A memorial serves two distinct purposes. First, its design, selection, and erection helps surviving family members through the difficult transition period in which the loss of a loved one is accepted. The second function of a monument is to provide family members with a tangible link between the past, the present, and the future. Memorials are a bedrock foundation of our heritage and culture and are a visible reminder of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. Cemeteries provide ideal places for living people to go to and reflect upon their family member's memorial and place in history.
Motivational researchers tell us that people buy to satisfy one of the following needs. Buying a memorial, headstone, or monument is no different:
1. Need for security: Security includes things beyond personal safety and freedom from want. It also includes things like security from criticism by your peers. This is one reason individuals choose to spend beyond their means on a gravestone (to impress other family members or friends). Do not feel pressured to spend beyond your limits. Only spend what you are able to afford.
2. Sense of worth. This is why people are motivated by spending $50,000 on a car for themselves. Looking at and driving the car reassures them of their worth. Just remember, while it is important to acknowledge the wishes of your loved one who has passed away, be careful of spending beyond your budget.
3. Love. Without the love of someone for something or someone there would not be much personal memorialization. The stronger the love, the stronger the motivation. Because of this, headstones often times have symbols of love (hearts, flowers, angels, and more).
4. Creativity. Many individuals have an interest to do something unique and design something eternal. With advancing technology, people can now have stones customized to their exact desire. Laser engravers can also put photos onto headstones, and design in color.
5. Power. Many people want to control the creation of a memorial and what it says about their family member. Luckily, many monument makers recognize this desire and allow individuals to create their own stone with the monument maker's design help.
6. Roots. The refers to the sense of belonging. Many people choose to be buried in a faith based cemetery. Others prefer to have a monument for them placed in their favorite place on earth to visit; maybe the beach or the mountains.
7. Immortality. Monuments offer a opportunity to satisfy the urge of immortality many people feel at some point in their lives. It allows people to "be remembered in the history books" to future generations.
Whether it be for family members to convene around or to reserve their place in the history books, the idea of marking ones gravesite with a memorial is overwhelming encouraged by society. Just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and are not going beyond your budget. This is a unique and tough experience. It should be taken slowly, with careful thought.