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How does it feel to keep an urn for ashes in the home?

by John M. Stuart, MSW

Living with cremation urn. Copyright OneWorld Memorials.

Keeping cremains in the home is a personal decision. The topic invites thoughtful consideration as to the every-day presence of a loved one who has passed. How might that feel? Would the presence of the urn and ashes bring a constant sense of loss or uneasiness? For some the urn might elicit feelings of a presence or energy in the house that is uncomfortable.

The following true story illustrates a positive aspect of displaying a cremation urn in the home.

The Healing Journey

Linda, age 68, lost her husband Ed to brain cancer. With the support of hospice she was able to care for him in their home until he peacefully passed away. His family surrounded him with love, and provided needed support to Linda.

Linda and Ed pre-planned the memorial services and made arrangements for cremation. They chose a companion urn in which their ashes would remain together after Linda passes. The urn was engraved with a photogenic image of Linda and Ed in a loving embrace.

Linda cared for Ed for over a year in his terminally ill condition. She started preparing for a life without him that began her journey toward closure. When death finally came, she witnessed Ed’s release from physical suffering.

The urn with Ed’s ashes was placed in her home. Linda and her family experienced it as a beautiful reminder to celebrate his life, knowing his spirit was now free of a body overtaken with illness. When the hospital bed was finally removed from the living room, she was able to recapture memories of Ed full of life. Linda explained that living in their home doesn’t bring sadness, but joy. This is the space where so many happy moments were shared among family and friends.  

Linda displays the keepsake urn in her china cabinet. Around the urn are family pictures and cherished memorabilia collected through the years.  

Linda admits there are many times during a given day when she passes the cabinet without giving any thought to the urn. More often, she passes by and remembers Ed. Before retiring each evening to bed, she thinks of him. This gives her a sense of reassurance that they will one day be reunited in the afterlife.

Each Christmas the memorial urn is taken out of the cabinet as family and close friends gather around in a holiday tradition. The gathering is filled with laughter and tears as special remembrances are shared. Each of Linda and Ed’s two children keep a portion of the cremains in keepsake urns of their own. Fond memories of a beloved husband and father are kept very much alive for Linda and her family with an urn for ashes in their homes.

Would you keep an urn in the home?

It's important to remember there's no right or wrong answer when determining whether or not to keep a memorial urn in your home. It's clear that what we do with the cremains of a loved one is not only a personal preference but also a matter of the heart. 

While the memorial service is important, what we do with the cremains can assist us in getting closure in the grieving process. Closure is when we are able to come to a place of acceptance, integrating the loss of a loved one into the fabric of our lives.

Cremation offers versatility in memorializing those we never want to forget. While keeping customized urns in the home and/or wearing urn jewelry can bring comfort to many, for others, it does not. In such cases, scattering the cremains, the burial of a funeral urn in the family plot or keeping the urn for ashes in an urn vault at a columbarium are choices for consideration.

John Michael Stuart, MSW has been a social worker since 1997. He has worked in nursing home, hospice and home health settings, including one of the nation's largest Social HMO demonstration projects where he coordinated care between physicians, patients and their families. John has had cerebral palsy since birth and has authored Perfect Circles, Redefining  Perfection. He is also a public speaker and currently works as a home health social worker in Las Vegas. 

Comments

Cindy, many customers bring ashes back home. The crematory or vet should be giving you the ashes in a plastic bag which is often enclosed in a temporary urn made of plastic or cardboard. You can then put some ash in jewelry or other keepsake and the rest into a pet urn. The following articles can provide some help:

https://www.oneworldmemorials.com/blogs/news/92304582-transferring-ashes-to-a-cremation-urn

https://www.oneworldmemorials.com/blogs/news/how-to-fill-a-jewelry-urn

hi everyone i have question . did anyone bring home dog ashes b4.? he passed away today and i was think bring his ashes back home when i pick it up or even get a small amount of it so i can make a jewelry of it . what do u guys think? thank you

I should have said that my mom passed away a couple of months ago and my sister and I shared her ashes; I bought a couple of hand carved Tree of Life wooden boxes to put her ashes in. I have mine displayed in front of my TV for now. I plan to knock down a wall and rearrange the space and then will display her ashes on a shelf or more appropriate place. My mother was a Holy Spirit filled Christian and I know that she is in Heaven now. Her ashes are for my comfort. You should listen to Kat Kerr talk about Heaven.

Katherine, It’s the tarot cards that are causing your family discomfort. You need to get them out of our house. Cremated ashes won’t bring you or your family discomfort. When people pass they pass on and the ashes are for us for our comfort.

Katherine, there’s not doubt you are very uncomfortable with the situation. Perhaps try asking the question on our Facebook page, people tend to weigh in. Also, another good way to get feedback is on Reddit. There are good forums there where you can get a lot of opinions as well.

I met my recently departed first love 30 yrs ago. We were young and went our own ways. 25yra we met again had a boy and a girl in the space of 4yrs. He had his sisters ashes which I welcomed into our home. He died of a hypertensive heart disease. Now he his with his sister .There was always conflict but love between them. Now there ashes are sat together. I feel that this could be causing bad karma between my two an three year old. I have strange dreams. Something feels off kilter that is causing tension with us all .I also have his sisters tarrott cards in the home. Scared to move them out of the house. Is there a connection ??? Any comments appreciated x

My 2 month old baby girl passed away last april 6, 2017 from congenital hert defect. I wanted her to be buried but my husband wanted her cremated because his in the service and we moved every now and then and I guess it made sense to cremate her. Her urn is at home in our bedroom with fresh flowers, candles and pictures and stuffed animal with her recorded heartbeat. We take her with us everytime we move.

My Mom died one month ago today & was cremated. The main urn is in a columbarium where my Dad will go when he passes. We have more ashes in another urn that we are scattering off our beach where my Mom wanted to be. Each of us has a tiny urn . I keep mine next to my bed with her picture. My Dad does the same. My brothers are too “freaked out” to even touch their urns. I am comforted that I always have a part of her right here with me. It brings me peace.

My mom passed away recently, i planned to have her urn at home for quite sometime until we can finally prepare for her resting place. Before she died she stated that when she die she wants to go back to the place where she was born. She was born in a small island in the Philippines, known as Siquijor. It will take us sometime to bring her back there, so for the mean she will be with us at home.

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