Action Memorials Link You with Your Loved One

A lot has happened since my daughter died in 2007 from the injuries she received in a car crash. Every day, when I awaken in the morning, I feel her absence and try to accommodate to it. Creating Action Memorials is one accommodation and it has helped us recover from grief. This has been a slow, rewarding process.

Although I came up with the term Action Memorials, the original idea comes from Therese A. Rando, PhD, author of How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies. “One of the ways that you can relate appropriately to a loved one who has died is by identifying with some aspects of that individual’s personality. When I first read this sentence I didn’t fully understand it. Now I do.

My husband and I continue to work on our Action Memorials and our efforts have brought us some comfort. Of course, we continue to miss our daughter, mother of our twin grandchildren, and wish she were here with us. What are some of our Action Memorials?

Donating to the local Food Bank. When times were tough for our daughter she used the local food bank and stocked up on items such as macaroni and cheese. The Food Bank was her safety valve and today, we donate regularly to the food bank. Our checks aren’t large because we have so many medical bills (my husband is disabled), but at least we are helping.

Supporting the public library. I joined a group called Friends of the Rochester Public Library and, as part of my membership, volunteered in the book store. I also served as secretary of the group. These efforts halted after my husband’s aorta dissected and he had three emergency operations. Still, we continue to donate money to the library.

Seeking and enjoying laughter. Our daughter had a marvelous sense of humor. After she died I didn’t laugh for two years. Then I thought about the benefits of laughter and I gave myself permission to laugh. I remember the day I had my first belly laugh. The laughter felt so good and I remember thinking, “Helen, this laughter is for you.” Today, every time I laugh, I think of my daughter.

Staying involved with her children’s lives. Nine months after our daughter died from the injuries she received in a car crash, her former husband died from the injuries he received in another car crash. The court appointed us as the twin’s legal guardians and they lived with us for seven years. After graduating from high school with honors, the twins graduated from college with honors and Phi Beta Kappa distinctions. We see the twins regularly and this is a blessing.

Helping others when possible. At a time when she had little to give, our daughter continued to give to others. I have followed her example and write health/wellness books to help others. I also give lots of books away. When I speak at conferences I end my talk by giving away books and bookmarks.

Action Memorials link me with my daughter every day and this has helped me recover from grief. Think about your loved one’s personality, talents, and strengths., and the Action Memorials you could create. Pick one idea and start working on it today!


About the Author

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 35+ years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Association for Death Education and Counseling, Minnesota Coalition for Death Education and Support, and World Speakers Association. Hodgson is a Forum Moderator/Writer for and author of eight grief resources.

Grief In Action