DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ned," lost his mother suddenly at the age of 54. Her wishes were to be cremated and have her cremains scattered in the Arizona desert. It hasn't happened yet.
Her cremains started out on the bookcase headboard of our bed. I finally moved them to the living room in front of the fireplace. One day, I returned home from work and, once again, the cremains had been put back in our bedroom -- this time on the nightstand next to our bed.
Abby, our 10-year-old son was extremely close to his grandmother. They adored each other. To this day, he talks to the urn as if it is his grandmother. In addition, the cremains did not all fit into the urn, so a second box was sent along with the urn. With time, the box has separated and started to leak.
I think it's unhealthy to continue to have the cremains in the house, and I also feel it's disrespectful to my mother-in-law. How can you be firm and loving at the same time? How should I bring this up without putting my foot in my mouth? -- WOEFUL IN INDIANA
DEAR WOEFUL: It appears your husband is having a difficult time letting go. I recommend you sweep up the cremains that have leaked out of the box and place them in a baggie. When your husband is in a relaxed, and hopefully receptive, mood give it to him and tell him that his mother had asked that her cremains be scattered in Arizona -- not the bedroom. If he can't bring himself to do that, perhaps he would compromise by agreeing to keep them elsewhere than your bedroom. Your having moved them should have been hint enough that their presence made you uncomfortable.
It is not unheard of for survivors to keep the cremains of loved ones with them -- and the subject has appeared before in my column. However, since it makes you uncomfortable, you should not have to sleep with his mother.