Not Just for Coffee!

You know what is something you definitely do not anticipate having to decide in your 30s? What urn you want your husband’s cremated remains to be placed in once they come back from the crematorium. And wow, do they have a lot of urns. But that’s not exactly what this is about. This is about what happens when your darling late husband has charged you with scattering some of his ashes “in a place that’s beautiful,” it’s 3:00AM, your cats are at the vet for boarding, no other living thing is in the house, and you can’t sleep before your flight out of the country. I had just cleaned and removed the labels of two pill bottles** and felt ready to start the next step. The plan was simple: take the bag out, cut a small corner off (thank you to my friend D for this idea), and slowly pour into the bottles until full.

Except there was a problem.

I picked an urn that was narrow at the bottom (where the opening is) and tapered wider at the top. Look, I didn’t think about how they get ashes into an urn. When, prior to this moment, would I ever have thought about these things? Certainly not when I said, “I do.” I didn’t think about how they put a bag inside of the urn, and THEN transfer the ashes in. This means the ashes/bag fill out the shape of the object they are placed in. Simple physics. What this also means is you cannot take said bag OUT of the urn to neatly pour the ashes into the bottles for international transport.


I was picturing my kitchen island, floor, myself, and anything within a 10 foot radius completely covered in the remains of my husband if I tried to pour while holding the urn. Did I mention I picked a marble urn? Those damn things are not lightweight. Past Me was not thinking of Future Me at all here. I stared at it, still turned upside down, for a good fifteen minutes or so wondering how I was going to do this as cleanly as possible. I wasn’t giving up, his ashes were coming with me one way or another, damnit. I don’t know if the wee hours of the morning are prime for inspiration, but inspiration eventually came.

I needed a scoop of some kind, but was absolutely NOT going to use any of my kitchen spoons. I wanted to eat off those things again without the image of cremains all over them. What else would work…? I looked over at our drip coffee maker. BINGO! I had misplaced the scoop a month or so before, and just ordered a new one off of Amazon. It came in a two-pack. Perfect, one to use for coffee, one for ashes. I let Past Me off the hook.

I fished the extra scoop out of the drawer and began to do what clearly would be one of the most confusing images anyone peering through a window would see: Me, at 4:00AM now, scooping ashes with a coffee scoop into empty pill bottles laughing. Dan did love coffee…. a lot. This seemed fitting. And ridiculous. But also, functional?

I placed the caps on the two bottles and neatly closed up the bag, screwed the urn cover back in place, and returned my beloved husband’s remains back to their spot. Done and done. I keep the extra scoop in a plastic baggie separate from the one for coffee and have “ASHES” written in big letters on the bag. You wouldn’t want to mix those up…. ew.

That scoop has served it’s additional purpose well. Occasionally, I wonder if I should leave that in a review. Widows need all the life hacks we can get. At any rate, this is just a glimpse into the weird moments your life contains when you have been through a completely shitty experience. And I thank the universe for it, because I needed that laugh at 4:00AM. Â© 2020

**I got this idea from another widow. Take the label off and they are perfect for travel. Security is absolutely not supposed to open cremated remains, so this allows them to still be visible if they want to do an inspection. Don’t forget the certificate, and it helps to learn how to say “I have the cremated remains of {mother, husband, cat, etc.} with me” in whatever language of the place you are traveling to. I’ve only been inspected by TSA, but it never hurts to be prepared!