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Ways to Honour Your Loved Ones this Holiday Season

making sense of life & death Dec 15, 2020

Sadly and oh so humanely, it sometimes takes a death itself to take stock of how your life has been enriched by someone you love.  

As you may know from Reena’s recent blog post, Momento Mori and Don’t Forget to Live, my vibrant 82-year-old mother-in-law with whom we shared our home of 12.5 years, died suddenly a month ago. It was yet another reminder of the constant presence of life and death, and how unpredictable the human experience is.

This past weekend, close to 100 of us from near and far came together to remember her in a lovely virtual memorial ceremony, facilitated by New Narrative Memorials. The online Zoom event was a central part of our goodbye rituals.

In honour of our connection and to acknowledge the gifts I received from my mother-in-law, I read aloud at the memorial this list of 15 things I learned from her over the 15 years I’ve been married to her son.

  1. Technology is overrated. 
  2. Expiry dates on food packaging can be ignored.
  3. You can never have enough freezer space.
  4. Waste not, want not. See #3. 
  5. Whether it’s Halloween costumes, hostess gifts, baking, preserves or cooking, homemade is best. 
  6. It’s important to celebrate special occasions. 
  7. You’re never too old to try new things, like Gymnastics for Seniors at aged 81. 
  8. If you like it spicy, pack your own chilli peppers. 
  9. Be persistent. If you are ailing, find someone who can help you and if it doesn’t work, keep looking. 
  10. Friendship is the foundation of a good life. 
  11. Forgiveness is an essential part of family life. 
  12. There are so many ways to bring beauty into our world. 
  13. Take time to rest, put your feet up, read a book and have a drink.
  14. Tending a garden keeps you connected to the circle of life. 
  15. No matter how fabulous you look and feel or how healthy you seem, you never know when you’re gonna go. 

Is there a loved one—living or dead—you might like to honour by creating a list of what you’ve learned from them over the course of your relationship? We invite you to create your own list of 15 things (or 5, or 25!). It would make a heartfelt gift for the living, and an impactful gift to yourself, friends and family members, if the person is deceased.

Death and dying is often the catalyst behind recognizing another person’s impact on us, and it’s never too early or too late to honour and acknowledge the gifts received in a relationship.

With all my love,

Michelle (+ Reena)

What about you? 

What gifts have you received from someone you love?

How does it impact you to acknowledge the gifts you received?