Can ashes be commingled?



Q. Among my dying husband's wishes was the desire to save land for the living and therefore to be cremated and interred at Willamette National Military Cemetery near Portland, Oregon.

I, too, shall be cremated and interred at Willamette National, sharing my husband's niche. I would like my ashes to be mingled with his. Does that violate Catholic teaching? (Estacada, Oregon)

A. Catholic practice does not include commingling the ashes of spouses. This is based on the church's belief that the body of a person is God's temple and therefore deserves individual honor and preservation.

However, here might be a solution: Catholic cemeteries customarily offer companion urns, with two separate chambers, so that the ashes of a married couple can be buried side-by-side in the same vessel.

And it strikes me that these receptacles would eventually disintegrate, leaving what you desire -- that, over time, the ashes would be mixed.

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at [email protected] and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.