End of Life Planning

1/8/2024 | By Amy Dickinson

After 25 years of marriage, a husband decides he wants to be buried in his birth state, with relatives, without his wife, in a place she has never lived. His wife is annoyed at his “grave decisions” and reaches out to Amy Dickinson for advice.

Dear Amy: 

My husband has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1966. That’s 57 years! We’ve been married for 25 years.

On a recent trip to Kansas, my husband’s birth state, he learned that the family cemetery plot has room for one more person, so now he wants his remains buried next to his paternal grandparents and uncles.

These people have been deceased now for decades. I never met any of them.

There is no room for me in this family plot in Kansas, although there are plots available in another section of the cemetery. I am not interested in being buried in a state I’ve never lived in.

I am perturbed that my husband prefers to be buried with these relatives instead of near me, in the place where our five kids were raised, and where his own parents are buried.

Crow perched on a grave stone.

Rationally I know that my annoyance is silly since, after I’m dead, I won’t know where I was buried. But jeez, there is a cemetery six miles from our house and I guess I will be cremated and interred there by myself.

Am I being unreasonable, and are there other options?

– Making Grave Decisions

Dear Grave Decisions: 

It sounds as if this recent visit to Kansas triggered in your husband a very deep and sentimental desire to eventually return to the old sod. I believe this is a common and natural reaction when people at a certain stage of life visit their birthplace or ancestral home.

His choice brings up many practical issues for his survivors: the need to transport his body halfway across the country, and the fact that survivors will likely not be able to visit his gravesite very often.

Your husband’s desire to actually be buried in Kansas may fade, once he brushes the dust off after this recent trip.

There are many ways your husband could leave his mark on his birthplace during his lifetime – through support of local institutions. He could donate books to the elementary school’s library, support the historical society, or donate a fresh memorial to be installed at his ancestral cemetery. You might explore some of these options with him.

I suggest that you and your children should reserve plots at your local cemetery near his parents’ gravesites, since this seems to be where you intend to be buried.

You should revisit this choice in a few months, and he should at some point make his wishes known in writing.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from grave decisions, to hosting a party for a dying friend, and a forgetful loved one. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

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