When a loved one dies, we are often consumed by a fog, like walking around in a daze as the world keeps passing by you. Then the reality of life settles in and the pain of the loss can become consuming. Sometimes during this part of the mourning process, some of us move into a ‘I gotta do something about this’ mode. We move into action. We create a project, join a movement or we finish something that our deceased loved one could not. Dr. Ken Doka calls these folks the Instrumental Grievers.
Most bereaved do move into action and grieve while planning, participating and preparing funeral services, shiva, offriendas and memorial services.
But what happens after these big ceremonies and rituals are over?
How can we continue to carry on our loved one’s legacy? How can we help ourselves in our mourning process a year, two years or even 10 years after the death of our loved one?
Here are some ideas to get your started:
- What were some of the dreams of your loved one? What did they always want to do but didn’t have the time, money or ability to fulfill their dream? Can you do it for them now? Can you do a portion of it?
- Project Cure A local organization in Woodridge who takes medical supplies, wheelchairs, expired medical gloves, etc. and ships them all over the world to people who are in desperate need of medical supplies. You can drop off your unused medical supplies to them or volunteer at their facility.
- Chicago Walk Out of the Darkness Join others in walking in honor of their loved ones who died by suicide. You can also raise support monies to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
- Consider writing letters to family and friends of your loved one, asking them to send you stories of your loved one. What do they miss the most? What do they not miss? What special memories or stories can they share with you? Compile the stories, make a scrapbook, make a video, keep them in a safe spot and do what feels right to you with them.
- Visit the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. Every year they have beautiful and moving exhibits for Day of the Dead. Visit, volunteer or create your own ofrenda at home.
- Gather your loved one’s clothing and make something from them. I’ve seen quilts, teddy bears, and pillows being just a few of the items that can be made. They are a wonderful keepsake.