As we grieve the loss of someone we love, a common fear is that others will forget that person over time. Our own memories of them are forefront in our minds and hearts, but will family and friends continue to think about them and honour their life?
To ensure the life of the deceased is celebrated there are many things we can do to trigger memories of who they were, what they have done and how they have touched our lives.
Print pictures of the person doing the many activities that encompassed their life from childhood and throughout their adult years! Keep those visible in photo albums and framed pictures around your home. Change the pictures around every now and again and add new ones. These treasured photos will become topics of conversation when people visit you. We live in a digital age and many of our pictures remain filed away on computers, but making those available in your home will continue to keep your loved one ‘alive’ and a centre of memories.
Some families choose to plant a perennial bush or flower in memory of the person who has died. Others might plant an apple tree for grandchildren to climb in as it grows.
Gazing at the rose bush planted in someone’s honour helps remind us of the flowers they loved or the gardening that was their passion. Seeing children by the memorial tree might encourage the family to share stories of the person. Perhaps a bench or swing placed in a garden might create a space to sit and let imaginations revisit past activities enjoyed with that person.
Placing a memorial page about the person on the Internet is another way of keeping their memory alive. Many funeral homes provide this service on their website. The Greater Trail Hospice Society also has provision for this where a biography and pictures of the person can be posted for a year (available at www.trailhospice.org). Family and friends can visit these sites whenever they wish.
Last, but never least, we need to continue to remember our loved one on the important dates of their life. It is perfectly acceptable to continue to honour their birthday by a small celebration that reminisces about special events and activities that were shared. Anniversaries or other special holiday days permit us to stop for a moment and reflectively take pleasure in the experiences that help us hold that important person forever in our memory.
Gail Potter is a Nurse Educator at Selkirk College who chairs the Hospice Board.