Why is Memorialization so Important?
The loss of a loved one is often heartbreaking. Family and friends come together to celebrate that life during the wake and funeral, but that is just the beginning of the grieving process. Psychology has studied the need for memorialization-the preservation of memories around an event or people.
Why bother? It seems to be an automatic response by humans to memorialize. Think about the Taj Mahal. That is not a home or hotel. It is a tomb honoring the Rajah’s favorite wife. The Egyptian pyramids are tombs. From the beginning of time, people worldwide have remembered those they have loved by building monuments to them. Why? Because they are missing someone so important, and that hole is almost impossible to fill.
I find it difficult not to have a place to visit when someone dies. I don’t understand those that scatter the cremated remains of a loved one because there is no one place to be or to gather with others to remember, to tell stories, or to pray. I know several people who scattered the cremated remains of loved ones at lake homes, only to have to sell that property years later. Where can they physically go to remember? I find that heartbreaking.
What does a memorial do?
A memorial helps people remember, whether it’s a service with the community or a stone in a special place. When someone important is gone from the world, a memorial can help make sure that person is still alive in memory. According to Psychology Today (read article here), it can help with closure for family and friends. Although grief takes many forms and sets its own schedule, a memorial offers a way to mark the closing of a life. If there are unresolved issues in your relationship to the deceased, a memorial can also provide a way to process those.
A memorial provides a way to process grief with gratitude. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (read article here), it’s possible to experience grief and gratitude at the same time. Gratitude can even help ease the process of coping with grief, and a memorial can offer a way to focus on gratitude.
A memorial offers a place to grieve. We have seen this most often in situations of tragedy such as a war memorial, think Vietnam Memorial or the 911 Memorial in NY remembering those lost in the terrorist attack. Families of those who have died may not have a body or cremated remains to bury. The site of the memorial is a powerful symbol to those who have died, and it offers a place to spend time, leave flowers, notes, and memorabilia as they grieve their loved one.
There are many ways to memorialize. The most common is a stone or monument at a burial site in a cemetery. However, memorials can also be done at home.
- Gardens - Memorial gardens (Memorial Garden Ideas: article from Love to Know. Read Here) are a popular choice when commemorating a person’s life. The hope is that whenever the plant blooms, you will remember that person. It’s very simple, but also a very beautiful and honorable way to keep someone’s memory alive.
- “Love to Know” provides an article entitled “19 Memorial Garden Ideas for a Meaningful, Unique Space” (read article here)
- Trees/bushes - Planting a tree can create a lasting memorial to someone special. Some cemeteries, like ours, will allow a memorial tree honoring a loved one. However, families can also do this at home. I planted a fruit bearing bush at home to attract birds, bees, and butterflies to honor my sister.
- Benches/ Memorial Rocks – Some of these can be done at a cemetery, depending on their memorialization policies. We do offer cremation rocks in certain areas as well as benches that can have a name, design, or special poem/saying that reflects the person being honored.
- Cenotaphs: A cenotaph is a memorial placed at a location that does not represent the individual’s final resting place. At Resurrection, we offer this at the Peaceable Kingdom Garden, where you can honor an individual with a remembrance brick. We offer this at Gethsemane for children in the Children’s Memorial.
- Read more about Cenotaphs at Cemetery.com (read here)
We are the ones who remember, who keep the stories of our loved ones alive. We create meaning in life when there is a void caused by death. We honor our dead. Whether we do this by providing a gravestone or home shrine, it is important to memorialize. It tells the world that this person mattered and by remembering, we keep the memory alive.
To learn about the various memorials available through the Catholic Cemeteries, please click on the button below.