When his partner died last October, the 75-year-old man expressed a wish for her to be laid to rest in his family grave in Kronokyrkogården on the island of Aspö in southern Sweden.
Despite the fact that the man's wishes for his partner's ashes were supported by several other members of his family, the Blekinge county administrative board denied his request saying that the grave was only for married relatives.
"I think this is madness. If you don't count as close kin after 40 years living together, when do you," said Margareta Svensson, representing the relatives for funeral firm Fonus, to the local Sydöstran daily.
A number of relatives appealed the board's decision but an administrative court has rejected their complaint, finding in support the board.
The court's decision is based on a government decision from 1965 specifically concerning the churchyard in question which stipulates that it is a place of burial for "husband, wife, unmarried sibling or other close relative".
In order for the category of "other close relative" to be used an application has to be submitted to the country administrative board. The board found no grounds to accept the application and the court has now supported its decision.
Margareta Svensson argued that the law needs to be changed to clarify what is meant by "close relative". The family are meanwhile considering whether to fight their case in the administrative court of appeal.