Connections to Place in the Memorialization Practices of Older Adults and Their Families

Kevin Stott, Jacquelyn J. Benson, Steffany Sloan, Sara B. Murphy, Allison K. Halt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Research suggests that one way to encourage healthy aging is to construct one’s environment in a manner that helps maintain one’s identity. Specifically, studies in environmental gerontology posit that the construction of an identifying environment includes the process of claiming a “place” within the space that one resides. Place-making includes both the geographical location and moral ideals that one assigns to the location, and is established in studies of older adults. However, it is less clear how the idea of place-making extends beyond mortality for older adults and their families. The purpose of this study was to explore how personal connections and attachments to a specific location make the burial/memorialization location(s) a “place,” rather than simply a space. In this qualitative study, 12 individuals who had lost older family members were interviewed about their experiences of place-making in the memorialization of their loved ones. Analyses revealed that participants were attached to the places of memorialization because the locations maintained the identity of their loved ones. Additionally, participants also shared that the places of memorialization fostered feelings of the continued presence and connections with their loved ones. Practical implications and future directions for research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Housing for the Elderly
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Place-making
  • burial location
  • identity maintenance
  • place attachment


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