For thousands of years, memorials have served as status symbols and expressions of grief. From the pyramids in Egypt, to the mausoleums in Paris, to the elaborate headstones in Victorian England – our culture has long found importance in having a place to memorialize its lost loved ones. But in recent years, driven by a change in consumer culture and environmental concerns, people are choosing alternative ways to honor their friends and family. The emphasis is shifting to more modern and individual styles of memorials and celebrations.

Green Burials

Green burials have become an increasingly popular way to reconnect with the earth and be respectful towards the environment. Also known as a natural burial, a green burial is when a person is interred in a manner that their body can naturally decompose in the soil. For those who are environmentally conscious, this form of burial can be a way to atone for their carbon use in life. The site of the burial, and the overall green space, can also serve as a way to teach future generations about the cycle of life and the importance of protecting the environment while also memorializing lost loved ones. There is actually a green burial location in Georgia, called Honey Creek Woodlands. It is located in Conyers, Georgia on 2,300 acres of land owned by the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

Decorative Urns

A decorative urn is an individualistic way of celebrating someone’s life. It’s an artistic response to the natural cycles of life and death. For people looking to break away from the commercial side of funerals and memorials, many are turning to ceramic artists to create something that is unique and celebrates the interests of their loved ones. The urns offer an almost limitless range of options, with different materials, colors, and shapes available. Some choose to bury the jars as part of the memorial ritual, or they can display the urns in a special place. A person can even commission their own urn, so as to address their future memorial in their own, individual way.

Redesigned Cemeteries

In Europe, Asia, and other Eastern countries, there are new movements to redesign metropolitan cemeteries from a place of gray stones and grief to a space that encourages visits and contemplation. In cities like Sydney, Australia and Oslo, Norway, architects are working on greenspaces for natural burials, with a focus on reforestation. The sites would feature GPS and augmented reality, so that visitors could use their smartphones to locate their loved ones and view a virtual memorial. The technology could also include video or audio files associated with their friends and family.

In England, architects are creating modern versions of burial mounds – monuments common in prehistoric and ancient Roman times. These large earthworks, also known as barrows, are vaulted structures in which people can inter the ashes of their loved ones. They also include chapel-like spaces for memorial services, religious rituals, and other small events. The niches that hold the remains can be personalized by local artists. Currently, there are a few barrows in the English countryside, with more planned for across the country.

Creating a Community

When you think of a traditional funeral home, you might envision darkened rooms, antique décor, and an overwhelming sense of quiet. But modern funeral directors are working to transform their space into a place of support, rather than a place strictly for grief. They are redesigning their offices so that people are more comfortable and at peace. Yes, funerals are a time of sadness and grief. But they are also an opportunity to celebrate the people we love and the important moments of life. Some directors have even started to open up their offices to hold weekly support meetings, so that people who are going through the grief process can meet and support each other.

How Brian M. Douglas & Associates Can Help

Over the past year, the health crisis has changed many people’s perspectives on the process of grief and memorialization. The forced distance between friends and family has created a stronger pull to be involved in the memorial process. During these times, it helps to have a trusted team of attorneys that you can turn to for questions about estate planning and probate. If there is anything Brian M. Douglas & Associates can do to help, please do not hesitate to reach out. You can call (770) 933-9009 or contact us here.