IDEAS ON KEEPING MEMORIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED EVER-PRESENT By Ella Miller The death of a loved one can break your heart and shatter your life. Took me a long time to learn that you CAN keep people present in your heart and home in a way that celebrates how much they meant to you (versus having your heart break every time you think of them). And that moving on from your grief doesn't mean that you are forgetting about them. It just means you've made the choice to rise from the pain that is causing you emotional distress and anguish. This kind of distress might manifest in the form of fogginess — not being able to focus on activities you have to do in life — lethargy, feeling depressed, headaches, body aches and other effects. This is why it's important to grieve but not get consumed in your grief or let your sadness take over your life. I learned a lot of thing after my son, Andrew, passed away from complications with his breathing. Took me years to get the courage to even say or think about his passing without breaking down...

Then once I realized that I didn't have to hide away my thoughts, here are steps I took to let them out, celebrate his life, and place joyful reminders all around me. They helped to "free me" from my personal sadness. Hoping my ideas might inspire others who have lost loved ones and want to keep their memories alive in meaningful ways: 1) Celebrate their birthday. You can still bring family members together in honor of anyone who passed and keep stories about them going. Making it a yearly tradition to gather around a table on your loved one's birthday will give everyone the chance to share a special moment in their memory. We do this every year on Andrew's birthday. And while the first couple of times it was tough because of our sorrow, it's now become a family tradition that we can't imagine not doing. While you're together, talk about the good things you remember about your loved one. If young children are present, this can help them better understand the place that person had in your life and still has heart. 2) Hang wind chimes. When they make music, you'll think of your loved one. This idea came from my mother who gave me angel windchimes that do, indeed, remind us of Andrew when we hear them. 3) Post pictures of your loved one in common areas of your home. I used to keep pictures of Andrew tucked away until I realized waking up to his picture on my bedroom mirror gave me the chance to say "good morning." 4) Create a keepsake box. Did your loved one leave you with a small collection of keepsakes or something special to hold on to? Treasure it inside of a special keepsake box where you can protect the precious memento while still giving it a "real" place in your home. For me, Andrew's keepsake box has pictures, his hospital wristband with his name on it, a cast of his tiny newborn feet, and a few other cherished items that I pull out ever so often when I need a bit of comfort.

5) Capture their scent. Smell is a powerful trigger of memory. It's not uncommon for people who have lost someone in their life, like a male figure for example, to keep a shirt that still smells of that person's favorite cologne. Or for a granddaughter to still have her grandma's favorite sweater because it smells like the scented lotion she wore. I have an outfit that Andrew wore and smell can be comforting for me. And when the scent dissipates naturally over time, you can place that item into the keepsake box if you feel it's still important to keep it.

However you choose to memorialize that special person, what you do can be as unique as they were. Keeping their memory aglow in a private, personal or even public way allows them to live on with you in whatever way you choose.

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