My friend’s dad died several years ago but she thinks of him often; his golf hat and golf clubs are a constant reminder. She stores them where they’re visible and she smiles when she sees them. A cousin wore his dad’s coat the first winter following his father’s death and a friend found great comfort using her mom’s handbag while she grieved her death.

These stories made me think of my grandma. She was constantly in the kitchen and she always wore an apron. I wear an apron too and every time my hands reach behind me to tie the bow, I think of my grandma. And I’ve continued her legacy by giving every family member an apron.

These tangible reminders are what keep our loved ones close and a continued part of our lives. I was reminded of this when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at a restaurant this week-end. All grown up, I was surprised she wanted us to sing the family birthday song. The song dates back to my mom’s camping days and my mom made it a part of our family’s celebrations; I’ve passed it on to mine. My husband, daughter and I tried to sing quietly, clinking our glasses on cue. I thought how special it was that my mother’s legacy is still very much a part of our lives and I have every confidence that my daughter will pass it on to another generation.

Here are some ways to keep your memories alive, not just for you but for generations to come:

1. Display photographs where you can see them often. And use them as a way to share a story with other family members and friends.

2. Prepare and integrate family recipes into your daily life and holidays and let everyone know their history.

3. Share copies of your loved one’s recipes. When I share a recipe from my mom, I always title it “Jean’s ***” and it always give me pleasure. And I have recipes in my personal cookbook that bear the name of my friends’ loved ones.

4. Use a family heirloom, such as a serving piece, at holiday time, reminding your family of its history and all the occasions it’s served.

5. Pass on family heirlooms to family members that will use and treasure both the item and the memory.

6. Tell stories and tell them often. Your personal stories will become part of your family’s history.

7. Copy documents and share them with other family members to preserve and cherish your loved ones.

8. Document personal history and memories, creating a written story to be passed down to generations to come.


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 StoreClick here to order.


Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons/Rachel Zack

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Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 20, 2010 at 4:41pm
What a beautiful post and lovely ideas. Lynne, thanks so much for sharing them with us.
Comment by Lynne on July 20, 2010 at 4:32pm
I would like to share a couple of things I have experienced that really touched me. One was a good friend whose sister passed away, I didn't know this friend at the time and unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet her sister. This is a simple magnet that her family made that says "Remember Cathy, live life with a shout not a whisper". These were the size of a business card. All of her family members have one on their fridge. I read them all the time and smile as a result I asked them, so tell me a fun story about Cathy. She was also very young and full of life. It has allowed me to get to know her and her family to be able to talk about the all the great things about their sister, daughter, friend. They made these themselves by printing the saying on regular printer paper and then buying the magnet material at the office supply store. Both sisters told me it was also sort of therapy, the making of them. They all want to be sure she is not forgotton.

Another thing happened to me one day I was in a line at a fast food rest. in the drive through and when I got to the window the lady told me the person in front of me had paid for my order. Then she handed me a card, again the size of a business card that had a picture of a child and it said "you have been gifted with a random act of kindness in memory of our Son..." and had the young man's name along with a weblink to a legacy page that was online. Of course I went home and read it and now again I am touched and will remember another person I never even met.

I mention these things not to make your loss sound trivial but just thought these were both nice things. I know it must be very difficult for you but hopefully you have many friends that you can share those great stories I know you must have about your daughter. I also believe when we have a loved one that is so special it is important to share her with those that knew her and those that didn't. When we do this they are -Never- forgotten! Take care and God Bless and I would love to hear something about your daughter when you feel you want to share!
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on April 17, 2010 at 2:30pm
My deepest sympathy to you Carol. When you feel up to it, what about making a scrapbook album of your daughter's photographs and memorabilia so you can look at it and remember. And you can share it with family members. You could also put a scrapbook together of all the notes and cards her friends and family members sent after her death. Buy special picture frames to frame your favorite photos of her and keep them where you can see them. Find a nonprofit that is line with your daughter's values or interests and make a donation in her memory. Plan to make a donation every year at her anniversary and draft a message to the nonprofit each time to let them know you are honoring her memory. You'll think of other ways to honor her memory so your precious daughter will not be forgotten.
Comment by Carol Kunnerup on April 17, 2010 at 2:07pm
This may be, but what about my daughter?
she was 18 and did not have any heirlooms or recipes. I don't want my little girl forgotten. I want her fun and bright spirit to be a part of us daily and I just don't know how when my heart is so broken with the loss of her.

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