Redefining Displays of Grief and Remembrance in Today’s Times

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

DECORATIVE POLICIES: Cemeteries have incredibly varied policies from requiring flat headstones and no decorations remaining after holidays to allowing elaborate mausoleums or “above-ground” decoration policies, and perennial plantings or “in-ground” decoration policies.

Leave no footprint. It’s the hiker’s creed, and a bit of a recycler’s creed, I suppose. What’s hard about a recycling lifestyle is realizing how little our culture is set up to make it simple, and sometimes how simple it could be to do so.

We just paid tribute to our men and women who died while serving in our armed forces. What I found around me that I could purchase for a literal pay in respecting my fallen loved ones, I found plastic flowers and plastic flags that would never compost yet be required to be removed within the next few days. That means, I would be literally throwing my hard earned money in the trash. The thought of this attempt to profit from my grief and respect was like adding insult to injury.

So, while difficult to discuss, here are some discussion starters on the topic of: How to pay respect to our loved ones that truly reflects the respect we intend through respect of our time and money.

Take It With You
Take a framed photo of your loved one with you to their grave site, and take a series of photos. Bring family and tell stories, record stories with your smart phone or even an old-time video recorder, whatever you have on-hand.

Group Decisions
Connect with others who have loved ones buried in the same cemetery, and hire a professional photography and/or videography team during the Memorial holidays, and your professional can create a memory montage everyone can share. Talk with your cemetery manager if you aren’t sure where to get started. Many cemeteries now have social media sites and web pages.

New-Time Tradition
Speaking of social media, I appreciate the outlet Facebook provides for ongoing tributes, memorials, memories and media shared between those connected through this person we all loved. We can plan reunions, and know that on that birthday or Memorial Day, a whole bunch of us huddle together to light a digital candle in his or her honor.

Old Time Tradition
Make a rubbing of your loved one’s grave stone and frame it or just keep it in their memory book. Take butcher paper and charcoal or pencil, and rub the grave stone’s markings onto the paper. You can spray the rubbing with hair spray for added protection of the rubbing.

So, what got this all started was our recent Memorial Day. Held the last Monday of May each year it’s the day that, before we launch into our summer plans, we pay homage to our men and women who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces, giving us a deeper gratitude for those sunny summer days that lie ahead.

Driving by those rows of fluttering American flags, then seeing the swarms of people taking days to painstakingly stake each one of them, then take each one down five days later and properly stored. Whether a scout troop or many individual volunteers, it takes a community to pay such respect with precision, organization and sustainability.

Thoughtful Discussion
I’d love to hear what you have found as a thoughtful outlet to honor those no longer with us. Send in your thoughts to, or let’s get the conversation started @TrashTalkTulsa.

Whatever you find for your own traditions, I hope it brings you peace and a sense of gratitude for the little gifts found in the every day.

Updated 06-17-2017

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