I have finally decided what to do with Helen’s ashes

by Adam Golightly, The Guardian, 24 September 2016

Adam Golightly is a pseudonym of a writer who has documented the illness, treatment and death of his wife. “Uncertainty over Helen’s ashes continues to hurt. During her illness, I overcame my fear of needles, putting in lines and using syringes to save her extra hospital trips. Now I feel my indecision is failing Helen in this last chance to care for her mortal self.”

In the end the solution was simple and Pete would approve because it came from others I’d involved and love. I’d invited Helen’s parents, Ray and Barbara, and sister, Sarah, to view the cemetery and plot. It was never going to be easy, but they seemed good with it. Suddenly one of them said, “Adam, come and look at this – it’s very Helen.” Sure enough, not 30 yards away from the plot sits a beautifully simple slate monument, a work of art as much as a memorial. It’s like none I’ve seen before and unlike any worktop I’ve drunk coffee over.

The search ends. The council’s ever kind Claire confirms, “That was done by an artist rather than a memorial stonemason. I think he’s in Wales but I’ll get some details.” And so the same evening I’m swapping thoughts with a letter carver and designer who is understanding, sensitive and supportive in creating a memorial that is Helen. It’ll take months, but that’s fine. I’ve taken the first step of what is still a marathon of uncertainty and upset but do so in step with Helen’s family. This makes the other 26.218 metaphorical miles to Helen’s interment look a lot less daunting.

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