Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Living Memories Project

When a dandelion dies it does not simply shrivel up and fall on the ground but rather turns white, and when you blow it, its seeds scatter to the far ends of the earth to begin anew.

I do not want my daughter Marcy to be forgotten. To me, she will, hopefully, always live on in the heart and minds of others, and I believe that, like the dandelion, all the good she did here on earth and the kindness she showed others will help her to be remembered. Her voice may be silenced, but, hopefully, I can continue her legacy by helping others as she would have continued to do if she had lived.

I can see her smiling every time I write one of these blogs, answer an email from someone who needs some advice about how to get out of the hole of grief, or meet a newly bereaved parent and listen to their story at a conference I may speak at. “Good job, mom,” she would say, and give me one of her fantastic smiles.

Besides these goals, by establishing a foundation in her memory to help those in financial need to continue their education and be all they can be—this is another way for me to talk about my daughter and let others know, not only how much I loved her but also continue one of her own goals in helping others that she can no longer be part of.

I am only one of many parents who works on leaving a legacy for one who died too soon. A new example is Meryl and Stewart Ain and Arthur Fischman who have put together a book called “The Living Memories Project,” inspiring stories about moving beyond loss and keeping memories alive (It is very similar to my first book, “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye.”).  This book details through interviews, anecdotes, essays, poems and photographs, the many ways that both ordinary people and celebrities incorporate the presence of their loved ones into their lives. Some who have shared describe encounters or occurrences in which they strongly felt the loved one’s presence, while others have drawn upon rituals or recipes or created a tangible memorial.

The Aims’ son died while serving overseas. “We established the Major Stuart Adam Wolfer Institute so that his legacy of leadership, commitment to his country and community service will continue to live on and will inspire future generations of children, adults and leaders to support U.S. troops stationed overseas and domestically,” they said and added, that in the work they do, they often feel Stuart’s presence.

One reviewer, author and Rev. James Martin, sums it up perfectly. “For most of us, losing a loved one will be the worst tragedy of our lives. And we struggle with how to best honor their memory, indeed, how best to remember them. This moving book not only is a tribute to some extraordinary individuals who have gone before us, but also serves as a guide for all of us who wish to remember those who have touched our lives with their love.”

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