Where can we memorialize our dad OUTSIDE a cemetery?
August 15, 2012 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Park benches, Disneyland bricks, memorial reefs... what are some other ways to memorialize someone outside of a cemetery?

My dad passed away almost a year ago. He was cremated and his wish was to have his ashes scattered. However, I suggested to my family that it would be nice to have a place we could visit, and something with his name on it so that there is a more-or-less permanent indication that this person lived and was here.

This has unfortunately escalated into a situation in which the family is now contemplating placing the ashes in a local cemetery, which will cost somewhere in the range of $8000.00 and would not be what Dad wanted. (He would also flip at the cost.) My mom is justifying it under the theory that it's large enough for the whole family (!) but I don't want that for myself and at least one of my sisters feels very strongly the same way.

I would love suggestions on a different way to memorialize my dad here in Los Angeles. I've found that you can buy, for instance, permanent stones at Disneyland, and so forth. I don't think that's right for him, but something like that where his name could live on and be seen outside of a cemetery and that could be visited by his family.

Thanks! Any suggestions will be appreciated.
posted by OolooKitty to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tree dedication at the arboretum?
posted by Marit at 1:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it would be helpful to know what kind of man your father was. Whatever you pick should reflect who he was.
posted by inturnaround at 1:24 PM on August 15, 2012

I was at the symphony recently and discovered that a lot of the seats have been "adopted" to commemorate people. What I especially love about this is that the plaques are on the backs of the seats, so the person behind can read them. Which is a lot more likely to be noticed, read, and contemplated than a plaque on a bench or a brick at a theme park.

You could also presumably always buy the same seat at that particular concert hall, and so theoretically "go to the symphony with your dad" anytime you wanted to.
posted by Sara C. at 1:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did he have a favorite place like a local park, library, or beach? Places like that often install benches or other items with a memorial plaque in exchange for a donation.
posted by platinum at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2012

It is pretty common for charitable organizations to provide memorial plaques or bricks like the Disneyland variety. For example, when our local YWCA put up a new homeless shelter for women, they offered donors the ability to get a memorial placque up on the wall in exchange for a donation (of a lot less than $8K!).

Don't know if he was religious . . . one nice thing we did when my mom died was a memorial plaque in my sister's synagogue.

LA also has a program for donating and having a dedicated park bench.

This outfit
in LA does tree dedications, too.
posted by bearwife at 1:39 PM on August 15, 2012

My alma mater has sponsored trees, each with an engraved paver set into the path in front of it.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2012

As you have these discussions, you might also want to talk to your mother about she wants for herself. I'm wondering if the cemetery plot is about her not wanting to buried alone? Maybe not, but understanding what she is feeling like she needs out of this, in terms of both your father's ashes and her own future desires will make easier to find an option that will make her feel comfortable too.
posted by metahawk at 1:59 PM on August 15, 2012

*If he was religious: a donation towards new Bibles/Talmuds/Korans/hymnals for his church/temple/etc., and often will include bookplates: "donated in memory of the late John Smith".
*Again, if he was religious: a donation to his church/etc. library or their preschool for new books or playground equipment.
*A donation to the local battered women's or homeless shelter in his name. (Two years ago, I gave my entire family a "Christmas present" of a new industrial garbage disposal at a local soup kitchen: fortunately they have a good sense of humor, and all laughed when I told them using it reminds me of them!)
*Donate animals to help a family in need from Heifer International (www.heifer.org/gift).

His desire to be cremated and his ashes scattered says to me that he did not want a gravesite: some particular place that could be visited to evoke memories of him, and something that as you say would cost a bundle; perhaps you could gently convince them that such a gravesite would be against his express wish to have his ashes scattered.
posted by easily confused at 2:00 PM on August 15, 2012

Back when I lived there (the town, not the zoo, thanks), the little zoo in Manhattan Kansas had a really wonderful atmosphere in part because almost everything, from benches to groves of bamboo for feeding the red pandas, had little plaques indicating who donated it.

Find something local he liked. Ask what the options are. Most places won't have a price list of how much it costs to do a memorial bench or brick or whatever, but lots of not-for-profit endeavors would be happy to work something out.

You could also do a memorial scholarship. It could be a relatively small amount of money to help cover, say, books specifically instead of tuition.
posted by Michele in California at 2:02 PM on August 15, 2012

My city has an art center and there is a sculpture garden where people have planted trees or donated art. There is also a botanical garden where trees, plants, and walkways have been donated in somebody's name.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:23 PM on August 15, 2012

Tree dedication at the arboretum?

When my father died, my co-workers went together and had a tree planted in his honor at a local park. It's a lovely thing to do.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:39 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

His high school or college might have a memorial brick or plaque or something available.

A humane society I know of has memorial bricks in its entryway.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:19 PM on August 15, 2012

A lot of nonprofits do the brick thing as a fundraiser. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has this, and my fiance got one for his grandfather (who fought in the war). Is there a similar charity that you could choose?
posted by radioamy at 4:13 PM on August 15, 2012

A friend of mine used her father's ashes to fertilize her vegetable garden and just ate the first produce from it.
posted by brujita at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2012

Wow. These are all great suggestions. I am going to run these by my family tomorrow and we'll see what everybody thinks. Thank you so much, everybody!!!
posted by OolooKitty at 7:54 AM on August 16, 2012

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