Choosing a permanent tribute
The process of planning a funeral inevitably involves the choice of a permanent memorial. The funeral itself is an important event that will help the bereaved deal with the loss of a loved one; but the creation of a memorial - which can be done in a number of different ways - offers a space to commemorate the deceased, and gives loved ones a place to visit as they work through their grief.
When someone has passed on, we want to memorialize them appropriately. The selection of a memorial may have been previously dictated by the deceased, or it may be left up to loved ones. For those who pre-plan a funeral, there is opportunity to choose a memorial that best suits the way they want to be remembered. Regardless of who chooses the memorial, it is generally an incredibly personal tribute.
Choosing a memorial is often one of the funeral planning decisions that a family may be able to make together (most others having been already made by the deceased or the funeral home). Memorials can be completely custom or traditional. Since memorials are more for the living than for the dead, it's important to consider the family and friends who'll be left behind to mourn, before making a decision.
Memorials are most often simply gravestones or tombstones. (People use these terms interchangeably, and they may also be referred to as grave markers.) Gravestones are put in the cemetery and mark the place where the deceased is buried or interred. They may also be put at a mausoleum.
Since they're meant to remain outside, tombstones need to be made of durable material - generally they are made from granite. A tombstone allows the bereaved a visible reminder of the deceased, which can be shaped or engraved to be a more personal tribute.
Monuments are generally thought to be larger and more expensive memorials than tombstones, but they may also be housed in the cemetery to act as a grave marker. However, they may also be put in a place more meaningful to the deceased and offer loved ones a space to gather and remember.
As personalized funerals become more popular, the funeral industry has started to consider unique ways of commemorating the life of the deceased and the people left behind. There are a growing number of ways of memorializing those who have passed with unique and non-traditional memorials.