Here are some thoughts on the question, ‘Should a couple’s remains be commingled?’
What is commingling?
Commingling a couple’s remains means that the two individual’s cremated remains (also commonly called ashes or cremains) are mixed, or “mingled” together in an urn, most often a companion urn.
Should a couple’s remains be commingled?
Commingling is usually a matter of the personal preference of the couple. If you are a family member in charge of handling the funeral and disposition arrangements, be sure to check the couple’s will to see if they had particular instructions regarding the mixing of their ashes.
When an individual’s remains come to you from the crematorium, in most cases they will be inside a durable plastic bag which will be placed inside a plastic or cardboard “temporary urn”, an inexpensive container provided by the crematory or funeral home. To transfer remains, we recommend simply taking the plastic bag out of the temporary urn and placing it inside the permanent urn.
Do remains have to be commingled in a companion urn?
No. Again, this is a matter of personal preference. Here are the two most common methods of inurning a couple’s remains:
- Simple: In the case of a companion urn, we generally advise placing each of the two individual’s plastic bags of ashes into the urn side by side. This is the simplest solution when transferring multiple remains into a double urn. In this case, the couple’s remains are together inside the urn, but are not commingled.
- Commingled: However, if the couple requested their ashes to be commingled, or if the family decided that commingling was the best expression of the couple’s love, then the easiest way to commingle and inurn the ashes is to open one plastic bag and pour the contents of the second into the first. Then you can place the newly mixed ashes into the companion urn for permanent storage.
Some religions specify how cremated remains should be handled. For instance, the commingling of cremated remains is not part of the Roman Catholic tradition for inurnment; a separation inside the container must be maintained. From The Catholic Cemeteries:
Since the human body was the temple of the Holy Spirit during life, was fed at the Eucharistic table, and will share in the bodily resurrection, contemporary cultural practices like scattering the cremated remains over water or from the air or keeping the cremated remains at home are not considered reverent forms of disposition that the Church requires. Other practices such as commingling cremated remains or dividing up cremated remains among family members or friends are not acceptable for Catholics.
Of course it is best for you to speak with your local priest, or other religious official who will oversee the funeral service and final arrangements.