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September 14, 2015

Taking Time to Remember
Danvers Herald

Remembering is healing. People commemorate all kinds of transitions and milestones – great vacations, births, weddings, graduations. We look at photos and get together with family and friends to reminisce and share stories. Most of us have difficulty with change, however, and the loss of a loved one is a major change. Instead, of coping with the loss of a loved one many of us struggle against it or try to ignore it.

And yet, when our loved ones’ birthdays occur or the first holidays take place without them, we feel the need to be closer to them. Rituals of commemoration help us remember our loved one, while also offering comfort and a chance to express our grief in a different way. They serve as stepping stones that move us forward in our grief. Grief knows no time table – it isn’t over in a month or a year. Grief is patient, persistent and demands to be tended to. What fades is the intensity of the pain. Commemorative activities, whatever form they take, have the dual purpose of both honoring our loved ones and helping the bereaved. And both are equally important.

The activities we choose to commemorate our loved ones create opportunities for us to gain support from one another. They also give us satisfaction that we are cherishing our loved ones’ memories and have incorporated them into our ongoing lives. Some people use commemorative activities to give back to the community and help others in need. Here are some examples of how you can take time to remember:

Think outside the box: The commemoration can be anything; it doesn’t have to be a formal ceremony and it doesn’t have to be public. Throw a party, get together with friends for a joke-telling contest in honor of a loved one who relished a good joke. For someone who loved Christmas, gather a group to go caroling at a local nursing home or just around the neighborhood. You can even carry a sign that states you’re caroling in honor of your loved one.

Put the special back into special days: If your loved one was crazy about Halloween, consider what will give you comfort on that day. Maybe it’s celebrating the holiday exactly as your loved one did. Or it could be that you carry a little bit of that tradition with you and give it a new twist. Consider volunteering at a local homeless or animal shelter or other community non-profit organization.

Find opportunities to commemorate and remember: You don’t have to create your own rituals. There are many opportunities in the community in which you can participate. On Sept. 20, more than 3,000 people from across the region will take time to remember during the 28th-annual Walk for Hospice that kicks off at 9 a.m. at St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers. The Walk for Hospice is an uplifting experience that attracts many families and people of all ages who return year after year to walk in memory or honor of a loved one.

Do whatever works for you: The activities you select for commemoration can be as unique as you are. The choices will be different for each individual, especially as everyone has different comfort levels. The key is to do something that is meaningful for you. For more information about ways to commemorate your loved ones or participate in the Walk for Hospice, visit CareDimensions.org/walk or call 978-774-7566.

–Nate Lamkin is the Director of Bereavement Services and Program Development for Care Dimensions


Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts.