Sage Advice: A Difficult Post-Life Request

By Amy Dickinson | August 7th, 2019

How far should you go for a deceased friend's final wishes?

Spreading ashes

Dear Amy: My childhood best friend, “Lynn,” died after a long battle with colon cancer. She asked me to spread her ashes in Ireland, off of cliffs that we once visited together on a vacation. She asked me this the last time I saw her, and I was completely stunned, but agreed. She died a couple of days later.

That was nine years ago.

Lynn never married or had children. We grew up together, attended college together, and she was my maid of honor.

Her ashes are safe in an urn in my home, but I just feel so guilty that I did not carry out her final wishes. It’s just not realistic for me to go to Ireland. I’m retired, and can’t devote that kind of money to a trip. I have no other reason to go back there.

My husband suggested that I hire someone in Ireland, and ship the ashes to them to spread. But I don’t know anyone there, and would not feel comfortable leaving this to someone else.

What do you think I should do?

– Holding

Dear Holding: In researching your question, I note that there are professional “scattering” services, which you can hire to scatter a person’s ashes. An internet search will reveal some options for you to consider. The cost to do this in Europe seems to be about half the cost of a flight and a stay in Ireland.

In the United States, conducts tours to Ireland. You could contact this company; they might be able to connect you with a local guide in Ireland who would be willing to undertake this important task for you.

You could also try to contact a church in the area where your friend wanted her ashes scattered to see if someone affiliated with the church would be willing to do this, according to your instructions.

In the meantime, you could also scatter portions of your friend’s ashes in closer locations that you know were meaningful to her, and where you could think of her when you visited, perhaps off the coast of Cape Cod, where (you might imagine) currents from the Atlanticwould carry them toward Ireland.

Putting some effort into solving this is better than being paralyzed and feeling guilty. Your effort will clarify your options and help you to make a choice.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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