Last summer, in the midst of packing for a much-anticipated family vacation, I received the news that my mom had died. Of course, I was crushed, and navigating those first difficult days of grief during what was supposed to be a carefree time making memories with my family was so difficult. A year later, I’m still grieving, but have gained the perspective of time. This summer, I’m choosing to celebrate my mom. I’ve learned 5 specific ways to remember a lost loved one and keep their memory alive.
Write Down Things You Want to Tell Them
My mom and I would occasionally text short and meaningful things to each other. The first time it really sank in that my mom wasn’t here anymore was when I thought of something I wanted to text her. That was hard. I still want to tell my mom the important things. So I bought a notebook to use each time I think of something I want to tell her. I write down random thoughts, funny stories, and expressions of love. Even pictures are tucked in the notebook. Of course, it’s not the same as face to face, but having a means of remembrance through communication keeps a lost loved one’s memory alive.
Talk About Them
I feel connected to my mom when I talk about her with those who also loved her. My mom’s friends and siblings have so many stories, and I’ve treasured hearing each one, especially those I hadn’t heard previously. She even had friends on Facebook from her high school that reached out to me to share memories. I feel like my mom is whole again as I’ve pieced her life together in a string of heartfelt memories. I’m choosing to talk about her. It makes it feel like in some way she’s still here.
Celebrate Their Birthday
I know on my mom’s birthday I will be a mess, but I want to spend the day celebrating her life in addition to grieving her loss. Thankfully, I know exactly how my mom would want to spend her special day. She would stay up late and make s’mores. She would insist that all the grandkids have a camp out. She would request angel food cake. Carving out time on this day will hopefully help me heal as well as provide some joyful moments of fun and remembrance.
Ask for Donations in Their Name
My mom was a huge animal lover. Instead of a big funeral, we asked her friends to contribute to the ASPCA in her name. She would be so happy to see that money going to such a great cause that she believed in. Spreading kindness through supporting organizations that help a cause is one of the best ways to remember a lost loved one.
Listen to Music They Loved
My mom loved music. At any point during my childhood, you could walk by our house and hear Living on Love or Long Black Train blaring from the backyard. Back then I was sort of mortified, but now I find that her favorite songs are the songs I enjoy the most. Music has a way of triggering memories and emotions like almost nothing else, and I’m using it to remember my mama.
Losing someone is hard. When it’s unexpected it feels even harder. But a loved one’s passing makes it clear how important our connections are. Grief can look different for each individual and we all heal and different ways. Know you are not alone and be gentle with yourself in your grief.