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What One Mom Learned After the Death of Her Son

This piece was written in partnership with Nisha Zenoff.

Not too long ago I came across The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies?, a thoughtful and necessary book by Nisha Zenoff. The heart of the book is not the death of Zenoff’s 17-year-old son Victor who was killed in a hiking accident; rather, it’s the urgent set of universal questions such as the ones below that Zenoff poses and then answers summarily for her readers:

  • “Will my tears ever stop?”
  • “Who am I now without my child?”
  • “How can I help my other children cope?”
  • “Will my marriage survive?”

The structure of The Unspeakable Loss is what makes the book such essential reading. Each Q & A is a quick and satisfying read and every section provides a soothing Band-Aid of support and information. Zenoff’s warm and welcoming approach acknowledges the outsize pain of losing a child, yet offers the kind of opportunity that gives permission to other bereaved parents to embrace life, love, and joy again.

For Zenoff, the decision to move forward involves honoring Victor’s love of the outdoors. She and her husband sprinkled his ashes along a dirt trail in the woods. Zenoff’s daughter named one of her daughters Victoria, in honor of her brother. Opportunities for remembering like these are just the types of meaningful strategies I share in Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive.

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Photographs Fuel Happiness. Here’s How.

On my grief and resilience blog, I write extensively about innovative ways photographs can be used to remember and celebrate family and friends we never want to forget. Pictures spark memories, and feelings of nostalgia can make us happier. I call this little known upside of nostalgia the Reflection Effect, and I wrote about the phenomenon for O, the Oprah Magazine. But looking at photographs isn’t the only tool for embracing the past. Another great opportunity is taking photos. Here are some fun and creative ideas for using photos to make you happier:

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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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3 Ways to Use Warmer Weather to Strengthen Memories of Loved Ones

The bright yellow pop of daffodils around my neighborhood reminds me of one of the most creative ideas I’ve come across for keeping memories of loved ones alive. Read on for this innovative springtime strategy and two others.

Grow Daffodils. In a time of loss, give a wicker basket full of daffodil bulbs. The strategy here is for the recipient to plant, if possible, one bulb for every year the loved one lived. Daffodils are the perfect flower for such a happiness-inducing project: as perennials, they’ll come back spring after spring—and they’re virtually indestructible.

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20 Years #rememberinglynn

It was twenty years ago this week that my mother died of ovarian cancer. I’ve lived an incredible life since she died: I’ve gotten married, given birth to two amazing children, enjoyed an exciting career in TV news, published three books, and I’m about to publish my fourth. Despite not being here, she’s never left me.  

I’ve never stopped #rememberinglynn, yet I did something different this year to mark the anniversary. I used Facebook to invite family and friends to share their memories with me and with each other.  

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