Creating Action Memorials in Memory of Your Loved Ones

After a loved one dies it is natural to remember that person with memorials.   You may give money to a national health organization or plant a memorial tree in your yard.  Some family members make quilts and teddy bears from their loved one’s clothing. Others establish non-profit foundations in memory of loved ones.      

More memorials are detailed in the article, “Grief & Bereavement,” published on the Memorial Online website.  Keeping a journal, scrapbook, and multi-media presentations are ways to remember a loved one, according to the article.  “Online memorials are becoming popular,” the article says, and these memorials include stories and photos.

My husband and I lost four loved ones within nine months and we wanted to honor them.  We had memorial services in honor of our daughter and former son-in-law. We flew to Long Island and attended a memorial service in honor of my brother.  In honor of my father-in-law, family members gathered together for a favorite foods dinner – a menu of Dad’s favorite, and often unhealthy, foods.

Many grief experts see memorials as a way to cope with grief.  Judy Tatalbaum, in her book, “The Courage to Grieve,” discusses ways to resolve grief.  “Learning how to finish is an important skill for each of us to develop,” she writes, “whether we are facing finishing with dead people or with live ones.”  I see memorials as part of grief resolution, yet I still want to remember my loved ones and the joy they brought to my life.

Therese A. Rando, PhD, explores this point in her book, “How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies.”  “Perhaps the most effective way of keeping your loved one alive is through your own life and actions,” she writes.  We do this by telling stories about loved ones, acting on their values, enjoying and appreciating life more, and changing behaviors.

In his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” Rabbi Harold S. Kushner talks about life’s troubles and challenges.  “None of us can avoid the problem of why bad things happen to good people,” he writes. Sooner or later, he notes, we all play the role of Job in the Bible, as a victim of tragedy, or family member, or friend and comforter.  “The questions never change; the search for a satisfying answer continues.”

I searched for satisfying ways remember and honor my deceased loved ones.  The answer came to me on the second anniversary of my daughter’s death and my father-in-law’s death.  My answer was to take their personality strengths and make them my own.

In memory of my daughter (who had a marvelous sense of humor), I laugh more.  

In memory of my father-in-law I stand up for honesty and ethics.  

In memory of my brother I have continued my love of reading and share it with others.  

In memory of my former son-in-law, I appreciate nature even more.

These internal memorials are comforting and, as time passes, I think they will be even more comforting.  They give me strength to move forward with life and enjoy every minute.

by Harriet Hodgson