judy H edges April 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    When I read your story about your 1 big trip it reminded me of our 1 big trip this last summer. My husband started to get very tired and having dizzy spells. He slept a lot and just didn’t feel good but the doctors could not find anything wrong. Well, one of my dearest friends died and he had already put down money for a cruise. His family let my sweet Mark and I go on this trip, a cruise also to the Carribean. This was our big trip and it happened to fall on our 25th wedding anniversary. During the trip my husband felt GREAT and never had the first sign of illness. Once we were home he started feeling bad again and it went downhill from there. I look back and believe God knew his faithful servant would be coming “home” soon and allowed us that special moment in time. So with all of this said, your idea of the garden of memories is great. I will be looking forward to watching the growth, colors appear and ornaments you add. Find a little angel to put in for your “blog friends” and know we are with you all of the way.

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