This post was originally published on AllisonGilbert.com and is offered here with permission. Allison Gilbert is the author of Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive and other books. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
I’ve discovered fantastic opportunities for remembering and celebrating my loved ones, and I want you to know them, too. My search for fun and practical ideas started because my mom and dad died pretty young, and then my aunt and uncle passed away a few years later. The strategies I’ve found take advantage of every sense — concepts that harness the power of what I taste, see, smell, touch, and hear. There are numerous concrete ways to celebrate what loved ones still mean to you. I call these uplifting concepts Forget Me Nots. Here are five of my favorites.
1. “FamilySource” memories.
Like crowdsourcing, FamilySourcing doesn’t rely on any one person to get the job done. To begin, upload several cherished photos to a Google Doc. Then, invite friends and family to add theirs. Encourage everyone to write a brief story or caption to accompany each image. Take joy in the notion that remembering can be a social activity. You don’t have to remember alone.
2. Upcycle clothing.
Reimagine your loved one’s favorite sweater, shirt, or pair of jeans. Gather a few pieces and transform them into teddy bears, throw pillows, or bean bags. Pieces of fabric can also be used to create one-of-a-kind quilts. Read my post on upcycling and how I created a special quilt by repurposing my dad’s neckties (see image below).
3. Frame their handwriting.
Frame a handwritten recipe or locate your loved one’s signature on a letter, car title, or passport. Seeing your loved one’s handwriting and making it part of your home design can be tremendously stirring and gratifying. Doing so is also a great conversation starter whenever company comes for a visit. Telling stories about your loved one and creating openings for saying their name out loud can be especially healing.
4. Put the “social” in social media.
Post a picture of your loved one but don’t stop there. Ask your friends and family to share their pictures and remembrances as well. This digital back and forth accomplishes two goals: First, it enables you to read stories about your loved one you may never have heard before. And second, it keeps the person you miss most forever contemporary and present.
5. Eat ice cream.
Or, eat any food your loved one enjoyed. Taste is one of the strongest memory-boosters we have. My mother loved chocolate ice cream and my father relished Chicken Parmesan. When I eat either one, I feel a profound and wonderful sense of closeness to my parents.