A Reflection on Roadside Memorials

I was seventeen when my grandfather died. As we drove in the limousines to Arlington Cemetery in New York, I looked out the window and saw children playing and people going on with their lives. I remember thinking, “Don’t they understand my grandfather died? This needs to be acknowledged.” We were so close and my grief was so profound that I felt everyone should be feeling the same way.

So I somewhat understand how roadside memorials for victims of road trauma are becoming more popular around the world. Still, many people are asking, “Why?” There seems to be more to these memorials than what people perceive. Could it be that the site of where the accident took place or where life ceased to exist takes on a whole new meaning of spiritual sanctuary? If so, then perhaps our spiritual leaders need to do a better job of explaining life, death, and the proper method of honoring those who have passed. Placing memorials on street corners, medians, or highways and byways cannot be a healthy way to reflect on our relationship with the dead.

I haven’t gotten to visit my grandfather’s grave nearly as much as I’d like, but I’m not sure this matters so much. To me, the greatest gift of remembering those I have lost is to think of them in my heart, my mind, my soul. I can visit them in memories any time I choose.