What to do with the cremains is just one of the barometers of grief. There are so many moments in grief when I just want it over with – it is a slow motion torture of a music box winding down its notes to nothing. How long will grief take? How would I know? I am from the American prairie. With our overdeveloped work ethic, we don’t do grief, rather honor says to force ourselves up and onward.
“If you're going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill
This is insanely useful in crisis, but in grief – not so much. If I don’t process this loss now, it will follow me, for years. Frankly, I just don’t have that kind of time. I don’t want to ski past or parachuting over it; I want to parse the aftermath of my mother’s passing. Something in me died with my mother; it cannot be helped but something else wants to live.
“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height …So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.”
–Kahil Gibran - the Prophet (on love)
Grief does the pruning. You can do a lot of damage to the structure of the tree for the rest of its life, if you don’t consider the cut. If I do it well, the dead wood gives way to more strength and vigor. But unlike an actual tree, the metaphor is more wiley. Though I would like this grief to be over fast, I want it done well and that takes as long as it takes.
Listen to your own clock (not the cultural timekeepers that are all too happy to tell you what to do) but err on the side of kindness. If I am kind, pain will not become suffering. You will know when it is time to move on. Yes, you may linger longer than necessary or what is optimally efficient; wallow away. Marinate in the loss until you are sick of it. It can be the quickest way to get you ready to let “them”, a lover, a parent or even a child, honorably go.