Strathewen Community Renewal Assoc Inc

The Significance of Remembrance and Memorials

Making sense of disaster requires coming to terms with what loss means in our new ‘normal'. Much of this ‘sense making' will be about how people place their memories of what has been lost into a context where the memories are no longer as painful, and may ultimately be of some comfort.  This is remembrance.

Remembrance occurs at the individual and family level, simple symbolic rituals that link to what we have lost; physical memorials; anniversaries of birthdays, weddings, or passing; visits to sites and places of importance; pieces of music that were favourites.

Societies also honour losses. Traditionally this process has been a function of government with the focus typically being on honouring those who are lost through the development of physical monuments.  However we have seen over the recent decades, a change in the process of achieving remembrance for a community's loss, moving from staid monuments to responsive, community focussed, memorials.

Remembrance, and how it is expressed, contributes to the rebuilding of a sense of place by helping identifying what is important, in a community sense, to people both prior to the disaster and in the "new normal".  When well facilitated, the process of achieving remembrance seeks to collectively express the meaning of the disaster for all the community, by engaging people in a conversation about the past, what is important to them, and the future (Richardson, JF (2010), Disasters and Remembrance a journey to a new place Grief Matters).