The long road to the right grave

Waltraut rabenstein, nee romanowski, is 79 years old. She's in a wheelchair because she has arthritis – for over 50 years. But that never stopped her from living: only at the end of september she moved from a senior citizens' home near pforzheim to bad staffelstein.

Because of the therme. "And because i saw those wheelchair users in london on television." those who achieved the best performances at the paralympics. "So I thought: if they can do it, so can I." and besides, a friend told her that the home is overpriced.

So she packed her bags and moved into a small apartment near the spa, which a friend got for her. But now waltraut rabenstein is dissatisfied. First, even the obermain therme doesn't ease her pain. And second, she wants an anonymous coffin burial. And that probably does not work in bad staffelstein.

The case, says mayor jurgen kohmann, lies with registrar wolfgang jung for review. But he didn't give her much hope, says waltraut rabenstein: there wasn't enough room. Actually, the 79-year-old did not have to bother – other cemeteries with the possibility of anonymous burial are not too difficult to find, there are for example in bamberg or weitramsdorf. But an anonymous burial there is only possible in urns – and that is out of the question for the 79-year-old: "jesus decides how it will go with me. When I get to the holle, I'll be burned – and not before." and that makes things difficult.

But waltraut rabenstein is not deterred by this: "i will fight", she says. Because that's what she's done all her life. Against the trauma she suffered when, at the age of eleven, she was confronted by a russian deportation squad in east prussia and only survived by chance. Against the grief that came over her when her first husband fell in love with her, because it became clear that she would pass the arthritis on to her children. Against the loneliness that overcame her because her family never forgave her for putting her mother in a nursing home because of her own illness.

But her faith gives waltraut rabenstein the strength to keep fighting: she pushed her wheelchair to the phone with the coarse gray keys that she keeps next to her bed – and called the city of lichtenfels. But they also dismissed it.

Because in lichtenfels anonymous coffin burials are theoretically possible – but only if you live in lichtenfels or have relatives or friends there, who take care of the formalities.
Whether this is legally permissible is unclear: "there are lawyers who say yes and others who say no.", alexander helbach of the aeternitas association, which advises people on the subject of burial, explains. But the fact is: as long as waltraut rabenstein can't find someone to buy her a grave, she won't get one.

Not a burden to anyone
And how would it be to be buried normally after all? The 79-year-old doesn't want to know about that either: "waltraut rabenstein, nee romanowski, that doesn't fit on a tombstone at all." besides, she does not want to be a burden to anyone, she says, and means: no one who has already turned away from her during her lifetime.
Stay as a last resort, we can move to a more distant cemetery: zirndorf and bad kissingen, for example, offer anonymous coffin burials to non-locals for an additional fee. "But that is so far away", she says, and suddenly her voice sounds a bit despondent. "How to get there dead?"

"No problem", says christian gleibner from the gleibner funeral home& steinmann in lichtenfels and sounds quite astonished: "of course we can regulate this, it's our daily business." you simply have to make an appointment, then waltraut rabenstein can express her wishes, it will be checked what is feasible and where and how it can be financed.

Such a thing is called a funeral contract – and without such a contract this case is almost impossible to get rid of. Because if waltraut rabenstein dies before she has found a suitable grave, the public order office will worry about the burial – and it will pay particular attention to the costs, which are significantly lower with an urn burial.
So back to waltraut rabenstein. She beams when she hears about the new possibility. "Oh, I'm so glad", she calls. And writes down with rough numbers the telephone number. Right after that she wants to roll ruber to her phone again. For the road to the anonymous coffin burial was long. And for waltraut rabenstein, nee romanowski, time is running out.

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