Great Self-Help Advice to Remember Our Parents

Written by Jon Sindell

Here's some do-it-yourself advice on creating memorials to departed parents. Learn how various people keep their memories alive.

When Louis Rasky's father died, he first found order, then strength, in a year of praying for his father, in accordance with Jewish tradition. But when the year ended, Rasky wanted his father's memory to live on.

From this inspiration The Joseph Rasky Memorial Lecture Series was born.

"Jewish education was very important to my father," explains Rasky. So every spring, the congregation that Rasky's father once attended hears a lecture on matters of special interest to Jews, courtesy of Louis Rasky and his sister Susan.

Memorial Advice
Create an online memorial on the Web (commerical Web sites abound, but you can ensure that a homemade memorial Web site will endure).
Make bereavement a family affair: one set of sisters wears identical lockets bearing photos of their parents.
Create an altar to your parents' memory in the manner of Mexico's Day Of The Dead.
Donate time or money to your parents' favorite cause. 
"It's like pain dipped in honey," says bereavement counselor David Donovan of the feeling we get as we recall our dead parents. Donovan, a psychologist, says the rituals we employ remind us of who we are, because our parents remain our foundation long after they are gone.

The senses are profoundly linked to memory. Donovan summons his own mother's spirit by serving his family cardiac eggs, his fond nickname for his mother's blissfully pre-health-consciousness recipe: eggs fried in bacon grease and dusted with salt.

Sound likewise evokes the past. Donovan's mother taught him music, so Donovan plays the music she loved when he wishes to feel her presence. He also cherishes the sound of silence in the cemetery where his mother and grandparents are buried. There he speaks to his ancestors while lovingly cleaning their headstones.

Sensual delights live on in Mexico's Day Of The Dead, a special time when the dead return to commune with their loved ones and enjoy a day of worldly pleasures. The typical Day Of The Dead altar features the dead person's favorite foods and drinks, and, what the hell, after-dinner smokes. The altar is illuminated by candles to help the dead find their way to the altar, and arrayed with flowers, incense, and photographs of the dead, or anything else that might welcome them home.

The best tributes are life affirming. Some people plant a tree, others a garden, and some, as in Jewish tradition, name a child after a departed parent.

As was said long ago: "There's a time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance."  Ecclesiastes, 3:4

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