More and more families are realizing that planning their own final arrangements can be greatly beneficial to their loved ones. Not wanting to burden their children or spouses with the financial and logistical responsibilities of funeral planning during what likely will be an already difficult time, they’ve chosen to take care of everything before the time comes, saving their family from added stress.
What some individuals do not realize is the significance their own memorialization will have to their loved ones, and opt out of planning for it. The increasing preference for cremation over burial has led to more people believing memorialization isn’t necessary, choosing to scatter their loved one’s ashes or keep them in an urn in their own homes. But memorialization fulfills a deep human need, and they are crucial stepping stones in the journey through grief.
Technically, memorial services are events, and memorials are tangible things and places created in honor of the deceased. Gravestones, mausoleums, columbariums, plaques, trees planted in memory of a loved one, statues, or entire parks are all different monuments that honor the dead and symbolize the love and respect their family and community has for them. They act as a permanent marker to remind the world they existed long after they’ve gone, and provide the bereaved with a place to go to reflect and celebrate the life of someone they care about.
Honoring a life with your family and community can be extremely powerful. Creating a place to go to remember together can be extremely healing. Memorials provide a place to share stories, learn about parts of their life you never knew, and see the positive impact a person had on others.
Meaningful ceremonies and monuments in honor of our dead are a part of the rituals of grief. Creating a ritual of returning to a gravesite or columbarium gives purpose and focus when we may feel lost or life feels chaotic. Traditions around memorials provide solace and allow us to reflect on our loved ones and on our own lives.
The finality of losing a loved one can feel surreal. One day they’re there, the next they’re not. A funeral, celebration of life, or other type of memorial service provides a space to gather with loved ones and say goodbye. But the impermanence of an event can leave families finding it hard to grapple with the actuality of their loss. Memorials provide a more tangible closure to a life and help loved ones acknowledge their loss.
We’ve seen countless families find strength, healing and even joy in having a permanent place to return to and pay their respects to their loved ones. We encourage those interested in preplanning, or who have already preplanned but have not included in it some type of memorialization, to include a niche, engraved marker, park bench, or permanent resting place for their remains. It is a gift that will provide comfort to your family long after you have gone.