Memorials spring up seemingly within minutes of deaths these days. Stuffed animals, candles, notes, pictures, crosses, all manner of things and memorabilia seem to sprout up at the places of death everywhere. Why?
I used to think that this was something unique to our country, but googling a few years ago disabused me of that thought. These types of memorials occur worldwide. They happen in South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa, everywhere. They are also mentioned throughout history and have been written about for as long as writing has existed, although there appears to be an increasing number of these remembrances. Why?
Are they an attempt to signify (in the old sense) or consecrate a place where death has occurred. Death the ultimate violation of life, our most precious possession? Are they an attempt to say we will always remember the deceased, that we will not forget? However, many who place mementos never knew the deceased. Why do so many participate in this activity? Has it become a growing rite of passage in our society, in our world? We have so few anymore, is this one of ours? Do we have a need to express our spirituality in these memorials? Are they simply public/social expressions of grief or are they more? I am becoming more and more convinced that they are the latter.
They are more then an sharing of grief. They scream that I am still here, notice me. I am still alive. They are also a warning that death can happen. Let’s hope that they also say that something can be done to prevent, or at least forestall, other deaths. I hope that they are more than just show.
Nonetheless, next time you see a death scene memorial ponder its significance, think about its meaning. Say a prayer for the deceased and say a prayer for the living. May the memorials serve a purpose beyond commemoration. We must pull together as a community to work to prevent the preventable deaths, to forestall those not so preventable, to accept and celebrate those that are neither preventable nor able to be forestalled. Death will come for all of us someday, you can not get out of here alive.