Memorials offer participants the opportunity to share their grief and memories after the loss of a loved one. While memorial services are often associated with a church or funeral home, memorials may take place in almost any setting. There are no structured rules to holding a memorial event. It may be as simple as two people gathering in a special location to honor a loved one, or as grand as a community celebration to honor fallen military veterans.
The Internet has created a new forum to celebrate a loved one's life. Remembrance websites provide a virtual memorial for loved ones. Visitors can read and contribute to the loved one's biography, post photos, offer prayers and share memories with friends and family around the world. Mourners are able to pay their respects at any hour of the day, regardless of their location. These sites not only offer solace immediately after the loss, they provide a means of remembering a loved one on special days, such as holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.
Sadly, violence touches many lives. Losing a loved one to an act violence can be especially difficult. Along with grief, survivors often experience extreme feelings of anger, guilt and isolation. Many communities and victim support organizations recognize this and sponsor annual memorial events in honor of the victims of violence. A memorial walk not only offers the survivor the opportunity to honor and remember his loved one, it provides the reassurance that he is not suffering alone. Planners place signs bearing victim names along the walking path, giving the participants the opportunity to pause and share a few words or memories about the person victim to the crime. Organizers may request donations for local domestic abuse shelters or other suitable charities.
A Celebration of Life
While the thought may seem macabre to some, many people are embracing the practice of holding memorial services prior to death. A "Celebration of Life" offers individuals diagnosed with a terminal or debilitating disease, such as cancer or Alzheimer's, the opportunity to share memories with friends and family before the disease progresses. The event is beneficial in many ways. It offers participants the opportunity to share their feelings and memories in a positive forum, while psychologically preparing them for the impending loss of a loved one. The celebrant has the rare opportunity to share memories and thoughts traditionally voiced after death. While the celebration's theme seems depressing, promote the event as a positive affirmation of the subject's life.
Cultures have embraced various funeral traditions as a means to honor their deceased for centuries. Many pet owners suffer their loss in silence, fearing their grief will be minimized because it was only an animal. However, society is recognizing the importance of pets in the family circle. The loss of a pet can be as devastating as the loss of a human family member. Many communities have pet cemeteries, and pet funeral homes are becoming more common. A pet memorial may as simple as a family gathering in their backyard to pay their last respects to a beloved pet, or a structured event sponsored by an animal shelter. Community events may be a vehicle to introduce prospective pet parents to animals available for adoption.
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