In classic movie scenes, main characters are often seen visiting graveyards to commune with someone they’ve lost – usually a husband, wife, parent or child. They might be vowing revenge, expressing sorrow or filling their loved one in on how things are going with the family. Usually, the character is standing by the grave or sitting on the ground.
Now imagine that same person, but this time they’re sitting on a bench – not just any bench, but a memorial bench placed on top of the grave itself. If films keep up with current trends in memorial markers, that’s exactly what you’ll soon be seeing. “In the last 12 to 15 years there has been a shift away from the standard upright headstones to commemorative benches,” says Lasting Touch Memorials owner Tony Ward. “They’re becoming more and more popular.”
Lasting Touch offers a variety of choices with different colors of granite and designs. Clients can create their own custom inscriptions based on their loved one’s interests. “They’re not just cookie cutter benches. New designs have come out – there are half-moons and straight benches. They can be any color whatsoever and we have different lengths,” says Ward.
Given the outdoor nature of the benches, he recommends choosing one that is polished on all five sides. “The birds and the trees are not very forgiving and granite absorbs a lot,” he says. “With a polished surface, anything that falls on top will wipe right off with a little bit of Windex and a soft scrubbing brush.”
The most important information is about the person being remembered, says Ward. “If you walk up to a headstone, the first thing you want to see is who’s buried there and then the dates. Then, your eyes should go to what else is inscribed – the person’s passions or who else is buried there. It’s the same thing with a bench.” In cemetery sections designated for cremations, benches sometimes have hollow legs that act as containers for the person’s ashes.
Memorial benches function in lieu of headstones and offer other benefits beyond remembrance. The first is strictly practical. “Especially with older people, they visit the cemetery and want to sit there and contemplate but they have nowhere to sit,” says Ward. The bench offers a welcoming spot to rest and reflect.
A second advantage is the amount of surface area benches offer for sharing information. “You can write a lot of inscriptions on them, including names and dates but also include artwork,” says Ward. In one recent case, a woman had lost her husband at a young age. She chose a memorial bench and covered every section, including the top, the sides, and the back, with artwork representing their lives together. “She had pets and he drove tractors,” says Ward. “She filled up all five sides with custom artwork which is very distinctive and unusual. It was beautiful and she was ecstatic.”
For more information about Lasting Touch Memorials, visit www.lastingtouchmemorials.com or call (360)458-9070.