It’s one thing to pick out a memorial stone for someone you love once they’re gone, but imagine choosing one for yourself – while you’re still here. What would you put on it? What symbols would capture the times and events that held the most meaning for you?
Those are the questions approximately fifteen percent of Tony Ward’s clients find themselves asking. Ward designs memorial markers at Lasting Touch Memorials in Olympia, and some customers prefer to handle matters in advance, for a variety of reasons. Making decisions before they’re necessary can provide benefits for everyone in the family, he says.
“One of the biggest things people tell me is, ‘I don’t want to leave any responsibility for my kids when the time comes,’ says Ward. “I also hear, ‘I don’t think the kids will get a marker that will represent me. It will represent who they think I am.’” Some are concerned that their children won’t get a marker at all, simply pocketing the money, he says.
In such cases, designing it themselves guarantees that clients’ wishes will be respected and offers an opportunity to have a marker that accurately represents who they are.
The next stage involves listening; Ward asks questions about clients’ passions, their work, and their families – what they value most. “I ask them, ‘What’s your passion?’ Someone may tell me they love woodworking. I’ll find a symbol to represent that,” he says.
Adult children may not realize the impact of times in their parents’ lives that occurred before they were born. “Maybe mom was in a sorority and that meant a lot to her, but that was 45 years ago when she was in college,” says Ward. “The kids may have heard about it, but they would never have thought to put that symbol on the memorial.”
Choosing ahead of time can also prevent conflict among family members after someone is gone. “One of the biggest problems I have is when you get six siblings walking in with a couple of grandchildren,” says Ward. “One of them will say, ‘Mom liked this, but dad liked that.’ Another will counter with, ‘No, he didn’t like that. That wasn’t dad.’ It goes back and forth and it can be a very long process. The arguments can even go down to font size.”
When that happens, he works to establish one point of contact who is responsible for creating consensus among the group and reporting back about what they decide.
A better scenario is when parents or grandparents make the preliminary decisions themselves and then bring their family in to view the sketch. “I’ll show the kids and they’ll say, ‘That’s great. You’re right, mom. This is a great idea and I wouldn’t have thought of it,’” says Ward.
Some single people also opt to design memorial markers. “Maybe they’re divorced or their loved one passes away and they just want to get it done. They want to leave a legacy that shows the world, ‘I was here on this earth,’” he says.
For more information about Lasting Touch Memorials, visit www.lastingtouchmemorials.com or call 360-458-9070.