How long may I keep ashes?

Q. How long may I keep my husband’s ashes home with me, before I am ready to bring him to holy grounds. He has an urn next to the Blessed Mother on his nightstand. We had a Catholic Mass, and then went to chapel, for his final resting place before he was cremated. My daughters and I are not ready.

Di, via e-mail

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

You will feel much better after you bury your husband’s remains in sacred ground. I see no reason why you cannot bury your husband’s remains in a Catholic cemetery or mausoleum immediately. If you can adorn the burial spot with an image of the Blessed Mother, so much the better. Catholic cemeteries are open every day of the year during daylight hours, so loved ones can come to visit, remember and pray for the deceased. A Catholic cemetery, because it has been blessed and sanctified, is sacred ground.

Your real need to feel physically connected to your deceased husband is understandable, and even beautiful. However, you will find a much greater connection to your husband by spending time in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament where Jesus Christ is really, truly and substantially present. Since your deceased husband is now in eternity, your best connection to him will be through Christ, who reigns in heaven but is here on earth in the holy Eucharist.