Perhaps Cicero, the Roman orator, said it best: "The life of the dead consists in being present in the minds of the living."
This is why we memorialize our loved ones, the famous statesman, those who bravely fought in World War II and all the deceased who have touched the lives of ourselves and our forebears.
As long as we remember them, our loved ones live on in our minds and hearts.
In 2000, the National Funeral Directors Association completed the Celebration of Freedom campaign to build a magnificent memorial in Washington, DC to remember all those who served and died in World War II.
Building such a memorial and others like it is an integral part of human nature.
As early as 35,000 B.C., prehistoric humans practiced ritual funerals. Practically every culture since that era has engaged in some form of memorialization.
Even though today's lifestyles are changing and less attention is paid to formal religious rituals, funeral services and memorialization continue in new and interesting ways.
The memory table where favorite mementos and photos of the deceased are exhibited has become commonplace and now a family history video may also be shown.
The custom of sending flowers to honor a memory has evolved to contributing to a favorite charity or local community social service to benefit the living.
Some funeral homes in New York State arrange to have a tree planted for each funeral service they perform as a way of providing a living memorial honoring the deceased and to renew the forest life of New York.
Another custom that provides solace while enhancing the environment is to give a packet of wildflower seeds to each participant in the funeral service.
Communication features provided by the Internet have made even more dramatic changes in the ways we memorialize loved ones.
Funerals are broadcast on the Internet to accommodate shut-ins or relatives who can't attend services. Even though they do not attend the funeral service in person, they are still a part of the memorialization process.
When the time comes to arrange a funeral for a loved one or if you are preplanning your funeral, be sure to ask your funeral director about the options available or thoughts you may have to personalize the services.
By honoring the deceased with a formal funeral service and an appropriate memorial, we help to calm our grief and reach for peace.
Visit the website of your local NYSFDA Funeral Home where you can learn more about the importance of memorialization.