Toots, I in no way suggested to anyone that the remains be divided; I put it out there as a possible solution (suspecting that it might be an issue for some - which is why I asked) on this board to get opinions. There are lots of opinions, and I thank you all for them. Additionally, no one has suggested to the widow that remains be divided either. The facts are that Grandmother wants them OR wants to be flown up, at great fuss and expense.
And yes, it's not my issue, it's my mother's. I'm not involved - I just wanted to know what EHellions thought. As to it not being my mother's problem either, my Grandmother made it her problem. My mother could just say "Not my problem, Mom" but Mom is a 99 year-old woman who lost her son, and I imagine my mother is trying to broker a compromise.
But I would say, it is absolutely not her place to broker a compromise. It would be really awful for your Mom to go to her grieving sister-in-law and say, "My mother, your MIL, wants you to send her the cremains so she can have them for a memorial service."
If I were the sister-in-law, that would piss me off bigtime.
And my automatic response would be, "absolutely not! Of course she would be coming for the memorial service, no?"
And if the answer was, "it's too hard for me to deal with," then BOY would I be mad.
So I don't think there IS any compromise that your mother should be "brokering." Or, the compromise would be ONLY between her and Grandma, and should involve ONLY what your mom is able or willing to do in assisting her own mother to travel to the memorial service of her son, your mom's brother.
To me this is an absolute. The remains belong to the widow. (Maybe to the child--but apparently not an issue in this case, and still, the widow trumps. Spouses are legally, socially, morally more important than anyone else.)
Anything else is extremely over the top and out of line.
So I don't think it would be proper in any way for your mother to approach her SIL with any of these suggestions. At all. Period.
Her only role is to say, "Mom, here's what I'm willing to do to help you if you want to come to the memorial service." That's all. Period.