As a child, I remember wandering among the faded gravestones at the Quaker Burial Ground in Farmington, Michigan. My aunt and uncle lived a few houses away from the historic parcel, and the cemetery provided a mysterious place for a child’s escape. Curiously, I’d read the inscriptions as I calculated an individual’s age at death, decipher the worn epitaphs, and try to imagine a life lived more than a hundred years ago. Studying these permanent memorials gave me a window into the past and an instant connection to many of the small town’s founders.
Cremation On The Rise
In 2017, the U.S. cremation rate was 51.6%, and by 2022, this rate is projected to increase to 57.8%. As people have become more transient and have fewer ties to religion, cremation has become an acceptable and more cost efficient alternative to burial. These days, many people opt to take their loved one’s remains home, and a permanent memorial is never established.
Historically, permanent memorials found in cemeteries and memorial gardens have allowed families to sustain a connection to past generations. Likewise, national memorials offer citizens a place to honor those who were lost in tragic events or those who made a difference in our nation’s history. Throughout time, memorials have provided a safe place to express sorrow, tie us to our ancestors and historical events, give us peace of mind, and secure the remains of our beloved.
Options to honor your loved one
Even though more people are choosing cremation, permanent memorials can still be established to celebrate and honor those who have passed before us. Below are some memorialization options available to families:
- Inter remains in a columbarium niche. This is a specially designed structure designed to hold cremation urns.
- Donate a bench that includes a plaque to a local park, golf course, or downtown area.
- Plant a tree or establish a memorial garden, and add a personal touch by engraving your loved one’s name on a stepping stone.
- Support your loved one’s community by purchasing a plaque or brick to fund local improvements. This will ensure their name lives on forever.
- Establish a scholarship in the name of a loved one. This is a philanthropic way to honor a family member and help a student at the same time.
- Create an online memorial where memories can live on forever. Everdays provides families and friends with a community space to share photos and videos of loved ones.
“So long as we are being remembered, we remain alive.”~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind