“Impromptu memorials, which have been around for many generations in this country, are increasing. Publicized terrorists' attacks, natural disasters, crimes, and accidents have united large numbers of people around common bonds of grief. These memorials often begin with a tragedy involving one or more deaths. For example, a child might be murdered or killed in a car accident. Within a short period of time, toys, such as stuffed animals, along with flowers, balloons, posters, cards, photographs, and other memorial displays begin to accumulate at the site where the crime or accident took place.
At some point, community members might come together at that same location or elsewhere for a candlelight vigil of prayers for the deceased as well as prayers for community healing and improvement. The shrines and altars resulting from impromptu memorials touch many people in a personal manner and serve as powerful reminders of the deceased and the cause represented.”
© Frances Shani Parker
“Ghost bikes” are more recent examples of community memorials that are believed to have started in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. A ghost bike, usually a junk bike painted white and secured near the scene of a tragedy, is the memorial project of a worldwide movement for commemorating deceased or injured bikers struck down by motor vehicles. Appealing to both personal loss and moral sensibilities, ghost bike memorials are being displayed in a growing number of cities. A ghost bike is yet another example of a memorial personalized by loved ones and community members as they unfasten earthly connections with the deceased.
This video shows a" ghost bike memorial for Alice Swanson,” a bicyclist killed on July 8, 2008 in Washington, DC.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”