The loss of a loved one is one of the hardest experiences a person can go through. Everyone processes their grief differently, and as long as their mourning doesn’t harm anybody else, well, more power to them. Even if their grief process is literally eating their mother’s ashes.
For 41-year-0ld mother of two Debra Parsons, of Folkestone, UK, the death of her mother Doreen this past spring was unexpected and devastating. Debra and Doreen had a close relationship, and Doreen’s sudden passing left Debra feeling helpless. Eating a small spoonful of Doreen’s ashes every day was the only thing that brought some of that closeness back.
“I see it as a positive thing – allowing her to be close to me and also involving her in the family day,” Debra told The Mirror. “I feel like she can live on by being inside of me because if she is part of me. She can breathe through my body. My breath is her breath.”
The first holiday after losing a loved one can be especially difficult, and Debra has a plan to help herself get through them. This Christmas, she will add her mother’s remains to the meal, including the stuffing and the dessert.
Deciding to eat her mother’s ashes was a gradual process, Debra says. Shortly after her mother passed, Debra couldn’t bring herself to scatter the ashes because to her it felt like throwing her mother’s remains away. Instead, she kept the ashes close by at all times.
“At first I kept them in a plastic sandwich bag. I wanted to be with them all the time so I had them by my bed or with me around the house. Then I got a little box for them so I could have them on display but no matter what I did I just couldn’t get that feeling of closeness.”
The idea to eat the ashes just sort of came to her, she says.
“I don’t know what made me do it the first time – it was just an urge, I can’t describe it. I opened the box and licked my fingers and just dipped them into the powder. Before I knew what I was doing they were in my mouth and the chalky, salty taste was comforting.”
While eating a parent’s ashes definitely seems strange to most of us, it does have precedent in human history. Numerous cultures around the world have practiced “endocannibalism,” or the eating of a loved one’s remains after their death, like the Yanomami in Brazil and Venezuela. More recently, another woman was profiled on TLC’s My Strange Addiction for eating her husband’s ashes.
Debra understands that most people don’t sympathize with her decision, but luckily for her, her fiance, (who preferred not to be named in the press), is OK with it.
“I am lucky that my loved ones understand what I am doing. And I know my mum would have been happy for me to do whatever I needed to get over no longer having her in my life.”
Let’s just hope everything on her Christmas dinner table is VERY clearly labeled.
h/t: Pizza Bottle