DEAR ABBY: I am a 70-year-old man whose wife died two years ago. For the past year, I have been dating a spry widow whose husband died about the same time my wife died. We have a lovely relationship and have talked about getting married.
The problem is her dead husband's ashes. She keeps them in a fancy gold box on the mantle of her fireplace. I just recently found out what is in the box, and I think this is morbid. Sometimes she stands in front of the box and reminisces about her dead husband. Her family tells me that she has requested that her husband's ashes be placed in her coffin when she dies. I find this somewhat disturbing.
I had a serious talk with her, so she knows I object to having the remains of her husband on the mantle. I would like a permanent relationship, and she has told me she loves me and is interested in getting married. However, she is not willing to remove the ashes from the mantle.
Abby, do other people keep ashes of the dead in their homes? How can I get her to remove them? -- ASHES IN AUDUBON, N.J.
DEAR ASHES IN AUDUBON: It is unusual but not unheard of to keep the ashes of a loved one in one's home. It may be that your ladyfriend needs more time to completely resolve her loss. Your understanding would only enhance your relationship with her. However, I suggest that you ask her to please keep the ashes in a more private place -- a spare room or in her personal closet. Her degree of willingness to compromise should tell you volumes about the future of a relationship with her.
I would like to hear from others who have kept the ashes of their beloved mate.