How Much It Costs To Memorialize A Loved One

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Memorial Bricks Gold Star Families (Credit Antwon McMullen / Shutterstock.com)

Whether you want to spend a little or a lot, you have options for keeping someone’s name alive long after they’re gone.

While everyone certainly has their own private way of remembering a loved one who has passed, there may be instances where you feel a memory just isn’t enough. Maybe your loved one was very involved in a community or public office, and you want to do more to honor their memory in the form of a public memorial.

But with that comes big questions: What form does the memorial take? How do you organize one? How much does it cost? Here are some ways to get started: 

TIER 1: Simple

Creating a Facebook memorial page is free, and can even be set-up beforehand as part of one’s overall estate planning. Facebook allows users to set what they call a “Legacy Contact,” someone who can manager part of your account in the event of your death. Your legacy contact could write a post announcing details of a memorial service, update your profile picture and cover photo, respond to new friend requests, or download an archive of your profile posts and photos. Your profile page could also be retitled with the word "Remembering" above your name. However, the legacy contact will not be able to actually log in as you, change your account settings, or see your private messages. Of course, you can also tell Facebook to simply delete your account upon your death as well.

There is also a site called Smilebox that offers templates (mostly free, although they do charge for some premium options) that allow you to create memorial slideshows that are easily postable and shareable.

TIER 2: Localized

If your loved one had a favorite park, walking spot, or was active in a church or other religious organization, you have some options for more public memorials. Oftentimes, churches will build memorial walkways and allow for people to purchase engraved bricks. These can usually run around anywhere from $100 to $150, depending on the church. Dedicated pews are usually at the discretion of the church organizers, and are usually handed out based on how active the person was with the church, or if they, say, left large amounts of money to the church as part of their will.

As for benches, New York’s Central Park has an “Adopt-a-Bench” program that will memorialize one of its 9,000+ park benches, but it requires a sizeable endowment of $10,000. If you’re looking more locally, the best thing to do is to contact the community center in the town where the desired park is located and inquire about bench availability and pricing.

TIER 3: Grand

What if money is no object and you want something very, very big? Like getting a street named after you in your city kind of big? Well, you can always apply and see. New York City accepts applications for street naming twice yearly (in October and April) and has very specific guidelines about candidates:

“Prospective honorees should have a minimum of 10 years community involvement and should have demonstrated an extraordinary and consistent voluntary commitment and dedication to the community, or who have contributed significantly to New York City or national life and have lived or otherwise are identified with this community in a substantial way. Individual prospective honorees must be deceased, for at least two years prior to consideration.”

Like park benches, street names or even memorial statues are at the discretion of local governments. You can petition your town or your loved one’s town and see if they bite, but it’s likely only in extreme cases that your petition would be granted. And although none of them advertise a fee associated with such an action, it’s safe to assume a generous donation to the town would be made in conjunction with the memorial.

Getting a room or an entire wing of a hospital named after someone varies enormously - some institutions, like the Children’s Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, offer memorialized rooms starting at $35,000. Going beyond that takes you into the multiple millions, like in the case of former Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman P.K. Subban who had a wing of a Montreal hospital named in his honor after donating $10 million.

Have Any Memorial Suggestions?

If you know of a thoughtful way to memorialize a loved one, tell us about it here.

[Photo Credit: Antwon McMullen / Shutterstock.com]

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