How to Memorialize a Death: Memorial Window Decals

Here's how to create a custom decal for your car in memory of your loved one

Car window decal honoring soldiers
Memorial window decals on vehicle windows are increasingly common and easy to create. Photo © Chris Raymond

During the past two decades, the number of ways you can memorialize a deceased loved one has increased significantly. No longer limited to a headstone or gravemarker within a cemetery, the ever-growing range of product and service options available today makes it relatively easy to select a fitting and meaningful tribute. This article explains how you can create a memorial window sticker or decal to honor the memory of a deceased loved one.

A Growing Business

According to Allstate, the insurance company, Americans started placing bumper stickers on their cars shortly before the start of World War II. In reality, these items were not actually stickers but resembled flags that were attached to vehicles using wire. Credit for creating the first bumper sticker goes to Forest P. Gill, a silkscreen printer in Kansas City, Missouri, who added a pressure-sensitive adhesive sometime during the Second World War.

Since then, adhesive stickers and decals on motor vehicles have promoted everything imaginable, from political candidates and ideologies to vacation destinations and personal passions. In the early 1990s, shortly after the United States began fighting Iraq during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, yellow-ribbon symbols bearing the words "Support Our Troops" grew in popularity, both as self-adhesive stickers and, later, magnetic versions.

Inevitably, someone conceived of creating a custom memorial bumper sticker/decal to honor the life of a departed loved one, although who and when is unknown. Since the growth of the Internet and the ease of ordering custom-made window stickers/decals online, however, the use of custom memorial window decals has skyrocketed.

According to an article that appeared in The New York Times in 2005, a custom-decal company in Columbus, Mississippi, estimated that memorial window decals alone comprised "about 20 to 30 percent of our business."

How to Make a Memorial Window Decal

Today, locating a company that provides custom memorial window decals is as easy as searching online for those exact terms, i.e., "custom memorial window decals." Many companies even offer specific sections on their websites devoted to memorial window stickers/decals, often organized by theme, such as religious, firefighter or law enforcement, armed forces, pets, hobbies, etc.

Make sure you take some time to review the options available online from multiple providers in order to locate a company that offers a sticker/decal that you find meaningful -- something that "speaks to you" and captures an important quality about the unique individual you want to commemorate. Reviewing multiple companies will also enable you to compare prices (see below for more about the costs involved).

Once you've selected a provider, the next step is to decide whether you want a text-only memorial decal or one that incorporates a graphic element. Many companies offer templates with recommended letter- or word-counts designed to fit the available space of the decal/sticker. This simplifies the process and helps ensure professional-looking results.

In addition, regardless of whether you want a text-only window decal or one that incorporates a graphic element, many providers offer previews online that enable you to see how your sticker/decal will appear once you've added your custom text and before you actually place your order.

Several factors impact the cost you will pay for your memorial sticker/decal, such as its size, the amount of text you desire, the use of stock or custom colors, the quantity you order, etc. In terms of size, memorial decals typically range from eight square inches up to 68 square inches (or even larger). Choose the size based on where you want to apply the sticker/decal on your vehicle -- such as a rear window, door or tailgate, the hood, etc. -- and how much you wish to spend.

As noted above, the amount of text you want to add also affects the cost you will pay. Most providers include the name of the deceased and his/her birth and death dates in the quoted price, but charge an additional amount for each extra line. (Again, it really pays to shop around online to determine which company offers the best price for what you have in mind.) Below, you can find a list of inspirational quotes and sayings under "Related Articles" that you might consider adding to your custom memorial sticker/decal.

Most companies offer their decals in an array of colors at no additional cost, but you should consider the background color of your vehicle and where you want to place the sticker/decal when selecting a color. White or a bright color shows up well against the tinted window glass used by most vehicle manufacturers, for example. A darker color, such as black or blue, contrasts nicely against the paint colors used on the body of most vehicles, however. If your memorial decal/sticker already incorporates a contrasting background color, then you don't need to worry about your color choice.

Finally, given the above factors, the number of memorial stickers/decals you order at one time will generally affect the cost. Many companies offer quantity discounts based on the number of stickers/decals you purchase. Generally starting around $4 or $5 for one memorial decal/sticker, the price can drop per-unit if you purchase five, 10 or 20+ at the same time.

It is quite common for a family member, relative or friend of the deceased to order several dozen custom memorial window decals/stickers and hand them out at the funeral or burial service to other attendees, so, before ordering, you should decide if you want to create this decal for yourself or for others, too. (And don't forget to factor the shipping cost into your decision on which company to use.)

Regardless of your decision, a custom window decal/sticker in honor of a deceased loved one offers a terrific way to create a "mobile memorial" that you and anyone who sees it will appreciate down the road.

Related Articles:
How to Memorialize a Death: Memorial Benches

Words of Inspiration: Brother
Words of Inspiration: Child
Words of Inspiration: Death & Grief
Words of Inspiration: Downton Abbey
Words of Inspiration: Father
Words of Inspiration: The Fear of Death
Words of Inspiration: Friend
Words of Inspiration: Grandparent
Words of Inspiration: Grief, Loss and Mourning
Words of Inspiration: Husband
Words of Inspiration: Infant
Words of Inspiration: Laughing at Death
Words of Inspiration: Mother
Words of Inspiration: Pet
Words of Inspiration: Proverbs and Folk Sayings
Words of Inspiration: Shakespeare
Words of Inspiration: Sister
Words of Inspiration: Soldier
Words of Inspiration: Wife
Words of Inspiration: Workplace

Sources:
"Stuck On You: America’s Bumper Sticker Obsession" by Brendan ONeill, August 3, 2012. The Allstate Blog. Retrieved June 22, 2014. http://blog.allstate.com/stuck-on-you-americas-bumper-sticker-obsession

"In the Rear Window, Tributes to the Dead," by Allison Engel, December 11, 2005. The New York Times. Retrieved June 22, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/fashion/sundaystyles/11DECALS.html

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