Why shouldn’t we take cremated remains home or scatter the ashes?

Catholics must keep remains intact, lay them to rest in a sacred space, and maintain full respect for the body.

In the aftermath of loss, family members and friends are often left reeling, grasping for something to hold onto. This desire for stability or the chance to say goodbye is certainly understandable. It may seem comforting to keep an urn nearby, perhaps on the living room mantle. Well-intentioned family members might place their loved one’s ashes into jewelry or disperse them among other relatives.

However, the Church always seeks her children’s best interest, and for this reason she teaches that cremains must be kept intact and laid to rest in a sacred space. Storing an urn at home prevents those mourning from saying a final goodbye. It inhibits emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing.

“Part of the funeral process and why we have funerals is to say goodbye to our loved ones—the healing process doesn’t start until you’ve actually said goodbye.”

Scattering ashes and similar practices also detract from the integrity of the body. The way we treat each person, living or deceased, must speak to the dignity with which God created them.