Grieving Debra Parsons will have her mum Doreen for Christmas dinner this year – by scattering her ashes on the turkey then tucking in.
And for dessert she’ll enjoy Christmas Pud...with a dusting of her mum’s last remains too.
Debra, 41, has felt the urge to eat Doreen’s ashes since she died in May and has had a small
spoonful most days to feel “as close as possible” to her.
But as she faces Christmas without her, the craving has become even stronger.
“It is the only thing that will get me through my first Christmas without mum,” said Debra.
“People might think I’m mad or that it’s not a very respectful thing to do but I just can’t stop myself.
“I see it as a positive thing – allowing her to be close to me and also involving her in the family day.
“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.
“It will be my first Christmas without her and I want her to be involved and this is the only way that feels right to me.”
Doreen Brown died suddenly from an airway obstruction after suffering a chest infection in May.
It was yet another tragedy for mum-of-two Debra, who lost a son at Christmas 1996 when he was born prematurely.
She has struggled for years to cope with her grief – but when Doreen passed away she plunged to an all-time low.
“My mum and I had a really strong bond and one which could never be broken, even by death,” Debra said.
“She has been the one who has helped me through all the other ups and downs of my life and then suddenly she just wasn’t there anymore.
“I was distraught.”
After the funeral and cremation Debra began to think what she would do with Doreen’s ashes – but rejected the traditional idea of scattering them at a beauty spot her mum loved
“It wasn’t something I had ever thought about,” she said. “I always thought I would have more time to think about it.
“I knew Mum was ill but never expected her to pass away when she did. So when she went I had that feeling of huge loss but also of regret over all the things that went unsaid and all the times we would miss in the future.
“I decided I wanted to do something with her ashes that would make a difference to how we remembered her. I didn’t want to just scatter them because that would feel like throwing her away.”
Two months later, one of Debra’s two sisters, who are unaware of her unorthodox ritual, delivered her share of the ashes to her home.
“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.” But one day – when she was missing her mum more than usual – Debra had a moment of inspiration.
“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. I felt confused by what I had done to begin with but the feeling of comfort and closeness it brought was the first bit of solace I’d had since her death.”
Each day, Debra’s urge to eat her mum’s ashes became harder to resist.
And as Christmas nears, she is planning to take her secret to the next level. She added: “I have been having a little taste most days – sometimes on my finger or on a little spoon.
“But Christ-mas has always been a really difficult time of year since the anniversary of my son’s death is December 28 and as it gets close this year I feel the urge even more. Christmas is a special time of year when you want to be close to the ones you love the most and I feel the loss of those that aren’t here more strongly now than ever.
“But I don’t want to just eat the ashes on my fingers – I’d like my mum to be a part of the celebration this year so I will have her with my Christmas dinner.
“We will have a place laid for her and a picture of her on the table so she can be with us on the very
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