There are many reasons why people establish memorials for loved ones who have died. Some are created as a way of coping with the overwhelming grief felt after a death, while others are established in memory of a person or historic event. Get tips on choosing the right type of memorial for your situation.
Choosing a Memorial
Memorials come in all forms from simple and complex to virtual and real-life. Some may be extravagant and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, while others are priceless. Choosing a memorial depends on many things:
- The personality of the person who died
- The person establishing the memorial
- If establishing a memorial to commemorate an event, how widespread were the deaths; did they affect a small community or an entire nation
- How the memorial be viewed
- Budget of the person creating the memorial
- Who will view the memorial once it is completed
- Will you need help from outside sources such as friends, family members or even a community
- Once it is created, who plans to see to its upkeep
- Is a memorial appropriate in the deceased person's religion and culture
- What do you plan to include (i.e. poems, condolences, photos, etc.)
- Would the commemoration embarrass the person if he or she was still alive
Types of Memorials
Memorials can be as simple as a potted plant to something as elaborate as a war memorial and everything in between.
Memorial gardens are a popular choice when commemorating a person's life. The hope is that whenever the plant, flowers or tree blooms, you will remember that person. It's very simple, but also a very beautiful and honorable way to keep someone's memory alive. Some examples of horticultural memorials include:
- Flower gardens: Anything from roses and lilies to morning glories and sunflowers can be included in a memorial flower bed. It all depends on the climate in which you live and how much color you want. These gardens can also be dressed up with engraved brick pavers, statues of angels, waterfalls, wind chimes or any other garden decor. Many people feel a sense of calmness when they work in these gardens.
- Trees: Contact the Arbor Day Foundation for information on planting memorial trees.
- Fruit/seed bearing bushes: You can also contact your local recreation or state park system to find out how you can have some bushes planted in memory of a lost loved one.
Virtual memorials are becoming more popular these days as people are just finding it easier to create remembrances online rather that anywhere else. Computer literacy is making it easy for most to just hop on the Internet and create a memorial at one of the many online bereavement Web sites available. Or if they choose, they can purchase a domain name and build their own Web site from scratch. A word of caution: If you choose to put someone else's pictures in a memorial on the Internet, you will need to password protect them so they cannot be stolen and used elsewhere online. Also, make sure you have permission from the deceased person's family before publishing a memorial online. Some free and easy-to-use online virtual memorial Web sites include:
Buildings, Museums and Monuments
For centuries, commemorative statues, buildings and monuments have been erected in memory of those who perished in wars, natural disasters, major accidents and even terrorist attacks. Citizens from all over the world join forces and create public remembrances of those killed during these historic events. This is why we establish memorials so future generations will understand the sacrifices made by those who died.
Some of the more popular memorial buildings and monuments include:
- Lincoln Memorial - Washington, D.C.
- Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Washington, D.C.
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Keystone, South Dakota
- National September 11 Memorial & Museum - New York, New York
- Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum and Visitor Center - Honolulu, Hawaii
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Washington, D.C.
Various museums and monuments are also constructed in memory of famous people who died, including movie stars, musicians, presidents, politicians and sports figures.
- Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum - Cleveland, Ohio
- Pro Football Hall of Fame - Canton, Ohio
- The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum - Cooperstown, New York
- The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation - Yorba Linda, California
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum - Simi Valley, California
- Gerald F. Ford Presidential Library & Museum - Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Elvis Presley's Graceland - Memphis, Tennessee
- Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum - Branson, Missouri
- Strawberry Fields (in memory of John Lennon) - New York, New York
Final Thought on Why We Establish Memorials
When it comes to memorials, it truly is the thought that counts. Many people won't care if you created a memorial on a piece of paper or on a brick of gold. What's most important is that you remembered your loved one who has died and try to keep his or her memory alive. How you did that is really not as relevant.