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Question
At the time my spouse died I was such a mess a family member arranged for the ashes to be placed in a vault at the Veterans Cemetery in Oregon.Now that I'm thinking  clearer I want to bring the ashes home.My pastor says not having them with me is keeping me from working through my grief as I feel like I've abandoned him.Is it possible to have them removed,if so how do I do this?

Answer
Hi Linda,

Lucky for you, it's easy to remove - and move - cremated remains. Doubly lucky for you, all you need to do is contact the VA Cemetery and ask them how to go about it, and what their charges are for disinterment.

If you live outside of Oregon they'll also need to ship them to you, so you'll want to get the costs on that, as well.  Given that it's a VA cemetery, chances are they may not require you to have a special urn to ship in; that could be an expense, and I'm not sure what the average cemetery does these days, but there will be crating the urn vault and then the cost of shipping. Could get spendy.

Do you ever come to Oregon? If so, the least expensive way to get the remains into your possession would be to pick them up yourself at the cemetery; that way you'd only be paying for the cost of the disinterment.

You can travel with cremated remains - they're considered "personal property" and pose no threat to human or environmental health. If you're flying, make sure you contact the TSA (visit their website; the question is in their FAQ somewhere) to see what sort of container is required. Basically, the container needs to be x-rayable, and if you're not ready for a special urn, the remains could be in a plastic bag, inside a cardboard box, as a carry-on, because they're special to you and you don't want to send them through checked luggage...).

Assuming they're buried and not in a niche, why don't you give the cemetery a call and find out what the charges for disinterment are? Make sure you get them broken out, and not in a lump sum. Then, if you need to post a follow-up question here, feel free to do that and I'll take you through the next step.

Otherwise, you should be good to go, (and on your way to closure...)

Hope that helped!

best,

Cynthia

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Cynthia Beal

Expertise

Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.

Experience

Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

Organizations
ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

Publications
American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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