If you have lost a loved one this year, you may be looking to find the best ways to remember them. Like anything else, the ways in which you can memorialize those who have died evolve, trend, and expand. This year is no different, and there are plenty of great options to choose from.
Memorializing is extremely meaningful because it symbolizes the lasting memory of your loved one. In some cases, it also represents their final resting place. This means that it could become the grounds of visitation for you, your family members, and any close friends of the deceased. That’s why it’s so important to choose the memorializing trend—or multiple trends—that holds the most meaning for you, the deceased, and the rest of their loved ones.
What Is Memorializing?
Memorializing is a way to honor the memory of someone you love who has passed away. It is also a means by which you can help preserve the memory of something or someone. In this case specifically, it is the action of commemorating the deceased.
Trends for memorializing in 2020 have become more and more individualized. There are seemingly endless options that have become more aimed toward customization to the person who has died.
The more specific and unique a memorial can be, the more meaning it will likely hold. This is why the trends are moving in that direction now more than ever.
What Is The Purpose Of A Memorial?
Memorializing a loved one is an important step in the process of beginning to grieve, and ultimately heal. It is also often a part of the final resting place of the deceased, making it even more of a critical step in the aftermath of someone’s death.
Read the following different reasons why people choose to memorialize their loved one, in the methods most symbolic to the person they’ve lost.
TO SAY GOODBYE
Memorializing is a vital step in the grieving process that happens when someone has died. With every loss that life throws at us, we must eventually let that loss go.
This step supports a healthy form of grieving which signifies that a person is moving through the stages of grief rather than getting stuck in a refusal to accept the death of their loved one.
Creating a memorial item, place, and/or service for the deceased can help those close to them be able to verbally and symbolically say goodbye.
TO GO THROUGH THE GRIEVING PROCESS
Grief can take various amounts of time for everyone, but it is important that you are moving through the process versus remaining stagnant in any one stage. For example, bottling up feelings and avoiding the pain of the loss can lead to you getting stuck in the denial stage.
A memorial can provide a sense of reality in what has happened, often giving mourners something tangible to comfort them in the absence of their loved one.
TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER
People are sometimes brought together through paying tribute to the deceased. They connect in their sorrow and in the journey of grief that lies ahead.
It isn’t an easy road, but it’s often a huge comfort knowing they don’t have to do it alone. It can be a tremendous help to be able to share in their grief with each other, but also to remember the life their loved one had lived, including the successes and memories that were shared amongst them all.
Just for a grieving person to have people to talk to about the feelings and thoughts they’re having, and to be able to reflect on the life of the deceased with each other can be greatly comforting.
Where Can You Memorialize A Loved One?
The ‘where’ of the memorial depends on which type you’ve chosen. It could be in various places, including someone’s home or backyard, a church, or even online. Read on to find the different places where memorials can occur.
Creating a memorial at home could happen in many different places, and in various ways. You could make a little memorial space where you congregate with the family such as a coffee table in a family room or an entire wall in the living room.
You could choose a more personal space such as a bookshelf in the bedroom or office . A spare bedroom or guest bedroom is another way to utilize an empty space for a memorial to a loved one.
Some ways you can decorate your memorial space include:
- Centered with an urn if they were cremated
- Adding any awards or certificates they won
- Propping up letters they wrote or degrees they earned
- With plaques or religious keepsakes
- Decorated with symbolic items like wedding or engagement rings, graduation caps, etc.
- Children’s crafts and drawings if applicable
- Propping up or dangling cremation jewelry, or photo engraved jewelry
With how much the internet plays a role in modern society, it’s not surprising that online memorials have become so popular these days. Online memorials can be created with various , independently, or via your loved one’s social media platform such as Facebook, if they used one.
Most people opt to use a memorial site since creating an independent one themselves can be a very daunting task. This EverPlans article lists out the top ten online memorial sites and specifies the prices of each.
The list can be quite helpful if you’re wondering about the varying aspects of the options that are out there—it lists the pros and cons of each site that made their list.
There are a variety of outdoor memorialization options, such as human composting, aerial scattering, fireworks, and more. These methods of paying tribute to someone are definitely more on the adventurous side, but many of them also aim to assist the environment. Depending on your loved one’s final wishes, some of these outdoor options might be very fitting as a final goodbye.
If the deceased always wanted to go out with a “bang,” then this might be the memorial of their dreams. The way it works is by mixing cremains with commercial grade fireworks materials.
The companies who put this type of memorial on display may play music while the fireworks go off, and it usually lasts around five minutes long.
Planting A Tree
There are a few different takes on this idea, but among a couple in the U.S. are The Living Urn and Better Place Forest. The latter focuses on providing a nicer place for mourners to visit—a memorial forest filled with trees instead of gravestones.
