In my last blog, I talked about how in Western culture, there are few models for grieving as there are in other places in the world. We have our funerals, such as my family did recently for my mother, but then the ones who are left behind are stuck with finding their own ways of dealing with the loss. Public monuments and memorials, both large and small, have been around for centuries, but a recent trend that I’ve noticed is of creating a descanso, or monument for someone who died in a nearby.
There is a long tradition of creating a roadside memorial here in the States, as often someone who was killed in an accident was buried nearby out of necessity. Flowers, both real and plastic, were often attached to a cross, and if a child was involved, then toys or stuffed animals might be added. Here in Maryland, in the USA, the road crews would often take the markers down as they mowed the banks on the sides of the roads, but there seems to be some unwritten rule now that if you put your memorial behind the road barrier, the road crews will leave the markers alone. Sometimes, they come with the person’s name on them; sometimes not. Some ones nearby to where I live, I’ve noticed, have been maintained for a few years, with changes added, and plastic flowers refreshed, and then are left to the elements to return them to the environment over time, as I imagine that the person(s) that created it comes more to terms with the death of the loved one.
The photo above I imagine is dedicated to someone who was at least patriotic, as it has the colors of the United States, but the accident that took the life might also have happened on the 4th of July, when those colors are widely used. I Photoshopped out the name of the person that was on the cross to protect their identity, but I did notice that this descanso is erected on a small hill near the entrance to a high school, perhaps to remind the students to drive responsibly.
For myself, to honor my own mother’s recent death, I’m adding on to a section of one of my gardens. She loved roses, so I bought a new one and will add some other plants to try and have visual interest in all three growing seasons here in my area. There is a small marker that was in her own garden that will be added to this one, so that when I walk outside and see the beauty, I’ll be reminded of her love.
How have you honored the death of a loved one? Do you have a memorial of some sort, or do you have a remembrance ceremony every year to celebrate their love and their life?
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