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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

BIL’s wife buried with ex-husband

Marcy Sugar and Kathy Mitchell Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My brother-in-law married “Rose,” a divorcee, a year ago, although they had been living together for several. This was a second marriage for both of them, and they each have adult children. Rose died three months ago from a quickly spreading cancer. She was only 67.

Here’s the problem: Rose’s three adult sons insisted that the name on the death notice, death certificate and grave marker be her first husband’s, with no acknowledgment of her current legal last name. My brother-in-law protested, but was bullied into doing what the boys wanted.

But that is not the end of the story. The sons then had their father’s ashes placed into Rose’s coffin and buried them together in a Catholic graveyard – and their father was Jewish.

Our family is distraught over these unethical, horrific, selfish events. Can you imagine being buried with your divorced husband’s ashes? These were not her wishes. Is there any recourse? – Hurting for My Brother-in-Law

Dear Hurting: Were Rose’s wishes in writing? Did she leave instructions with an attorney? Rose’s children want their parents to be together. Your family can consult a lawyer, but it is unlikely you will get the ex-husband’s ashes disinterred unless your brother-in-law is prepared for a legal fight. We suggest your brother-in-law put a second death notice in the paper with Rose’s legal married name so that their friends and family members will know. Beyond that, please be supportive of whatever your brother-in-law chooses to do.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.