The Best Laid Plans

Years ago, when my husband and I were young and planning our lives, we also made plans for after death. We agreed on cremation. My husband said he wanted his ashes scattered over a lake.

“Okay,” I said. “I want mine scattered in a garden.”

“Okay,” he answered. “But flowers, not vegetables.”

We’re not morbid, not really. Just practical.

I’m not sure whether a love of fishing prompted his love of water or his love of water spilled over into fishing. But either way, his choice is fitting.

My choice of a garden is less obvious. My husband is the gardener in the family. Back when we had a big garden I was the one who processed all the produce. I’ve been known to plant flowers and tomato plants, but they’d all wither if he wasn’t around to water them.

I think I like the garden as a metaphor for life. We all start in a lifeless winter, begin in the spring of our lives, flourish in the summer, and harvest our hard work in the fall. I like to think that after I’m gone I could still be encouraging life.

But that’s true of all the natural world. In more recent years, I’ve been thinking that nourishing the soil in a forest somewhere sounds peaceful. If you’ve ever seen a fallen tree, you know how life appears in unlikely places.

Then I did a simple Google search and found this. Turns out ashes are so highly concentrated in soil nutrients that they are poisonous to plants. Businesses have been created just to solve this problem.

So, either someone will have to do some work with my ashes to get them ready or I need a new plan. In the end, it will likely be my daughters’ decision what to do. Here is what I hope they’ll do. I only wish I could be with them.

Choose a windy day and stand at any spot out in the country. Then (this part is important) turn your back to the wind. Open the box and toss the ashes into the air.

For the first time in my well-planned life, let the wind take me where it may.


(I’m so excited that this post was featured on Discover’s best of WordPress at



86 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans

  1. My hubby and I are quite similar. He wants to be released in a football oval, and I have no preference, only to be cremated and set free. When a relationship matures, there is no morbidity in discussing this kind of thing. It is simply something we need to know.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. It’s nice to know there are some people out there still think about afterlife just like you. But I think let it flow, live your life today. The only thing that you have to concern is ‘get through this day’. Say that again tomorrow. I always do that when I have problems though. It works well.
    But once again, I really appreciate your opinion. God bless

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Good thinking. And I think it’s great that you can share these important thoughts (and your writing) with your family. The writing is lovely. I felt like I was pacing alongside you as you pondered the question of what’s best for you?

        Liked by 2 people

  3. My dad decided to spread my mom’s ashes on the lake they loved. It sort of surprised us adult kids, but it was a lovely service. I asked him a few months later if he wanted the same to be done for him and he said yes. Little did I know he would be killed by a tired trucker a month later. We set his ashes free on the same lake as mom and I like to think of them there together. When I visit that lake I paddle out to their spot to visit. It’s peaceful. Sometimes we water ski over their spot and I’m pretty sure they are grinning.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It really goes to show that we shouldn’t waste time. Your comment is moving. It’s the length of a comment, but it feels like I just read a richly detailed story. i have such beautiful images in my mind that I want to pick up right now and head to a lake.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t actually think this is morbid. My husband and I have had similar conversations. Planning for the future, even after you are gone, is a good idea. And your thoughts on what you want are beautiful.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Your writing and your sentiments are just lovely. Such simple yet profoundly moving sentiments – it’s almost as if I know you. I lost my father and mother-in-law in the space of 1 month. My father’s ashes lie with his dogs and deer in his garden, and we often sit and visit. My mother-in-law is waiting tor me to let her swim her way back to her treasured Danube. I myself hope to be made into two CZ diamonds, to be given to each son. Everyone has their own idea of what should happen to their remains – the important thing is to let your loved ones know your wishes so they can bury you with your dogs, or make a diamond out of you, or throw you into the wind to fly free.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. A great post! I love your writing! Yes not many people plan their afterlife, but it is practical to think about it. I didnt know ashes are poisonous to plants. For me I likely will go for cremation and would love my ashes to be spread to the ocean. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. “Choose a windy day and stand at any spot out in the country. Then (this part is important) turn your back to the wind. Open the box and toss the ashes into the air.- this decision is priceless and it is so beautiful and brings a bit sadness at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Omg this is such a beautiful post ,a tad morbid but it’s just completely takes me back and it’s sorta really really makes me wanna let the wind take me where it wants to for once instead of fighting each time against it on my own volition

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love the thought of letting the wind take you where it will.
    My husband and I often tell our children- if they don’t want to cremate us- to please bury us in the pioneer cemetery a few miles from our farm. It is wild, overgrown and out in the middle of nowhere. A lovely place to be….where the wind blows and the wildflowers are free to bloom.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post. You took something typically difficult, added humor and a personal touch, and then ended with a poignant line that shows your life and captures the reader. So well written. Personally, I wanted to be cremated until I heard about green burials – now I think I want to decompose and fertilize trees. Cremated both my parents. One sibling couldn’t make it home so we saved some of mom and some of dad in a clear Tupperware container for her. Until the cabin was broken into and the only thing stolen was their ashes. Somewhere, my parents are on a road trip with a hardened criminal. Or maybe a transient. Either way, dad’s thrilled and mom’s pissed.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Beautiful post. I lost both parents this year. One buried, one cremated. The burial felt more “complete”.

    I have since listened to a fascinating audio book “Smoke Gets Into Your Eyes” lessons from the crematory. Highly recommended, worthy of consideration.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yes we should have our own after death plan. I suppose I had 50/50 chance of getting it right when my wife passed, oh, I honestly couldn’t remember whether she said a burial or cremation, and I went for latter, I suppose I burnt the evidence. Again I took a 50/50 approach, I didn’t throw her ashes, I placed them in a wall at the cemetery, ah yes, I visit her often. …

    Liked by 2 people

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