Allison Gilbert is the author of Passed and Present, and the critically acclaimed books Parentless Parents and Always Too Soon. She is also co-editor of Covering Catastrophe, the definitive historical record of how broadcast journalists covered 9/11. Allison’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and on NPR, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC. Visit Allison’s Website, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. Allison provides presentations and workshops for funeral homes, hospice programs, and related organizations.
My 5 Favorite Ways to Remember a Loved One
I’ve discovered fantastic opportunities for remembering and celebrating my loved ones. And I want you to know them, too. My search for fun and practical ideas started because my mom and dad died pretty young, and then my aunt and uncle passed away a few years later. The strategies I’ve found take advantage of every sense — concepts that harness the power of what I taste, see, smell, touch, and hear.
Whether it was last year or decades ago that you lost someone close to your heart, there are numerous concrete ways to celebrate what they still mean to you. In my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, I reveal 85 fun and innovative strategies for remembering and honoring those we never want to forget. I call these uplifting concepts Forget Me Nots. Here are five of my favorites.
My Five Favorite Ways To Remember Family and Friends Who’ve Passed Away:
1) “FamilySource” Memories — Like crowdsourcing, FamilySourcing doesn’t rely on any one person to get the job done. To begin, upload several cherished photos to a Google Doc. Then, invite friends and family to add theirs. Encourage everyone to write a brief story or caption to accompany each image. Take joy in the notion that remembering can be a social activity. You don’t have to remember alone.
2) Put the “Social” in Social Media — Post a picture of your loved one but don’t stop there. Ask your friends and family to share their pictures and remembrances as well. This digital back and forth accomplishes two goals: First, it enables you to read stories about your loved one you may never have heard before. And second, it keeps the person you miss most forever contemporary and present.
3) Frame Their Handwriting — Frame a handwritten recipe or locate your loved one’s signature on a letter, car title, or passport. Seeing your loved one’s handwriting and making it part of your home design can be tremendously stirring and gratifying. Doing so is also a great conversation starter whenever company comes for a visit. Telling stories about your loved one and creating openings for saying their name out loud can be especially healing.
4) Upcycle Clothing — Reimagine your loved one’s favorite sweater, shirt, or pair of jeans. Gather a few pieces and transform them into teddy bears, throw pillows, or bean bags. Pieces of fabric can also be used to create one-of-a-kind quilts. For example, I created a special quilt by repurposing my dad’s neckties.
5) Eat Ice Cream — Or any food your loved one enjoyed. Taste is one of the strongest memory-boosters we have. My mother loved chocolate ice cream and my father relished Chicken Parmesan. When I eat either one, I feel a profound and wonderful sense of closeness to my parents.