- Make a quilt or pillow from special clothes of your loved one for comfort.
- Put together a scrapbook honouring a special event (such as a birthday) which includes personal stories, photos, and passages.
- Assemble and design belongings in creative ways (e.g. jewellery, dream catchers, frames).
Visiting Symbolic Spots
- Plant a tree or flowers in a meaningful spot.
- Organize a memorial walk at the favourite place of your loved one.
- Go for a walk on the beach and pick up shells which symbolize the feelings you are experiencing. Throw stones in the ocean that represent letting go.
- Go to your loved one’s favourite vacation spot.
Having New Traditions
- Light a candle on special family holidays in memoriam.
- Set a place setting for your loved one and have guests share a special memory.
- Bake your loved one’s favourite cake and have a memorial birthday celebration with friends and family.
- Write in a journal thoughts and memories for reflection.
- Compose a letter to your loved one sharing whatever is on your mind.
- Have a ‘Memory Jar’ and everytime you think of something you want to share or you remember, put a little note inside.
In Memoriam of Hazel (Mackay) Steeves
Obituary (April 20, 1927 – October 22, 2016)
Downsizing the family home can be a big undertaking as the primary caregiver. Another step with grief acceptance is honouring the belongings of a loved one with respect and love. While sorting through some of Mom’s boxes, I discovered that she dreamed of being a published writer throughout her life. When I told Mom that I published some of her stories on a blog, she lit up like a Christmas tree. Our dreams may fade but they still remain alive in our hearts.
As per Mom’s last wishes, a prize has been arranged at Mount Allison University to be presented to a student in the Department of English who excels in creative writing. An E-Book of Hazel’s Short Stories for Children called Beyond My Years will be given to each prize recipient. Having a prize or scholarship arranged at an educational institution provides an opportunity ‘to give a legacy gift that keeps on giving’. A donation can be made in memory of your loved one (the prize’s namesake) to honour a birthday or special occasion. For example. a card can be sent to a friend that says, ‘A donation has been made to the Hazel Steeves Creative Writing Prize to honour your birthday.’
As your Grief Coach, I will support you in undergoing rituals to help with healing (e.g. life story boards, creative keepsakes, special tributes, ceremonies) and with your journey of gaining acceptance of the reality. In the slideshow below, I feature a sampling of some creative keepsakes that I have made from Mom’s jewellery and photo memories. I continue my path of nurturing my soul and moving towards full acceptance. There is no time limit.
I thought I would also share some rituals from my healing journey below as food for thought. Be gentle and kind with yourself. “It has been said that there are two deaths: one at the time of passing, and one at the time we stop remembering. The ‘first year of firsts’ is a twisty road of ups and downs.”
Special Days on the Calendar
- On Mom’s birthday, we had a memorial birthday party to share stories and celebrate her life.
- On Mother’s Day, a balloon release takes place enclosing a personal thank you message.
- At Christmas time, we have a place setting ‘for spirit’ at the dinner table, a white memorial tree, and a year-round pink butterfly tree as Mom loved butterflies!
- In the town where Mom spent most of her adult life, a tree has been planted in her memory to recognize her contributions of service.
- On the one year anniversary of Mom becoming an angel, my family had a rose bush dedication at the nursing home nearby where she resided in her last three years of life.
- In Mom’s memory, a dedication plaque with a painting of the family homestead was presented to the funeral home that now is located on the site of Mom’s childhood home.
- At the funeral service to make it unique, Mom’s favourite treats were shared during the reception which included coffee crisp bars and ice cream.
- A ceremony was held at Mom’s nursing home to recognize those who had passed away during the month.
- Having a memorial service (7 months later) in our home town was very special as it brought together family and old friends. My brothers and I symbolically lit three candles on my Mom’s candelabra that she always had on the mantle while we were growing up.