I lost four loved ones — my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law — within nine months. Like all bereaved people, I wanted to honor my loved ones’ lives 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 in honor of my brother. We also donated financial memorials to churches and the local food bank.
You may have held memorial services, too, 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 multi-media presentation are 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 grief. “Learning how to finish is an important skill for us to develop,” she writes, “whether we are facing finishing with dead people or with live ones.” I see memorials as part of grief resolution, yet I want to continue to remember my loved ones and the joy they brought to 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 of keeping 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 talks about life’s troubles. “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, either as a 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? You find an outstanding trait that your loed one had and make it part of your life. My daughter had a marvelous sense of humor and I vowed to laugh more. My father in law was one of the most ethical people I have ever known, and I vowed 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 I try 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 part of my life. Weaving Action Memorials into my life brings me joy. You may create similar Action Memorials honor of your loved ones and find comfort in them.
Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson