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 and many people struggle between keeping their loved ones at home or in a columbarium at a cemetery. Deciding whether or not to keep an urn for ashes in the home 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. For others, the urn might be a comforting presence letting them know that their loved one is still with them in spirit.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to keep an urn for ashes in your home, it may be relieving to read the stories about others who have gone through this journey. Many others have hosted urns in their home and have spoken on the subject.

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.

Knowing that Ed’s condition was fatal, 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 the home that he and Linda had shared together. 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. Linda’s strong faith in her eventual reunion with Ed allows her to look at the urn in a positive light, remembering her husband and anticipating the future when they will see each other again.

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. While some people find the idea comforting, others find it unnerving. Both feelings are completely normal, and one is not better than the other. 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 or celebration of life is an important first step in getting closure after the death of a loved one, what we do with the cremains can assist us in moving forward 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 a unique versatility in memorializing those we never want to forget in a way that burial does not. While keeping customized urns in the home and/or wearing urn or cremation jewelry can bring comfort to many, for others, it does not. Cremation jewelry can come in many forms, such as an urn necklace or necklace for ashes, but the common idea is keeping a nominal amount of ashes around the neck to bring comfort when brought with you.

However, for many individuals, the idea of keeping ashes in the home or wearing ashes in cremation jewelry can seem either unsettling or just the incorrect way to treat a lost loved one – whether that’s a spiritual belief or a personal one. 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.

Only you can decide if you're comfortable keeping a cremation urn in your home. If you do decide to keep your loved one’s remains at home, but change your mind, the urn can always be interred or kept in a columbarium at a later date. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to keeping an urn in the home. Only you can know what is right for your situation and for your family.

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.


My common law husband passed 17 months ago yesterday. We only had a little over 3yrs and 4 months together but we fell in love immediately. We were both musicians and met when I overheard him saw he had seen a band 50×. I have his ashes in the home and made a little shrine with his ashes and memorabilia from his favorite band; some of his guitar picks, photos…I usually touch the urn or kiss my fingertips and touch it whenever I walk past….some nights I even bring the ashes and put them next to me in bed. My little dog goes and puts a paw or her head on them….I don’t find it strange at all…..

My mom passed away 2/2/2019 from stage 4 bone cancer. My mom wishes were to be cremated and she wanted to be home with me. At first I didn’t know how to feel having her ashes with me. After I read comments of other people’s experiences with love ones passing and how their love ones ashes are with them. I find it comfortaing to have my mom’s ashes next to me everyday.

My husband passed 8-27-2017 and he was cremated as will I. when I’m called that’s when we will be buried together. The day we picked up his remains and brought him home he went right back in the Den where he died listening to Hank, Dolly and all them singing him up. I felt so relieved when I set him on the table next to where I sit watching t.v. even our great grandchildren as young as they are go in and look and know he is there right next to the chair he always sat. And I know he sees them too. He is still here only in a different form that’s all

I don’t know how I found this site, but I’m so glad I did! My mom passed away a week ago. She was my best friend and we were so close. I talked to her 10x afay even if just to check in. She and my dad were cremated and are together! I and my daughter now have a tiny urn each with my mom’s ashes. At first I thought this could be wrong, but after reading all the wonderful and sincere comments, I feel much better. I wanted to have a part of her with me no matter where I go and this is how I’m doing it. I plan to keep the little urn next to my bed so I can talk to her every day. Thank you out there for validating me and I hope you all are finding some comfort during this sad time.

My wife’s ashes are back home where she lived for 35 years
A home she helped me build.

I keep my dad’s ashes in the bedroom in a box but I also wear his ashes around my neck in three different necklaces I just can’t bury him but the other day I was in a bad car accident and I had him around my neck I believe that he’s my angel

My husband died in 8-13-2017, it’s now March 2018, I can’t afford an iron so I have what was handed over I sleep with the leather BOX ashes are in plastic bag and tied, is it safe I seem to sleep. Better.just don’t want to.mess my husband ashes up this all I got Of my soulmate. Should I get counseling??? I’m

I just lost my father too. He had stage 4 bone cancer. I had him creamated because it was so expensive. He died on Dec. 6, 2017. I miss him everyday. It was so hard. If he is listening? I just want him to know how much I love him. I kept his ashes too. But I do want to get like some kinda stone made with a plaque on it to help remember him by. I just wanted to say THANK YOU… & YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND..

My father passed away 10/17/2017. I still cry everyday cause i miss him so much. I have his urn in my bedroom with some belongings. I bring him out & talk to him but I’ve been t’s I need to let him rip. My kids and I have a keepsake jewelry that we wear all the time but recently my girls & i have felt a dark shadow around us at night & it’s a men I also heard a men’s voice call my name & i turned it was from the armoire where i keep my dad or outside the window. Im out in the country no one around my land. My girls live in different sides of town & they see the same shadow n feel its a man. My question is could it be my dad? Is he wondering? What do i do? Does it have anything to do with keeping the urn in my room? I need help i pray eveynight.

My mum passed away 6 weeks ago her ashes are to be interred in her parents grave we have been waiting for the plaque to be engraved and as IRS our first Christmas without her my sister and I had a private session with her ashes it was beautiful it was like she wanted to tell us something…on the way out we saw jewelry on display they were designed to put ashes into we then knew what we had to do as mum loved jewelry ..we had a silver heart and a teardrop done with some of her ashes put inside ..I wear her everywhere and talk to her often its such a comfort

My mom passed away eight years ago I have her ashes in an urn and it’s on my dresser next to my bed and give me a sense of feeling to know that she’s close by and then I still have her with me my mom and I were close and I just can’t seem to get over her death I have dreams about her every night how I woke up one morning and went to her room and and found her in her bed dead of a heart attack the way her eyes and mouth where it was just something you don’t mom wanted to be cremated so when the time came I asked him if I can keep the ashes and I have done so to this day she’ll always be part of my life to always be with me tell one day see each other again .

I sleep with my husband urn every night it bring my comfort & keeps him,warm & I get to hug him all night long. I will continue to do this all my life long.

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:

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.

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