The Importance of Memorialization: A View From Both Sides – by Wendy Strunk

In beautiful Southern Ohio’s Glenroy cemetery, at the foot of the hill, lies one of my favorite persons of all time. My “papa” Ross. He was a Navy veteran, a police officer and the heart of my family.

Although he died unexpectedly at 48, when I was just 4 years old, his death left a huge hole in my life and the lives of my family. Visiting the cemetery and decorating his memorial with my mom and my grandmother became a frequent tradition. I cannot count how many road trips and holidays we spent during my childhood visiting his gravesite, planting flowers, cleaning, and making sure he had his Veteran’s flag.

I think that was all part of the healing process for my family and I am thankful that we had a memorial to visit. It gave us something to do with our time as we grieved and honored him in the process. I can go visit anytime, but even when I cannot, just knowing it’s there, is a comfort. As I have gotten older, our trips have been less often but every now and then we take that scenic drive, especially in the fall. The landscape changes, but the granite stone is the same. A friend of mine said that designing a memorial is the last thing we will do for our loved one, a final act of love.

Working at a memorial company now, I see first-hand how much it means to other families to be able to honor their loved one in a personal way, by creating a tangible legacy that will be there for future generations. My grandpa may not have cared whether there was a memorial marking his grave, but I know he would have wanted whatever helped us get through that season of grief, having to move on without him. I think of him often, in that peaceful place in the hillside near Jackson, Ohio.

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