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When Memories Are All We Have

Flickr / Creative Commons / Rachel Zack

8 ways to keep your memories alive for generations to come

My friend’s dad died several years ago but she thinks of him often; his golf hat and golf clubs are a constant reminder. She stores them where they’re visible and she smiles when she sees them. A cousin wore his dad’s coat the first winter following his father’s death and a friend found great comfort using her mom’s handbag while she grieved her death.

These stories made me think of my grandma. She was constantly in the kitchen and she always wore an apron. I wear an apron too and every time my hands reach behind me to tie the bow, I think of my grandma. And I’ve continued her legacy by giving every family member an apron.

These tangible reminders are what keep our loved ones close and a continued part of our lives. I was reminded of this when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at a restaurant this weekend. All grown up, I was surprised she wanted us to sing the family birthday song. The song dates back to my mom’s camping days and my mom made it a part of our family’s celebrations; I’ve passed it on to mine. My husband, daughter and I tried to sing quietly, clinking our glasses on cue. I thought how special it was that my mother’s legacy is still very much a part of our lives and I have every confidence that my daughter will pass it on to another generation.

Here are some ways to keep your memories alive, not just for you but for generations to come:

1. Display photographs where you can see them often, and use them as a way to share a story with other family members and friends.

2. Prepare and integrate family recipes into your daily life and holidays and let everyone know their history.

3. Share copies of your loved one’s recipes. When I share a recipe from my mom, I always title it “Jean’s ***,” and it always give me pleasure. And I have recipes in my personal cookbook that bear the name of my friends’ loved ones.

4. Use a family heirloom, such as a serving piece, at holiday time, reminding your family of its history and all the occasions it’s served.

5. Pass on family heirlooms to family members that will use and treasure both the item and the memory.

6. Tell stories and tell them often. Your personal stories will become part of your family’s history.

7. Copy documents and share them with other family members to preserve and cherish your loved ones.

8. Document personal history and memories, creating a written story to be passed down to generations to come.

This article was written by Robbie Miller Kaplan for LegacyConnect, Legacy's grief support center. It was originally published on April 18, 2010.

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.