The Living Urn works with cremated remains and gives a more DIY version of tree planting for their customers. Either way, it might appeal to you to have your loved one’s remains given back to something natural and beautiful as a part of Earth.
According to a National Geographic article, our coral reefs are gradually dying off. With companies like Neptune Memorial Reefs, a person can opt to have their remains mixed with concrete materials that together can create artificial reefs.
These reefs can provide sustainable homes for marine life, and essentially help to soften the blow of all the ocean habitats that are dying.
According to a New York Times article featuring an interview with the founder of Recompose, the body is placed into a receptacle with other natural and organic materials in order to make the process of human remains transitioning into soil much quicker.
It’s becoming a more popular trend because of the positive impact it has on the environment compared to cremation.
IN A CHURCH
Churches are slightly more traditional places where you can have a memorial for your loved one. They will often do an initial memorial following the death as well as yearly memorials for recognizing the anniversary your loved one might have died.
If you are a church-goer, ask which options they might have available. If you don’t normally attend church but are still curious, it’s never a bad time to check out the churches near you in order to get some help paying tribute to your loved one.
- Private services: Check with your local church to see what options they might have for private services. This is most commonly offered in the aftermath of someone’s death.
- Communal services: This is a type of service that is sometimes referred to as an ‘All Souls’ service, or a service for the bereaved. If you’re a member of a church, attending one of these services would be a great way to memorialize someone you cared about that died in the past. Some churches also offer this during the holidays like Christmas, and special days such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. These holidays can be very painful for those who have lost close family members and friends, and many churches will offer separate services for those affected by such a loss.
Is There A Strict Time Frame For Memorializing?
If you’re in charge of planning a memorial service, you might be wondering whether you can plan to do something right away or if you should wait a little longer. The truth is, you can really plan a memorial service for whenever is the most convenient, and at the time when it feels right. You should take into account the feelings of those closest to the deceased when deciding when the best time would be to have it.
You can either have a memorial right after the funeral, a few weeks later, or even on the year anniversary. You can have an initial service immediately following their death, and a yearly memorial service as well. It may also rest on whether there is family that will need to travel from out of town, so this should also be taken into consideration.
20 Top Trends For Memorializing in 2020
If you find yourself in need of memorial ideas for deceased loved ones, there are probably more unique and creative options out there than you realized. If you’re more of the traditional type, there are always those tried and true memorial services as well. You’ll find a bit of both in the top 20 trends for memorializing in 2020 listed below.
BURIAL AT SEA
There are a few different options within this category of memorializing. The most common right now is to hire a boat that will take the family out into the ocean so they can spread their loved one’s remains there.
An Eco Water Urn is also an option aimed at a greener approach to spreading remains—it’s a patent-pending urn that floats on the water’s surface before eventually breaking down to spread into the water below.
Cremation jewelry for ashes is a type of jewelry that has space inside its pendent for the purpose of holding cremains. It’s a great way to honor someone’s memory forever, and it’s the best way to actually keep part of your loved one physically close to you for your own peace and comfort.
ASHES INTO A PAINTING
There is such thing nowadays as using your loved one’s cremains and incorporating it into a work of art. For example, you can have a modern oil painting created using the ashes of the deceased mixed with oil-based paints. If you’ve recently lost someone who you think would’ve loved this concept, this could be a great way to pay them tribute.
It could be kept in your home and kept as a family heirloom for years and years to come. It’s also the perfect idea for a gift to someone else you know who’s mourning a loss.
A digital memorial happens via websites or social media platforms. It could be through various social media sites, but Facebook is arguably the most well-known. You can also create a memorial through other platforms that specialize in creating a digital memorial of a loved one. These sites usually come complete with photos, music, etc.
COMMUNITY MEMORIAL GARDEN
A memorial garden is focused on the representation of the deceased more than actual positive environmental impact. This is because with memorial gardens, the bodies in the site are still embalmed. Therefore, the delivery of human remains into the soil takes the same amount of time as for traditional burials.
However, it always helps to plant more trees and flowers no matter where it is, and this memorial choice might fit your loved one perfectly if they wanted a traditional burial but were always in love with nature and the outdoors.
A bonus is that creating a garden in a graveyard can provide a peaceful and comforting place for visitors to come and spend time. Check out this blog by Frazer Consultants for more information on memorial gardens and why you should look more into this as an option for paying tribute to someone close to you that has died.
Also called ‘interactive markers,’ this new and innovative form of memorializing consists of an actual QR code being used on traditional headstones. It seems that this kind of leap into technology-led memorials is only fitting considering how much of it we tend to use in our lives today.
The code allows gravesite visitors the ability to pull up memories and photos of their loved one while they spend time at the final resting place. Some things that could be viewed via this code are photo albums, the obituary, their memorial site, social media pages, and more.
