I lost four loved ones: my daughter, my father-in-law, my brother, and my former son-in-law, in nine months. Like all bereaved people, I wanted to honor the lives of my loved ones with memorials. My husband and I held memorial services in honor of our daughter and former son-in-law. We flew to Long Island and attended a memorial service for my brother. We also donate financial memorials to churches and the local food bank.
You may also have held memorial services or donated money in memory of a loved one. Other memorials are described in the article, “Grief & Bereavement,” on the Memorial Online website. Keeping a journal, scrapbook, or creating a multimedia presentation are all ways to remember a loved one. “Online memorials are becoming popular,” the article notes, and these memorials include stories and photos.
Memorials help us cope with grief. Judy Tatelbaum, in her book, “The Courage to Grieve,” discusses ways to resolve grievances. “Learning to finish is an important skill to develop,” he writes, “whether we are faced with finishing dead people or living people.” I see memorials as part of grievance resolution, but I want to continue to remember my loved ones and the joy they brought into my life.
Therese A. Rando, PhD, explores this point in her book, “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies.” She writes, “Perhaps the most effective way to keep your loved one alive is through your own life and actions.” We do this by telling stories about our loved ones, acting on their values, enjoying life more and, if necessary, changing our behavior.
In his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” Rabbi Harold S. Kushner discusses life’s problems. “None of us can avoid the problem of why bad things happen to good people,” he says. According to Kushner, sooner or later we all play the role of Job, whether as victim of tragedy, family member, or friend and comforter. “The questions never change; the search for a satisfying answer continues.”
It took me two years to find an answer. I created Action Memorials (term Copyright 2009 by Harriet W. Hodgson) and they are working. What is an Action Memorial? He finds an outstanding trait that his loved one had and makes it a part of his life. My daughter had a wonderful sense of humor and I promised to laugh more. My father-in-law was one of the most ethical people I have ever met and I promised to stand up for ethics. My brother loved to read, so I promised myself more recreational reading time. My former son-in-law loved nature and tried to observe nature closely.
Action memorials connect me with my loved ones every day. I feel closer to my loved ones and, thanks to Action Memorials, they will always be a part of my life. Weaving Action Memorials into my life gives me joy. You can create similar action memorials in honor of your loved ones and find comfort in them.
Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson