Why are great memorial ideas so important? The answer lies in the idea that no one really dies until their memory is gone from the hearts and minds of the people who knew and loved them. The best memorial ideas work because they constantly remind people about the life, personality, ideas and character of someone who has passed on.
That's why it's so important to create a framework of positive memories, and why there are so many different ways to create memorials. Equally, if you've taken the enlightened step of planning your own funeral arrangements in advance, there's lots you can do to make sure you live on in people's minds. In fact, the only constraints on memorial ideas are your, and your loved ones', imaginations and financial means.
Modern and traditional memorial ideas
Memorial ideas range from the very traditional (such as a conventional memorial headstone) through to the ideas such as star naming, online memorials and memorial CD/DVD recordings. Either way, memorials can be simple or elaborate, large or small, religious or non-religious, very expensive (an elaborate marble monument) or low cost (such as a simple wooden memorial plaque).
The key to choosing a memorial should be that it has personal meaning and creates a sustainable connection between the person whose life is being remembered and those who survive them (or those in future who might not have known them).
The following are a selection of proven memorial ideas:
Memorial plaques, often attached to a memorial seat or other memorial item, are available in a wide range of styles and sizes and in materials such as acrylic, brass, hardwood and marble effect. They are usually, but not exclusively, used in conjunction with another memorial.
Memorial stones are generally made of a slate, marble or granite and usually erected (with permission) in churchyards or cemeteries. Prices range from a few pounds to many hundreds of pounds for more elaborate designs; you might want to visit a selection of local memorial masons or investigate the huge range of memorial stones available online.
Whether you buy locally or search the internet, always look for a business that specialises in monumental masonry. In the UK, the two main trade organisations are the National Association of Memorial Masons (founded 1907) and the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (founded in 2004).
Memorial benches (or memorial seats) are often put in a place that had special meaning for the deceased, and where other people with similar interests will appreciate the bench: on a beautiful coastal or hillside path; in a quiet park; maybe even in a favourite churchyard.
It's usual to attach a memorial bench plaque to the seat with a brief message about the person who is being remembered and why the place had special meaning for them. The message can be carved into the timber or engraved on a small brass or plastic memorial bench plaque attached to the bench.
IMPORTANT: If you would like a bench to be put on land that you do not own, you must obtain permission, usually from the local council or a private landowner.
A memorial garden bench
These are aimed specifically at ornamental parks or private gardens and range from simple bench seats to tree seats and tree benches that fit around the trunk of a mature tree. Other benches feature intricate designs; several manufacturers even market what they call a Lutyens Bench (a replica of a design by Edwin Lutyens), which could also make a great memorial.
Always consider the personality of the deceased when choosing bench memorials; some people are 'ornate or swirly' while others prefer simple, understated elegance. As for all memorial benches, the key to longevity lies in selecting suitably durable timber such as Grade A Teak or Iroko. Depending on size, specification, engraving or plaque requirements, typical memorial benches in the UK can cost between £250 and £1000.
A green memorial
Where someone has a green funeral, their remains are often buried or scattered in an area of tranquil woodland or a peaceful meadow. Even if you're not planning a green funeral, you might wish to consider a green memorial for yourself or your loved one.
Green memorials are usually areas where cremated remains can be buried beneath the memorial. Alternatively, they can be shrubberies where ashes can be scattered (often in conjunction with a memorial plaque or other indicator such as an adopted tree, a bench, a remembrance wall, shrubbery stones or similar devices). Green memorials are usually located in an attractive place that encourages quiet contemplation and remembrance of the deceased.
More memorial ideas
Books on funeral planning and websites are full of novel ideas for personalised memorials. In addition to the memorials mentioned above, here are some more possibilities:
Simple or elaborate, low cost or expensive, the most important thing is to keep remembering.
How to make sure you get the memorial you would want?
Do you have special memorial ideas to help family and friends remember you after you've passed on? Whether you want to a star named after you, or simply to have a bench placed on a favourite country walk, it's vital that your next of kin know your wishes.