My Husband’s Ashes Are On My Dresser

Dear Hal,
After four dates, a woman I was seeing asked me to spend the night with her. When we went to her bedroom, she noted that her deceased husband’s ashes were in an urn on her dresser. It was a total mood-killer for me. I said as much and, as politely as possible, said good night. Now she doesn’t return my calls. Was I wrong to feel so uncomfortable? Is this usual? Her husband has been gone over eight years.
Thanks,
Ashes to Ashes
Dear Ashes,
People grieve and (usually) return to a “new normal” after a period of time. No one can ever know how long it takes. In many ways, we never fully recover from a loss but, in my opinion, we should all aspire to a balanced life that includes a sense of optimism about the future. In your case, I think eight years is enough time to have reached the point when it should be possible to move the urn out of the bedroom in such circumstances. I understand the depth of the attachment they obviously shared, but the very fact that she invited you to spend the night tells me she is living more in the “now” than the “then.” I don’t think you were wrong in reacting the way you did and I think her persona non grata posture should be taken as a predictor of trouble ahead should you have indeed spent the night with that urn in your peripheral vision.

Hal

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