“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams
One of the most painful parts of grief is facing a string of tomorrows without your loved one. Whether you lost the love of your life last month or your mother slipped quietly away while in hospice care, the past is all you have with them. But is that all?
After someone close to us dies, we may think that our connection with the deceased is over. Maybe we assume that the “healthy” thing to do is to let go and get over our friend’s or family member’s passing. Or perhaps we struggle to mention our loved one in conversations. It’s just too painful to recount the memories when their absence is so palpable we can touch it. Or maybe you’d like to find a unique way to honor your loved one. But you’re not sure what to do. Each of us mourns in different ways. And these ways may change throughout the years. But our relationship with our loved one is never over. It lives on. It continues to be a living, breathing thing. Here are some ways to create lasting memories with your loved ones during the last days of their journey:
1. Create a biographical scrapbook
Find photos of your loved one, along with letters, ticket stubs and any other flat memorabilia that bring back positive memories for you. Then find images of historical events that correspond with those dates. This might be anything from images of presidential elections to athletes to popular appliances that were used during the lifetime of your loved one.
2. Contribute to maintaining a peaceful environment.
When someone is dying, they have enough to handle. Assume that any discord in their environment will add to their load and be unkind on the part of those causing it. Even if the dying person is seemingly unconscious, assume he or she can hear and be affected by everything that happens around them. If family members are squabbling, take it outside of the room. Consider the dying room a sacred space where only love and comforting activities are allowed unless the dying person requests otherwise. Just give your loved one the best send off possible leaving no regrets.
3. Create a living reminder
Many families said that they planted a tree, flowers or an entire garden to instill hope in their terminally ill family members or as a memorial to someone they miss. Greeneries not only represent the vibrant nature of life, its unique colors also add novelty and liveliness to a household. This type of hope is especially important in times of grief and sorrow.
4. Check off their bucket list
The idea of a “bucket list” has become incredibly popular with many people. The idea is to create a list of things they want to do“before they kick the bucket.” There are often common themes in bucket lists like traveling the world or running a marathon. But a bucket list doesn’t have to be so adventurous. It’s all about accomplishing one’s own personal dreams.
Accomplishing items on a bucket list with your loved ones will bring great joy to everyone in attendance. These memories surely are remembered for a long time.
5. Talk about the things you did together
‘Remember when we …’ Laugh together about the memories you’ve shared. Through conversations, you will re-experience joys and tears with the person you love and walk through their “gallery of life.” These moments are precious to both parties and leave a lasting impression.