Scattering ashes at our special place near home

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Today marks a year since I lost my husband. A year without the person I thought I couldn’t live without. A year which seems to have passed quickly for others, but very slowly for me. It’s a date I don’t really want to mark but at the same time it’s a date that has crossed my mind every single one of the 364 days that have just passed.

I wondered whether I would write about this at all, but it’s another step on our journey and as Rog himself said, if you’ve started telling this story then you really have to go ahead and finish it! Here goes.

One day last month we went on a family day out with a difference. We went down to the beach near our home to scatter some of Roger’s ashes in a place that was really special to us, to return him to the earth in one of the most peaceful places we know.

Red Rocks in Wirral has long been a favourite place of ours. I remember walking over the rocks when Roger and I first got together, back in the days when we had lots of free time to walk on the beaches around the place where we live (or should I say, lived). I have such happy memories of our walks over to Hilbre Island, which you can see from Red Rocks, and also around West Kirby, Hoylake, Thurstaston and Caldy. This part of the world really does have some gorgeous beaches, many of them pretty quiet too as it is a bit of a hidden gem in the North West I always think.

Sam and Flo with balloons

When we found out Rog was dying, we talked about what I would do with his ashes and where he might like to go. After initial jokes about ‘Oh, just put me down at the bottom of the garden’, ‘what where the cat goes to the loo?’, ‘er, ok, maybe not then’, were out of the way, we talked seriously about what I should do with Roger after he had gone.

Not the kind of conversation most couples our age have to have, I know, but these things really are best talked about when your loved one is here. I really took comfort from knowing we had talked about these things and so when these difficult moments came, I knew it was something we had both thought about and agreed on.

Anyway, we both felt Red Rocks would be the ideal place as it was just so beautiful and always very peaceful. Even if you did want to make a noise down on the beach there, the wind would carry the sound away pretty quickly! We also have what the locals call the Wirral microclimate, meaning we usually get slightly better weather on this bit of coastline and so quite often have sunshine and warmth on our breezy beach.

Sending balloons to the sky at Red Rocks

We’ve spent a few nice days down there since Roger passed away as well, including this one which I’ve just re-read and realised we were down there just two days before his funeral.

So Red Rocks it was. In the end I decided to scatter half of his ashes here, and take the other half with us to Yorkshire where we can have some of him close by forever. Maybe we will take him to the moors, maybe the back garden, but we all felt we wanted some of Rog near and that’s what we will do.

When it comes to it, there aren’t many pieces of writing out there on the internet about people who have scattered ashes and the practicalities of it. I found some, but none really talked about what I wanted to do, which was to take some to the beach and let them go back into nature. When I asked around between friends I wasn’t surprised to find no-one really had any experience of this, so some of it was guesswork, some just common sense.

I was slightly worried as I had read that the ashes should be buried in the sand somewhere where the tide will wash them away quite quickly; on Hoylake beach, the tide doesn’t always come all the way in and I didn’t know if we could just pick our own spot or not.

In the end, we met up with Roger’s mum, sister, brother and sister-in-law and walked together as far out as we could so not only were we nearer the water, but we had privacy and calm too. The sun was out, the air was still and to me it just felt right. I knew then that letting him go on the beach was the right thing to do. If it were me, I would love to go to the beach all the time, such a beautiful and happy place to rest.

Beach running

So after some words, a few tears, some throwing of petals and letting go of balloons, Roger was returned to the earth at one of our most favourite places. And you know what? I felt calm too. I felt peace. I felt love and I knew it was the perfect place for him.

I could almost hear him say thank you. Thank you for getting me out of that bloody wardrobe, I was wondering how long you were going to leave me in there! But I know he would understand that I had to wait until I was ready, until things had levelled out a bit and I could face letting go a tiny bit more.

This is one of the poems read at the time we scattered the ashes. I know it’s not really a grave as such, but I just really love the sentiment.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
(Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!)

x x x x x x

Running up the ramp at Red Rocks

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  • Reply
    Mini travellers
    July 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

    This is beautiful. I know you worried about writing about it and posting it but you shouldn’t have. It really is beautiful. Lot of love xx
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  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    July 17, 2016 at 7:32 am

    I am so sorry that you have had to face loosing Roger so young and that your children have to grow up without him. They are so blessed to have you. I think it is so beautiful what you did for Roger, bless you all xx
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…“Secretly we’re all a little more absurd than we make ourselves out to be.” – J K RowlingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Colin McPherson
    July 17, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Beautiful and moving writing and very brave. We all miss Roger but his spirit lives on with you and the kids. Lots of love xx

  • Reply
    Beth @ Twinderelmo
    July 17, 2016 at 8:41 am

    What a beautiful poem – just typing this through rather red eyes. What a beautiful place for his ashes to be scattered. One whole year. That’s crazy. Much love xxxxxx
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  • Reply
    Five Adventurers
    July 17, 2016 at 8:41 am

