New York State Funeral Directors Association

They’re on the back of cars, bolted to rocks and affixed to benches – but I never used to notice.

It wasn’t until I started looking for them that I realized memories people share of loved ones they’ve lost are everywhere.

I’ve been collecting photographs of people’s memorials and posting them on this blog’s Facebook page for a while now.

The album is dedicated "to those for whom memorials are found in random places.”

Like the grief people carry around with them to the store, to the park or off to bed, Memorials can be found anywhere.

In terms of a side project, it’s more difficult that I thought it would be when I started.A Random Memorial for David Mezzio, James Minicki & Mark Phillips - victims of the April 5, 1987 NYS Thruway bridge collapse. At the Tribes Hill Boat Launch and Park, Montgomery County, NY.

The Random Memorials that are easiest to find are the ones people place on the back of their cars.

They’re the most-difficult to capture, too, because I’m driving my car when I see them.

Sometimes I’ll get lucky and see one on the back of a car parked at a mall or other store, then I can take a picture.

It’s turned into a scavenger hunt for me now, but I think it’s worthwhile. Sometimes, these Random Memorials can suddenly disappear.

That happened with one that was placed on, and around, a tree in a local park I frequent.

It was obviously an “unsanctioned” memorial and it lasted for more than a year.

Then, one day, it was gone – similar to those flowers and other adornments people place on graves in cemeteries.

If you don’t get the cemetery’s newsletter, you’ll show up one day and find those items are just gone.

People place these Random Memorials in random places because they want to share their love and grief for the person they’ve lost in a public manner.

Capturing images of them and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter, I believe, further extends that field of “public” and it gives more people the ability to share in that grief and love.

I put a note on the album inviting folks to share a picture of a Random Memorial if they see one, but I haven’t had any luck with submissions yet.

And that’s ok, because I keep looking.

Sometimes, like in the case of park benches, people spend some hard-earned money to express their loved for that lost relative or friend.RIP Melissa

I think it’s simply right to stop, take a look and recognize that person and the fact that they meant so much to the lives of others.

Some Random Memorials can provide a new perspective if you find them in a place you frequent, too.

That was the case with one that I found bolted to a boulder alongside a vacant piece of land.

After a little research, I learned that busy strip mall filled with eateries, a pharmacy, a grocery store and other outlets used to be a big parcel of land owned by the guy on the memorial.

Random Memorial for Jerry Navilia, a longtime bicycle shop owner. May he Rest in PeaceAnd it’s clear to me he made a lot of people – children most often – happy. He ran a well-known bicycle shop.

I saw one for months before I noticed it – it was affixed to the brick above an organization’s fireplace in a room I’d been in dozens of times.

And I drove by one for several days until I realized it was another Random Memorial – dedicated to a loved one and written on a local fire department’s sign that changes every so often.

I did think the project would create a small bit of activity on the Facebook page and lead to some pictures getting sent in, but the fact that it hasn’t doesn’t get me down.

That’s because I’m starting to enjoy the practice.

Like many things that go through my head working for an association of funeral directors, searching for Random Memorials is a reminder of my own mortality.

I think saying a quick “Rest in Peace” every time I see one, imagining what that person was like and sharing an image of the memorial adds one more bit of honor to that person we’ve all lost.

Take a look at the album – or the photos in this blog post – and you’ll see the various places to look for Random Memorials.

Snap a photo and send one in and I’ll add it to the album.

CLICK HERE to take a look at the album of Random Memorials.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association