This simple yet important question led to one of the most important discussions in my life. Steve and I would use time travelling in the car to talk about anything that was on our mind – I’m so glad this conversation happened.
There was a reason I asked the question – I had no idea what I wanted! Anytime I didn’t know the answer to a question, I’d talk ask Steve. There isn’t a perfect way to navigate this conversation, but here are the things we talked about that day.
Steve wanted to be buried in Valley City. This made perfect sense, because he lived his whole life in that community. For me, the answer wasn’t so simple. If I died the next day, did I really want to be buried in Valley City?
The answer for me was no. I wanted to be buried by Steve, but I also wanted to be where my friends and family were. As the world becomes more global and families more mobile, the question of location becomes harder and harder to answer.
2. Cremation or Burial
The discussion of location led me to believe that cremation may be the answer for us. Steve wasn’t a fan of this originally, but once we talked through it we came to realize that this would be the best option for us and you’ll understand why in the next sections.
Steve’s only request with the cremation was that he have a headstone. He wanted a place that people could go to remember and he wanted a final resting place.
3. From Ashes to Diamonds
A few weeks prior to this discussion I had read an article about LifeGem, a company that developed technology that would take the person’s ashes and compress the carbon in the ashes into a diamond. In my heart this is what I wanted. I knew that life was never guaranteed and I knew I wanted to be close to my loved ones.
If I was made into a diamond, then Steve could mount that into something that he could take with him everywhere. A part of me would always be with him. As life would have it, I’m the one with the diamond. When Steve and I got home from our trip we looked up the article together and decided that this was what we both wanted for the other person. We had a plan.
4. Creating a Family Heirloom
Technology had changed and the company that creates the diamonds from ashes could now make diamonds from hair as well. I immediately knew that I wanted a family stone.
I asked the funeral director to cut a lock of Steve’s hair and I cut a lock of hair from me, Reanna and Kaelyn. We added the hair to Steve’s ashes and that made my diamond.
The stone didn’t require all of Steve’s ashes. His mom asked if she could have a stone along with one for his sister and brother. I wanted one for Reanna and Kaelyn too. Steve’s ashes made six diamonds in all and I still had enough to bury half of what was left in his final resting place and keep the other half with me.
5. A Gift from Dad
The girls are too young to understand or appreciate the diamonds that were made with their Dad’s ashes. I decided to place their stones in our safety deposit box to give to them as a graduation gift from their Dad.
My portion of the gift will be the setting of their choice. Their dad will always watch over them and they will have a piece of their Dad to take with them as they go off into the world. I think he would have approved.
The conversations around death and planning made my decisions after Steve died much easier. I know I couldn’t have chosen cremation had I not discussed this with him. I felt some measure of peace with my decisions as I knew I was fulfilling my end of the wishes and expectations we had of each other. Every time I look at my family stone, I know that I fulfilled his wishes. He is with me no matter where I go in this world.
Having conversations about death and what you want for yourself and your significant other can seem scary and overwhelming. I’m so glad that we took the time to have these conversations before it was too late. If you haven’t had a conversation like this with your significant other or close family, I urge you to take some time to do so this holiday season. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Would you choose burial or cremation? Why?