    So beautiful Julia. As always your words were beautiful and so heartfelt. Every time I read anything you write my heart is literally in my throat. You are so brave and so real. I hope shattering the ashes did bring you some peace. Really good luck with the move xx
    Five Adventurers recently posted…Comment on Best Museums in Manchester for Children by Free fun for all! – Let’s make a sustainable planetMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Julia, you’re right, that year has flown by for me but for you it must be the slowest one to pass so far. You were right to wait until you were ready and I hope you find the perfect place to lay the rest of his ashes. Much love x
    Donna recently posted…When Bear Comes Home From School {The Ordinary Moments}My Profile

  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Just beautiful. XX

  • Reply
    Tessa Roberts
    July 17, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Lovely place to rest. Now you have a reason to come back and visit us allxxxxx

  • Reply
    Sian @ The Foodie Fables
    July 17, 2016 at 9:19 am

    A beautiful post and a very appropriate poem. It’s been a challenging year but one I think you’ll also look back and be very proud of xxx
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  • Reply
    Laura @ Little Ladies Big World
    July 17, 2016 at 9:45 am

    A beautiful post and it sounds like the perfect place to scatter his ashes and feel a sense of calm and a sense of him. Xx
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  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I’ve always loved that poem. Such perfect words.
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  • Reply
    Elizabeth Bloomer
    July 17, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Beautiful words and poem, the evidence of its truth running along the beach holding balloons. Xx

  • Reply
    Vicki Bruce
    July 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

    What a beautiful place filled with so many family memories – its the perfect place! I’m thinking of you today, one year on. I hope the move is going well & that you & the kids are excited for the move closer to you family.

    When my husbands dad died just as we first got together we took a trip to spread spread his ashes (part of them) down here in Cornwall. Right at the sea edge. There is something calming about the sea and its comforting to picture them being a part of such a beautiful place. x

    Love to you all
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  • Reply
    Katy (What Katy Said)
    July 17, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I just have no words Julia. It does seem such a short time but I can only imagine what a long year is has been for you. Except I can’t imagine it, nobody can understand without having gone through it. Big hugs to you all, I think you are amazing x
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  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Ah Julia, beautifully written. Roger would be so proud of you. You are bloody amazing. Xxxx

  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    It’s such a lovely looking place and will forever be so special for you all. That poem is just amazing and you’ve written this post beautifully. Xx
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…The family anniversary mealMy Profile

  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    This is beautifully written….I think you are such a brave woman and writing this blog helps so many people. Love the poem.

  • Reply
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome
    July 17, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    This is so beautiful and sounds like the very best way to do something that could be so difficult, a way to say another little goodbye to Rog and lovely that you can take him with you too. Sounds very calm and I love that it felt right for you. As it is also my birthday I’ll never forget the day he passed away Julia, every year I’ll think of him and you and the kids and raise a glass for you all xxx
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  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    A beautiful post Julia. I scattered my mum’s ashes in one of her favourite places in the Peak District. I’ve not been back since, but you’ve inspired me to make the trips with my girls and share it with them.
    Thinking of you and your children xxx
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  • Reply
    Pauline Mitchell
    July 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Aww Julia this so lovely and where you placed your Roger’s ashes looks so peaceful and so good for your Children too, they can feel he is not far away. It always a difficult time deciding where put someone’s ashes.

    I was lucky my father always want his to go on the River Mersey. When he passed in 2004 we were undecided how we would go about carrying out his wishes, as my dad always joked to throw his ashes of the side of the ferry, but knowing how breezy it get on the ferry this didn’t seem like the good idea he thought it was.

    In the end we decided to find a quiet spot alongside the River and to place his ashes onto the “Treble Cleff” wreath we had made for him and to set that off along the river – whilst we played his beloved Jazz music.

    We all went down as a family along with my mum and 3 brothers and their families. It was a beautifully sunny day after which my mum turned to me and said “I would like you to do the same for me when my time comes”.

    Both of my parents were Liverpool born & bred; and it seemed fitting to me for them to return to the city they loved.

    When my mum passed in 2011, we decided to meet with some of her cousins from Liverpool, so met with them on the Wirral side of the Mersey. Again we managed to find a quiet spot on the shore and placed her ashes on to the wreathe we had, had made for her – and played her favourite songs as she drift away down the river.

    My parents always had a love/hate relationship with each other, so we couldn’t help but laugh when we realised she drifted off in the opposite direction to my father. It seemed appropriate the she wasn’t going to be stuck with him any longer and went off out to sea!

    It has been a pleasure to read your beautiful post; thank you so much for sharing it!

