Posts Tagged ‘Funerals’

When my Mother died in 1995 her body was cremated as she wished.  I collected her ashes and when I was asked where they would be placed, was happy to tell the crematorium, and pleased to know this was being recorded for the benefit of future genealogists.

I hadn’t thought to ask Mother where she’d like her ashes to go, and briefly considered putting them in the Avon/Otakaro River which she loved.  However I knew this would be offensive to Maori, and decided that I would scatter them in my garden, knowing she’d be happy with this.  I didn’t want to place them under a particular tree or shrub, thinking that could be problematic if we later moved somewhere else.  My idea was simply that she would return to the earth in a general way.  Mother used to live in a Theosophical community and I remembered her saying that after a senior member died and his ashes were scattered on a grassy slope it felt strange to walk past little piles of ash knowing they were his.  Consequently I gently forked Mother’s ashes into the soil, so they were well mixed into various parts of my garden.

Some years later I was disturbed to learn that pregnant Maori women are advised not to attend any funeral or go near a site where there is any part of a dead body (because they are tapu when pregnant).  I wasn’t expecting any pregnant Maori visitors but was aware that if any came I’d need to explain that my home might not be suitable to receive them.  A few years ago an older man, well-versed in Maori spiritual lore, came to see me to bless a taonga I’d been given, and I told him of my concern.  He offered to cleanse my property and we followed a ritual for this.  It’s good to have had this done, to know that Mother’s ashes can rest in peace, and any pregnant visitors are quite safe.

I like to honour local lore,
and tikanga I can’t ignore.

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