One of the kindest things you can do for someone who’s lost a loved one is to help keep their memory alive through stories. I was reminded of this recently when a friend’s daughter wrote to me asking for my support in a philanthropic endeavor to honor her mother’s memory. She added, “I would also like to extend an invitation to those of you who knew my mom personally to send me a short story about my mom. It always makes me smile to know people are remembering her.”
So how do you do this? In my case, I thought about stories that would reflect the special qualities of my friend and I chose those that covered a range of years, beginning when her daughter was young all the way through to the months just before her death. I then wrote her daughter a long email and shared stories that would be new to her, hoping they would make her smile, but also showing her new perspectives about her mom’s wonderful traits. I also forwarded the email to her dad. He was aware of the stories but I hoped it would make him feel good to know I was remembering many special memories of his dear wife and my good friend.
Do you have special memories of a friend, neighbor, loved one, or colleague? Sharing those memories can be simple. When you see a neighbor, you can say, “I was thinking of Bob this week. I was getting ready for Halloween and I remembered how much fun my kids had trick or treating at your house. Bob always made such a fuss over their costumes. He had a knack for making them feel special.” When you bake a friend’s chocolate cake or prepare her chicken dish, drop her daughter or son an email and let them know. “I get so much pleasure making your mom’s signature chicken dish. It’s always so good and it brings back the sweetness of our friendship.” And what about the teacher that made a difference in your life or one of your children? Their spouse or children would love a reminder that their loved one mattered.
When something triggers good memories of someone who has died, don’t keep them to yourself. Spread the sweetness with their loved ones.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.