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Transitioning from passive mourning to active remembering is key to building resilience after loss

Option B Journalism piece by Allison GilbertIf you’re lucky, like me, soon after your loved one dies, a swarm of friends will embrace you in all sorts of meaningful ways. They’ll pack the funeral home, attend the wake or shiva, and a few may even leave homemade meals wrapped in tin foil by your front door so you won’t have to cook for a while. Rituals surrounding loss tend to kick into gear automatically and I benefitted from being the passive recipient of support when each of my parents passed away. Yet my greatest fortune ultimately caused me the most pain…Continue Reading

5 Ways Spring Cleaning Can Help You Build Resilience After Loss

After my parents died, I felt a responsibility to hang on to nearly all their belongings – my father’s neckties, my mother’s scarves, their mortgage records, car titles, passports, books, home videos, photographs, and more. For a while, keeping these possessions made me feel closer to my mom and dad. But years later, doing so became a burden and certainly didn’t bring me pleasure. Over time, I figured out that repurposing objects, or simply parting with them, made me feel happier and more connected.

Purging objects (and upcyling others) enhances our connection to loved ones and drives our sense of resilience…Continue Reading

O, The Oprah Magazine: Why Looking at a Photo Can Ease Loneliness and Grief

o-mag-november-coverIn the photograph, my mother and I are sitting on the stone lip of a large circular fountain in Paris. Shoulder to shoulder, we’re leaning into each other, fingers interlaced, my head tilted toward her cheek. It’s Saturday, August 31, 1985, and I’m 15 years old. We are in the Tuileries Garden, giddy tourists on a mother-daughter adventure that began just that morning when we landed in France from New York.

Studying the photo now, I see not just that moment, but so many other joyous times I shared with my mother: horseback riding in Central Park, the raucous annual holiday parties she hosted.    Continue Reading or View on Oprah.com

CNN.com OPINION: What I share with Angelina Jolie

In 2007 I had my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent my getting ovarian cancer.

It was a surgery of the kind that Angelina Jolie recently underwent, as she revealed Tuesday in a New York Times op-ed. Two years ago, Jolie divulged that she’d had a prophylactic double mastectomy — I had done this as well, in 2012.

Along with the effects of the surgeries themselves, we now also share a related fallout: surgical menopause. Continue Reading

Daily Beast: Motherless Daughters and Parentless Parents Trek to the Andes to Aid Orphans

When author Hope Edelman and I started planning a trip that would take 16 of our readers to Peru to work in an orphanage and hike the Andes, we ignored concerns about bringing together a group of women who didn’t know each other and convinced ourselves it was a great idea. Our confidence bubbled up partly because our readers share an important bond that links them to each other and us: We’ve all lost our mothers, and many of us have lost our fathers, too. It also seemed like an exciting way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hope’s pioneering book, Motherless Daughters. But mostly, we just took an enormous leap of faith. Continue Reading

CNN.com OPINION: Journalist and survivor: The rules blurred on 9/11

A continuous shower of debris rained on my head, shoulders, and back. I couldn’t tell when it would end because I couldn’t even see my hands. Feeling around my surroundings with my fingers, I determined I wasn’t trapped. Within minutes, a triage tag was forced around my neck and I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Doctors in the ER cut off my clothes and stuck a tube down my throat to see if my lungs were burned. They weren’t. I was mostly fine. One of the lucky ones. Continue Reading

Daily Beast: How 9/11 Made Journalists Part of the Story

On Monday, I’ll get to see my triage tag in the 9/11 museum—a reminder of the day I reported live from a hospital bed.
There’s a small piece of paper at the new National September 11 Memorial Museum with my name scrawled across the top. Underneath my name, in black ballpoint pen, it says: Abd pain; Diff breathing; Inhalation.

The triage tag put around my neck on 9/11 will be on display when the museum opens to the public Wednesday, May 21. Continue Reading

HuffPost: Why I’m Giving It All to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The National September 11 Memorial Museum opens to the public today. Timed to this historic moment, co-editors of Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11 have legally transferred all publishing rights to the Memorial & Museum to support its work in perpetuity.

The Museum, before it even officially opened its doors, came under attack for having a gift shop, the same store where Covering Catastrophe will be sold. Former FDNY Deputy Chief Jimmy Riches accused the Museum of “making money off of my son’s dead body.” Continue Reading

WestchesterMagazine.com: 9/11 Survivor Allison Gilbert On The New September 11 Museum And Covering Catastrophe

From almost any spot at Scenic Hudson Park I can see where I nearly died on 9/11. The scene is often unavoidable for me: I live in Irvington and during baseball season that’s where I go to watch my son play home games for his Middle School team. With my back to the Hudson, I wouldn’t trade the view for the world.

Nearly thirteen years ago, I was a producer at WNBC-TV and was sent to Lower Manhattan. At 10:28am, when the second tower collapsed, I was thrown to the ground by a torrent of glass and macerated cement. Continue Reading

CNN.com: Foods every breast cancer survivor should know about

Women checking in for appointments at the Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York this month are being offered more than a pre-op or post-op surgical visit.

On the reception desk, inside a large plastic frame, is a colorful flyer decorated with pictures of luscious-looking fruits and vegetables. It’s an invitation to attend “Superfoods and Super Habits for Super Health,” a seminar that promises to teach patients the foods they should eat to boost their immunity and — not in so many words — reduce their chances of dying of breast cancer….Continue Reading