According to Quiring Monuments, who actually provides the service for just under $100, this works by having a code put directly onto the headstone itself so that visitors can use their cell phones to pull up the memorial website, or whatever else might have been linked to the code.
The memorial site can also be accessed via a special link from elsewhere for those who live far away from the gravesite.
Another jewelry that serves the purpose of memorializing a loved one is personalized fingerprint jewelry. This jewelry is made by having your loved one’s fingerprint lasered into a pendant of your choosing.
Choose from lots of great options, like this sterling silver oval thumbprint piece, or a lovely gold ring with their thumbprint engraved all around it. This is quite a creative and touching way to express the impact they had on your life by showing the mark they left on your heart forever.
It would also work great as gifts for others you know who are mourning, too.
Slightly more familiar, but still trending in 2020 is the classic scattering of the cremains. This leaves a lot of space for creativity too though, because you can think as outside the box as your time and budget allows with the location where you’d like to scatter the ashes. If the deceased had a specific place in mind, then that would obviously be the place to go.
If they didn’t specify, you’ll have to brainstorm and reflect back on any conversations you might’ve had with them regarding where they’d want their ashes to be scattered when they died.
You also might consider asking around with family and others who knew them well to see if they have any more information than you. The most important thing is to make the location as symbolic and meaningful to your loved one as you can.
This is a trend in the interest of saving energy and being ‘greener’ toward the environment. According to a , ”Water cremations start by placing the body in a chamber that uses water, potassium hydroxide, and heat to transform the remains into bone ash.”
This allows the family to still have the ashes with which they can do whatever they find most fitting, but it also is less strain on the environment.
Human composting, as mentioned in an above section, consists of putting the body into a receptacle along with other materials like straw and wood chips in order to create a much faster way to turn the remains into soil. It’s a great option for those who want to be brought back to the natural world after their death.
If this is something your loved one valued or expressed interest in, it might just be the perfect way to celebrate their life and say your final goodbyes.
ASHES AS PART OF A TREE SEEDLING
Also called a ‘tree urn,’ this is a green—and definitely trending—way to memorialize those who have passed away. It’s essentially a biodegradable egg, or urn, that can grow a tree with the cremains of your loved one.
The reason it’s become such a popular mode of paying tribute to the dead is that it gives people an opportunity to go back to, and help nourish, the same earth which has sustained them for so long. It feels meaningful and destiny-like because it seems to complete the cycle in a sense. It’s the circle of life, as they say.
An example of a company who does this is The Living Urn, where you’ve got a few different options: you can buy the urn/growing system and the tree, the system by itself, or you can explore more options they have here. What’s more is that many people are having tree planting ceremonies, which could be a lovely way to send off the person you’ve lost.
You can experience the sense of unity you get with a traditional memorial, but in a unique way that is centered in nature.
GREEN BURIAL & A GRAVESIDE SERVICE
A graveside service doesn’t necessarily have to be in an actual grave—or at least not the typical one you might picture. For a ‘green’ burial—usually consisting of the use of a cardboard box being put into the ground and minus the embalming chemicals of traditional burials—you can consider planning to also have a service for your loved one just like the one you’d have with a traditional grave site burial.
You could really have a ‘graveside’ service with any type of eco-friendly burial. For example, a tree seedling burial can be accompanied with a touching ‘tree-planting service’ memorial where the loved ones of the deceased can all help plant the seedling with the remains, finishing with a speech or two, letters read aloud by the family, or any other meaningful gestures.
Another example of a graveside service with a green burial could be an eco water urn or ice urn memorial, accompanied by a beautiful boat service.
ASHES INTO JEWELRY
Another unique and timeless way to memorialize someone is to have their ashes turned into jewelry. There are a few different routes you can go with this.
For example, there are companies which turn cremains into diamonds that will last forever. Another way you can take it is to have the ashes of your loved one turned into jewelry also made with other materials like various pure metals and glass.
This gold ash necklace is a great example of such creations. The Riverbed Gold Ash Jewelry is a beautiful combination of a small amount of cremated ashes mixed with a gemstone like resin to create a totally one of a kind and personal keepsake.
FAMILY LED SERVICES
Services are starting to become more and more dominated by the families of the deceased than has been customary in the past. Taking the lead on the service can give families a stronger sense of individualization with their loved one’s memorial. As customization is becoming more prevalent in many products in services, it’s no surprise that this situation would be no different.
Many families will still use a funeral director, of course, but they will lead the service more often according to Funeral Call. And either option is quite okay.
The thought comes from the fact that people don’t ideally want someone leading the funeral who didn’t even know the person who passed away. “Why have a stranger leading a ceremony for someone so central to our lives – a person who had never met him and would only be told by us what to say? Instead, why not do it ourselves?” explains Harriet Sherwood in her article on The Guardian.
This Inhabitat article talks about a company in Alabama called Holy Smoke that can turn cremains into live ammunition as a more sustainable memorial trend. It costs less than a thousand dollars for this memorial option, and the article explains that this seems to be a “cost effective tribute to your loved one.”
Holy Smoke is mentioned in another article on Death Reference Desk, plus one on the NPR website as well. It seems this idea has become an intriguing one all over the country, so it’s likely one that will spread and become an offered service more commonly in the near future.
GPS MARKERS IN LIEU OF HEADSTONES
Another highly cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly memorial trend is to use a GPS marker for the headstone. This technology allows families to find their deceased loved ones in a more high-tech way than ever before.
According to a , cemeteries such as Arlington and Calverton National Cemeteries are already implementing this technology as a way to benefit these natural cemeteries by only using natural materials versus the traditional headstone. The markers are above the ground and let out a signal that lets a GPS track the location.
Another but equally unique and creative way to memorialize your loved one through jewelry is via personalized photo engraved jewelry. Beautiful keepsakes crafted of stainless steel that are laser engraved with a favorite photo.
View the most popular photo jewelry to peruse and pick your own favorite pieces. There is a large variety of items that can be engraved with someone’s photo, such as necklace pendants, wallet cards, and even money clips, which might work well for a man who otherwise wouldn’t wear actual jewelry.
Go with whichever options suit yours and your family’s needs the most.
MADE INTO A VINYL RECORD
Believe it or not, you can have ashes pressed into a vinyl record. According to an article on Finder, you can get around 30 copies for the cost of $3000.
The song that the record plays can even be customized, making it extra special and meaningful. This would be an amazing send off for anyone who was a musician or just a strong lover of music when they were alive.
BEING SENT INTO SPACE
This might be the most surprising and ‘out there’ options of them all—you can now have some of your loved one’s ashes sent out to space.
You can have them sent to simply float amidst the stars, or even have them sent straight to the moon. This memorial trend just goes to show that being adventurous doesn’t have to stop once someone has died.
The most surprising part of all may be that this costs less than a high-end funeral even would. You can find out more about this stellar memorial trend here.
We realize there are many unique and wonderful ways to honor the lives of our loved ones and that there truly is no right or wrong way. Read on to find ways that you can ask family, friends and others to help plan your memorial.
Memorial Planning: Asking Family & Friends For Help
Planning a memorial for a loved one can become overwhelming if you’re trying to do it by yourself. These events often go smoother when the burden is shared amongst others who were also close to the person that died.
Someone can be host or hostess who welcomes the guests; someone else could be in charge of music or of preparing eulogies. The kinds of people who you should involve are their other family members, close friends, co-workers who knew them well, and church members if they attended a church regularly. You might also ask for help from those who the deceased might have known through any organizations or hobby circles they were a part of.
For example, they might have attended a weekly yoga class, running club, or book club where they made close friends. Try not to be shy when asking for help—you might be surprised how much people would love to help in these situations. Enlist the help of anyone who cared about the person who has died to get some great ideas put together.
Other Resources For Planning A Memorial
You could also consider asking for professional help with planning the memorial. If this sounds like something you might need, there are resources available. Specifically, you can find lots of sites online that can help.
Specifically, you can find lots of sites online that can help. Here are a few ideas for you but be sure to use a search engine to look for more:
- A pastor of the deceased’s church.
- A hired ‘celebrant’ who can lead in memorials, or celebrations of life.
- An event planner who can take care of the tedious planning side, so that you can focus on being present and celebrating the life of your loved one with others who will also be mourning. Enjoying the sense of togetherness will be important for your—and everyone else’s—emotional healing. SevenPONDS, Heart2Soul, and Tiffany’s Compassionate Planning are a few services you can utilize to find out more about how you can get help with planning your loved one’s memorial service.
There is also the option of crowdfunding sites, which would be useful in the case that you need to raise funds to help alleviate the costs piling up for the family of the deceased. Funerals and memorial services can definitely get expensive, and it might give the family some relief to know that there are ways to lighten the burden a little.
Crowdfunding sites serve the purpose of allowing people in need with a worthy cause to be able to ask for and receive financial donations from those wanting to help out. See a few options for crowdfunding sites below.
Memorializing Loved Ones Your Way
It’s never easy saying goodbye to the ones we love, but paying tribute to them can be healing and meaningful. It can help give those who are grieving the closure and comfort they need. Memorialization is the best way to pay tribute to a loved one when they have died, and there are a multitude of both new and unique ways of doing so.
We hope these trends for memorializing 2020 have given you plenty of ideas for the memorial you’d like to create for the one you’ve lost. Let it be a form of pure expression, and put all the energy into it that you can; let it reflect the way they positively impacted those around them throughout their lifetime.
November 13, 2020 by Jeri K. Augustus