    Love and best wishes,

  • Reply
    Kate / Pouting In Heels
    July 17, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    A beautiful post Julia. Thinking of you and sending much love. Your grace and courage continue to astound and move me. X
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  • Reply
    Kim Carberry
    July 17, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Beautiful! It sounds and looks like the perfect place…
    Sending love and hugs x
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  • Reply
    July 17, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    oh such a beautiful post, how lovely that are you taking part of him with you and leaving half of him where he loved to be… Big big hugs as always x
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  • Reply
    Mary Smith
    July 18, 2016 at 5:38 am

    I love that poem, my cousin gave it to me at our daughters balloon release for her 1st birthday and it meant a lot. We too chose the beach, the cliffs above, and there is something beautiful and even therapeutic being there and thinking of those we have lost. This post really is beautiful and hard too, I am glad it all came together and you were able to have a nice (as it could be) experience in returning him… That 1st year is sooo long! love to you all x
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  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Such a difficult thing to do, but you’ve done everything with so much thought and care and Love, I’m sure Rog would be really proud of you all. xxx
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  • Reply
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    July 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    What a beautiful poem and post Julia, you’ve done your Rog so proud, and love how you keep a sense of humour at the most difficult of times- I think you’re amazing x

  • Reply
    absolutely prabulous
    July 19, 2016 at 2:04 am

    So I thought I’d ‘check out’ my fellow MADs writer award finalists. And to be fair have known of your blog for quite a while but only read one post relatively recently. What a post to land on upon a second visit. You strong woman. There is so much I want to say yet at the same time I’m speechless. This touched me more than any post has for a while. Beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. I’m so happy you have found a sense of calm on that significant day, if that’s the right way to put it. Looking forward to meeting you in September.

  • Reply
    absolutely prabulous
    July 19, 2016 at 2:04 am

    So I thought I’d ‘check out’ my fellow MADs writer award finalists. And to be fair have known of your blog for quite a while but only read one post relatively recently. What a post to land on upon a second visit. You strong woman. There is so much I want to say yet at the same time I’m speechless. This touched me more than any post has for a while. Beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. I’m so happy you have found a sense of calm on that significant day, if that’s the right way to put it. Looking forward to meeting you in September.
    absolutely prabulous recently posted…How has it come to this and when will it stop?My Profile

  • Reply
    K Shez
    July 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

    What an honest post. You’re right that there are not a lot of people to ask when you are wondering what to do with someone’s ashes, and it is such a big decision to make, but you obviously made the right decision for you and your family.

    I did laugh at the thought of your husband finally coming out of the wardrobe! My mum was behind the sofa (for about the same length of time) before we decided what to do. In the end, like you, we scattered some in a special place and some in my garden. An Uncle of mine from Australia was eventually scattered under Ashness Bridge in the Lakes because we all knew that was his special place.

    It can sound a bit matter of fact talking like that but in some way it’s an experience that has made me stronger as a person, and we all know that those who we lose will never be forgotten. Enjoy the next chapters of your life, your husband would be so proud of you and will be willing you on xx

  • Reply
    sarah christie
    July 19, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    What a beautiful post, and yes I bet he is relieved to be out of the wardrobe but like you saw would have understood and know it was right for Sam and Flo too, that poem is just beautiful x
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  • Reply
    Tracey Williams
    July 24, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Such a beautiful post Julia and I had tears in my eyes reading your poem. I think you just know when the time is right. I am sure this post will bring hope and love to other people who have lost loved ones. Love and hugs xx
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  • Reply
    September 4, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    A very beautiful post xxx
    Kerry recently posted…A Week on My Feet | HolidaysMy Profile

  • Reply
    C Joy
    April 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    A beautiful piece and it sounds like you have found the perfect spot .
    I think reading this has given me a little peace.
    I’ve searched online to try and find advice on scattering a loved ones ashes.
    All the online info I have found is practical about the environmental stipulations,
    It’s the emotional help I feel I need.
    My stomach is in knots and I feel like I’m hanging onto withnthe skin of my teeth to keep myself going.
    My Darling Uncle passed last August. He lived two doors from my parents, he never married or had children so we were his nearest and dearest.
    He asked to be scattered in a peaceful place with a gently running river and bird song.
    We have chosen a place in Derbyshire, somewhere we have all always loved ….early next Saturday morning (sadly my sons 19th birthday) .
    It’s the only day my brother and all his grandchildren ( they thought of him as grandpa) are all off work/school and able to attend.
    My Dad died 2 years ago and the pain in losing Uncle is intensifyed as we lost my beautiful Mother (his sister) just before last Christmas too.
    Mum and I were exceptionally close and she was more than a gran to my son. We are heartbroken. The only peace I get is that I took mum for a drive in September and showed her the spot were we are to now scatter. She thought it a good place so at least we feel she would approve of uncles spot.
    I’ve never been part of a scattering do people take flowers,? speak in turn?
    I’m just so worked up about it all and near to tears constantly.
    I had hoped to find online advice on how in an empathetic way to preform a scattering. Don’t won’t to wish later we had done it a certain way.
    Sorry to ramble, just feel so snowed under.

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