A Place for Peace: Why a Permanent Memorial Matters

Memorial bench on cemetery grounds.

Cremation doesn’t mean you don’t need a place to come back to. 

In the United States, cremation is the number one method of disposition, or final handling of a person’s remains. Because of this, traditional gravesites at cemeteries are being purchased less and less. Many families are choosing to hold on to their loved one’s ashes, or scatter them in a place that held special significance to the deceased. Both of these options are perfectly honorable decisions. Some find comfort in having their loved one’s cremated remains nearby, and scattering can also be meaningful as well as a ritual that helps the bereaved heal.

But many families who choose cremation don’t create a permanent memorial for their loved one, believing that without a burial, there is no need for a ‘final resting place.’ But a grave isn’t just for the dead. Rest comes to those who visit it, too. And graves aren’t the only places that provide healing and comfort for the living. There are several ways to create a permanent memorial, and several reasons why you should.

Memorials aren’t just graves.

Not to be confused with a memorial service, a gathering where people come to honor the dead and share in their loss, a memorial is a permanent place or fixture that is created in tribute of a life. While graves and their headstones create a place for family and friends to come to and pay their respects, memorials can also be statues, trees with plaques dedicated to a life lived, a personalized bench, or a rose bush planted in someone’s honor.

You can still have a final resting place with cremation.

Most people don’t think of burial when they think of cremation. But keeping or scattering ashes aren’t the only options a family has when they choose cremation. Cremated remains can also be buried in a grave, either alone or with the remains of another family member. Above-ground niches and columbariums can also provide a permanent place to keep a loved one’s ashes and allow families to personalize them with engraving.

If you choose to scatter a loved one’s remains, you can do so in a designated location that family and friends can return to, and create a marker to honor them there. Many cemeteries and funeral homes have beautiful scattering gardens for this purpose. A marker can also be placed where you scatter remains on your own private property or, with permission, another’s.

Why create a permanent memorial?

Memorials create a physical, tangible space that provide a purposeful reminder of a life that is no longer there. Although nothing can replace a life, a permanent place to return to, to reflect and celebrate a loved one, can create a grief ritual that provides closure, comfort and healing.

The rituals people create surrounding memorials are often shared, and create deeper connections between the living. Honoring a life with your family, friends and community is profoundly therapeutic. A permanent place provides space to share stories and create new traditions, and allows for family members for generations to come to visit and learn about their relative and the connections they shared.

Memorials also give closure to the grieving. Death creates a sudden and jarring change in one’s life, a void where a person just recently existed. A memorial gives the mourning a space to continually return to, to process their loss, acknowledge it, and come to terms with it over time.

There are many ways to create a unique and personalized memorial to honor a loved one in a way that meets the needs of their family, too. If you’d like to learn more about your memorialization options or cremation services at French Funerals & Cremations in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, we are always available to answer any questions you have. Call us at 505-843-6333, or contact us online.

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