Memorials and mementos are important links from the past to the present: they enable the living to remember those who have died. This is usually at the deceased’s resting place, but with cremation on the increase many people no longer have a conventional grave to visit. In 1960, only 34.7% of deaths involved cremation. By 2017, that figure rose to 77.05% with it set to continue rising further due, mainly, to the increasing cost of burials.
Memorialisation was traditionally a ceremony to remember a loved one, but the definition has expanded and is now the process of preserving memories of people which can be done in a variety of ways, particularly with the ashes of the deceased.
Many people choose to scatter the ashes (keeping in mind some places require a permit to do so), or to keep the urn containing their loved one’s ashes with them at home. Others, however, wish to have a place of remembrance where they can reflect, remember and find moments of peace such as a park bench, a rockery or a rose garden. Increasingly, though, novel ways of memorialising are emerging by creating mementos out of the deceased’s ashes or turning them into a tattoo. Other ideas of things which have been done with ashes include:
- Bury, inter or plant them (for example, with a tree);
- Creating a vinyl record with their favourite song, or a recording of their voice;
- Producing hand-blown glassware or stained glass;
- Having a huggable stuffed animal which contains a compartment for the ashes;
- Fireworks; and
The way in which you choose to remember your loved one is incredibly personal, but memorialisation is a human need – for those being memorialised and those who are grieving. Previously, it was reserved for the upper classes, but now it is almost considered a fundamental human right for all people.
However you choose to remember your loved one, the most important thing is that it helps bring solace in your moments of grief and, later on, peace and acceptance.