Sunday, April 17, 2016

Guest Post: Top Three Ways to Remember the People You Miss Most

Joyful Readers... 

Please welcome Allison Gilbert, my first guest poster!  I'm drawn to her mission of keeping the memory of loved ones alive and know you will be too.

 I’ve never met anyone who’s completely stopped thinking about the person he or she loved; our memories flow in and out and wash over us at anticipated and unexpected times. And while many of us want to keep the memories of lost loved ones alive, the question that often confounds us is -- how?  The absence of a useful guide to answer this question is what prompted me to write my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, the first roadmap for discovering fun, creative, and inspiring ways to remember the family and friends we never want to forget.

 My motivation for writing the book extends beyond filling an unmistakable void in bereavement literature. I want anyone who has ever lost a dear friend or family member to embrace their memories and celebrate them. Why? Because doing so will likely make you happier.

 Honoring past relationships has proven to have such significant restorative power that noted grief expert J. William Worden developed an entire bereavement-recovery theory about it. He explains, “Death makes you feel out of control. Taking steps to remember leads to empowerment and feeling empowered is absolutely necessary for living a full, happy, and loving life.”

 I have found this to be true. In the years following the deaths of my loved ones, I came to recognize that the more I incorporated spurts of remembrance into my day to day life -- as opposed to sectioning them off to a particular time of year -- the more I was able to embrace every part of me: the people who have passed, and all that’s good and fulfilling in my present. And I was happier.

 Below are a few of my favorite opportunities for celebrating relationships that are still important to us. In Passed and Present, I call these ideas Forget Me Nots.

 Repurpose Favorite Garments: I love this concept because it turns clothing into objects you can appreciate every day.  A few years after my father died, I made a quilt out of his colorful assortment of neckties. Other possibilities include:

  • Using cherished garments to make handwoven rugs, table runners, Moroccan-style poufs, or throw pillows.
  • Deconstructing fleece jackets and sweatshirts to make cuddly teddy bears.
  • Stitching together corduroy and other thick materials to craft duffel bags, gym bags, and everyday totes with the help of Totes with Tales (

 Make a Game of It:  Given how much we can do with technology these days, it would be a shame to not harness its benefits for children. You can personalize a deck of cards with photographs of both living family members and those you’ve lost. By integrating all your loved ones, children are seamlessly taught to value every relationship in their lives. The same sense of recognition can come from customizing a board book for a toddler or designing your own memory game. And, if you work with the eco-friendly website to create these projects or others, the company will plant a tree in recognition of every purchase—giving customers the opportunity to dedicate that tree to whomever they wish. Love that!

Share Family Recipes: My grandmother made the most delicious coffee cake. I prize the handwritten recipe and worked with Beth Digman, owner of Prairie Hills Pottery, to make it a central part of my kitchen.  Watch this video to see more. Digman creates several types of custom pottery and will make a special piece just for you. Here are two additional ideas for preserving recipes:

  •  Frame a beloved handwritten heirloom as art for your kitchen.
  • Create a DropBox or Google Drive folder where your extended family can upload and share favorite recipes.  This online repository can also include meaningful photographs.

The essential takeaway from Passed and Present is that absence and presence can coexist, and that engaging with the past, and bringing memories into the present, is what gives us the greatest strength to move forward, and helps us find our joy again.  We just need a few ideas.  We all just need to know how.


Jenna Brandt said...

Love your blog! YOU are such an inspiration and I truly enjoy reading your writing. I shared your blog on mine Keep writing!!!

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