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Caroline Leavitt on Loss and a New Sense of Purpose

Caroline Leavitt has always occupied a special place in my heart. This incredible author has written 11 books and happens to live in the same town where I got my feet wet being a new mom, Hoboken, New Jersey, a fabulous city outside New York City. I asked Caroline to participate in my Q & A series on grief and resilience because she understands rebounding from adversity from two distinct vantage points – the death of her fiancé and the slow loss of her mother to dementia.

Caroline’s newest book, Cruel Beautiful World, has been praised by NPR Weekend Edition, New York Newsday, Marie Claire, and more.  It’s also been named an Indie Next Pick.

Now, let’s dig in. Nostalgia, the sentimental longing for the past, boosts resilience and makes us happier. This essential realization (that finding ways to stay connected to friends and family makes us stronger) is at the heart of my book, Passed and Present, Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. So, it wasn’t surprising to me that an inexpensive figurine Caroline’s fiancé gave her as a present (a Bullwinkle Moose!) doesn’t bring her down; It lifts Caroline up. [Read more…]

Ann Hood Talks About Grief and Resilience

I first became aware of New York Times bestselling author Ann Hood after reading her deeply stirring book, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, a memoir about losing her 5-year-old daughter Grace to a severe form of strep. My interest in her work only grew when I pored over her novel, The Knitting Circle, a work that cuts through many themes including “loss, hope, love, knitting, friendship, and the power of stories in our lives.”

Ann’s latest work, The Book That Matters Most, is a must-read. The story centers on a book club, but the novel is also about the accidental death of the protagonist’s sister and her mother’s suicide one year later. I could not put this book down.

Ann and I met at Spoken Interludes, a literary salon where celebrated and emerging writers read their work and answer questions from a large and enthusiastic audience. If you’ve never been to one of these events, I highly recommend carving out the time, if at all possible. Below, Ann and I talk about grief and resilience. We also discuss how music (the Beatles) and food (plain pasta with butter) have brought her unexpected joy.

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Join the #MemoryBash Movement

Today begins a national movement to make remembering loved ones as fun and joyful as a birthday party or wedding. Come join individuals across the country — in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, among many other cities — for a MEMORY BASH. Together, we’ll celebrate and learn new ways to remember the family and friends we never want to forget.

What Is A Memory Bash?
A Memory Bash is an excuse to get together as a group — eating, drinking, and having a great time — while celebrating loved ones who have passed away in the company of others drawn to do the same. It’s a joyful, innovative idea I write about in Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. There are Memory Bashes taking place coast to coast. Locations and times can be found by going to my website, www.allisongilbert.com. Even more information is available in this very short video.

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Five Ways to Use Social Media to Remember Loved Ones

Technology is the low-hanging fruit of memory-keeping. Emails, texts, social media and apps allow us to work virtually and socialize remotely. The power of these devices can easily be harnessed to keep your loved one’s memory alive. The tools are already in your pocket and on your desk. By incorporating memories into your digital life, a dual opportunity exists to reflect and receive: You can share memories while simultaneously taking comfort in the stories and support that ricochet back.

I encourage you to integrate your loved one into the rich and varied digital life you already lead—whether at home, work, or on the go. The Forget Me Nots below are my top five ways to use social media to remember loved ones.  

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