The number of Americans who choose cremation when pre-planning their funerals has increased over the years. Some who pre-plan also share how they would like to have their cremains (cremated remains) stored or dispersed. Others leave that decision to their family members.
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Some of those family members choose to keep their loved one’s cremains at home because it makes them feel closer to the one they lost. Others may have their loved one’s remains at home while waiting for an opportune time to move the cremains to an eternal resting place.
Whether you are making your own end-of-life plans or you have your loved one’s cremains at home, this article is for you. Here are some ideas on how to keep your loved one’s ashes at home — either temporarily or for the rest of your life.
Is it OK to Keep Cremains at Home?
There’s nothing bad about keeping cremated remains at home. Even though the practice is legal, those from specific faith communities may object to the practice.
Some religious faiths, such as followers of Islam, Eastern Orthodox, and some Jewish sects forbid cremation.
Other faith communities allow cremation, although burial is preferred. These groups include Catholics, Mormons, and Presbyterians.
Most of the faith communities that allow cremation have no guidelines on what should be done with the cremains. The exception to this is the Catholic Church. The Vatican issued a statement in 2016 that said a Catholic’s remains should be buried or placed in a cemetery or consecrated place. The Catholic Church specifically banned the scattering of ashes and having the ashes kept at a personal residence.
Before making any decisions involving cremation, it is best to consult with a member of your clergy. Overall, unless your religion bans cremation, or you are Catholic, you are fine to keep your loved one’s ashes at home with you.
How You Can Keep Cremated Remains at Home
If you prefer to keep your loved one close to you, here are some ideas of what to do with cremains. Keep in mind that not all of these choices may appeal to everyone. How to handle a loved one’s remains is a deeply personal decision.
Here are some ideas for you to consider.
1. Create a special spot for the urn
One of the most common ways to keep a loved one’s cremains at home is to buy a decorative urn for ashes. Once the cremains are sealed in the receptacle, you can create a special spot on a mantle or nicely decorated nook to display the container.
2. Create a shrine for your loved one’s remains
Some people go one step further when finding a unique spot to display an urn. Some families create a small shrine for their loved ones.
Besides placing their loved one’s remains in the nook, they may also include photographs, candles, and other mementos in the display. This is especially common in Buddhist homes.
3. Create your own cremation garden
Some communities have cremation gardens, which are beautiful places where loved ones can pay to scatter cremains. If you like this idea but you want to keep your loved one close to you, consider creating your own cremation garden in your backyard.
Depending upon the size of the garden, you may want to add accessories such as benches, stepping stones, or birdhouses to decorate the space. You may even personalize those accessories with the name of your loved one or a favorite quote or verse.
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4. Create a piece of jewelry
If you want to be physically close to your loved one at all times, you could consider having a company create a piece of jewelry from your loved one’s cremains. There are many options available at all different price ranges.
Some of the pieces are small receptacles that you can wear around your neck that hold a tiny portion of the cremains. Other artisans can create glass out of the cremains and create a piece of custom-made jewelry for you.
If you have your deceased loved one's lock of hair or cremated remains, you can send them in to be turned into a memorial diamond. After a consultation and a few months of waiting for the diamond to grow, you'll have a custom diamond that you can get set on a ring, necklace, or other jewelry.
Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.
5. Create a decorative piece
Instead of keeping an urn on your mantle filled with your loved one’s cremains, you can also have the ashes made into a decorative piece. You will see that almost any shape, style, and color is available online. You may feel more comfortable having a beautiful suncatcher in your homemade from the remains of a beloved grandmother rather than an urn sitting on the mantle.
6. Mix the cremains with the soil for a plant
Some people like the idea that their bodies will eventually nourish other living things. You may consider mixing your loved one’s cremains with compost or soil and planting a houseplant in the mixture.
7. Plant a tree
If you are concerned about keeping a houseplant alive, you may feel more comfortable mixing your cremains with the soil you use to plant a tree or bush in your yard. A tree is more forgiving than a houseplant and it’s easier to take care of when you go away on a long trip or are away from home for any length of time.
Before you decide to plant your loved one’s cremains near the root ball of a new tree, consider how you will feel upon moving away from that piece of property. You may think that you will live at your current house until you die, but this may or may not be viable.
8. Create a vase out of the cremains
Instead of having a decorative piece created, you could also have the cremains made into a vase. A vase is a useful article and can be stored lovingly away when not in use.
On special days throughout the year, you can purchase your loved one’s favorite flowers to place in the vase. You may even be able to take cuttings from your loved one’s flower gardens throughout the year to display in the receptacle.
There are a lot of specialty urns that look like gorgeous works of art. Foreverence specializes in creating one-of-a-kind urns that reflect your loved one's passions and interests, functioning as a treasured memory.
9. Store the cremains in a plush toy made with an internal compartment
A quick search will link you with a company that makes teddy bears that can be filled with cremains. This option might be especially appropriate if your child died.
The bear can be personalized with the name of the deceased and a favorite quote or verse.
10. Get a tattoo
If you want to be particularly close with your loved one, find a company that will mix your loved one’s cremains with tattoo ink.
Then have a tattoo artist use the ink to create a visual reminder of your loved one on your body. You can’t get much closer to your loved one than having his or her cremains injected under a layer of your skin.
11. Search for other creative ideas
If you thought creating tattoo ink from your loved one’s cremains was an interesting idea, you will be amazed at what you can pay companies to do with the ashes of your family member.
You can have the cremains made into a vinyl record, shotgun shells, or fireworks. It seems the sky’s the limit on what you can do with your family member’s cremains.
Keep a Loved One’s Cremains
As you consider these options, you may also want to ask the opinions of your family members. Your children may be dismayed by the idea of their dad being placed at the base of a houseplant. Other family members may not like the idea of wearing a piece of jewelry made from the cremains of a loving grandmother. Some of these choices are not typical, and your family may be much more conservative when choosing the final resting place for their loved ones.
It would be best if you also considered what will happen with these items after you die. The urn full of your husband’s cremains is hugely personal to you, but will your grandchildren or great-grandchildren feel the same way about inheriting the container fifty years from now? If you don’t like the idea of the urn being placed in your great-great-granddaughter’s attic, you may want to make other arrangements for the cremains before the end of your life.