Everyone has their own way of remembrance and there is no right or wrong way of doing this. There is no formula, there are no rules. Some people find it hard to see reminders, others find it comforting. For me it is a bit of both. I love to make memories and keep mementoes but seeing them also makes me sad. But what you have to remember is that someone’s memory will always stay alive if they are in your heart.
I thought I would share with you some of the things I do to remember and help me in my journey. I hope they might inspire you to think of things too. If you have any ideas you would like to share please feel free to write about them and post them on our facebook page Kiriangel.
I appreciate my ideas are not for everyone, and some of you may even find them strange. But as I said, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and remember loved ones….human or animal. There are lots of memorial goods that you can buy on-line but here are things you can do and make for yourself which can be unique and personal to you.
I will upload pictures and more information as kiriangel.com develops.
Subtle Reminders – You don’t have to make a big statement that is on view to the world. You can do something really simple and subtle that only you know about. I am in the process of making a clock which will have words/lyrics etc that are important to me on the face. However where it will be mounted, no one will see what is written on the clock face. Only I will know. And that is just fine. Perhaps you will wear some memorial jewellery (perhaps you might make your own?). Or maybe you will plant a special plant/tree? A small discreet tattoo? Write them a letter – in a bottle, kept under your pillow or have a small ceremony and burn the letter so the smoke rises to the sky. Sponsor a memorial class in an event. (I sponsor memorial Weimaraner classes in shows). Donate a trophy in their honour for the winners of an event. Name a star, a flower, make a wind chime….there are so many things you can do but the key is to remember that you don’t have to do them all. Anything you do, no matter how big or small is a BEAUTIFUL thing to do.
Crafting & Developing New Skills – Learning a craft or new skill is not only therapeutic, but a great way of expressing yourself. By exploring new experiences you may also find you make new and interesting friends. The crafting world is a family of its own and something I recommend for anyone. You don’t have to be ‘good at drawing/painting etc’ to enjoy crafting. There are so many crafts out there to explore and you will find something you enjoy and you will surprise yourself too. Crafters always want to demonstrate and expand their knowledge and skills. I used to craft for others as gifts, but since losing Kiri I am finding a great deal of comfort in memory crafting for myself and others.
Message/Memory Boards – In my kitchen I have made a chalkboard, so that I can leave messages to loved ones from time to time. This is great for understanding how others in your family are feeling too.
Creative Writing – this is another outlet for your creativity in which you can remember loved ones. You might write prose or poetry, songs, letters or even a book. Loved ones may be your subject or you might simply want to dedicate your work to them or just ‘know’ that they will ‘just know’ what you are saying. I write a lot. Kiriangel.com is a dedication in itself and I write songs and poems too. I am currently writing a fictional book also….whether it is any good or not or ever gets published is irrelevant. The process of writing in itself is very emotionally cleansing. You may not realise it but you are healing by writing. Sometimes making a written statement lets you validate and explore your own feelings and helps you to accept them and move onwards in your journey of life.
Literature, Films & Music – Words are difficult to find that describe how you feel. Often passages of a book, a scene from a film or lyrics from songs will describe exactly how we feel and often create such emotions within us. Crying is good for you. It relieves stress and is an important stage of grieving. You may find that you cry at the smallest things and at unexpected moments. For me, these Bon Jovi Lyrics always bring a tear to my eye.
Always – Bon Jovi (In memory of Kara my second rescue Weimaraner)
This Romeo is bleeding, but you can’t see his blood
It’s nothing but some feelings, that this old dog kicked up
It’s been raining since you left me, now I’m drowning in the flood
You see I’ve always been a fighter, but without you I give up
Now I can’t sing a love song, like the way it’s meant to be
Well, I guess I’m not that good anymore, but baby, that’s just me
And I will love you, baby – Always
And I’ll be there forever and a day – Always
I’ll be there till the stars don’t shine
Till the heavens burst and the words don’t rhyme
And I know when I die, you’ll be on my mind
And I’ll love you – Always
Now your pictures that you left behind
Are just memories of a different life
Some that made us laugh, some that made us cry
One that made you have to say goodbye
What I’d give to run my fingers through your hair
To touch your lips, to hold you near
When you say your prayers try to understand
I’ve made mistakes, I’m just a man
When he holds you close, when he pulls you near
When he says the words you’ve been needing to hear
I’ll wish I was him ’cause those words are mine
To say to you till the end of time
Yeah, I will love you baby – Always
Festive Events/Celebrations – These are really difficult for a lot of people. It seems hard to ‘rejoice’ without loved ones around you. What I do is to make sure they are still around me and part of the event. For example I celebrate Christmas and I have made Christmas decorations with photos of those I love on them which I hang on my tree each year. I have also made some cross stitch initials of those that are close to me (alive and passed & including my dogs). This could be done for any celebration/event. Perhaps hanging up objects/pictures etc around the house that are symbolic to you and them during this time.
Click HERE to get the free pattern to make the Felt Weimaraners
Scrapbooking & Sharing Photographs and Pictures – Creating a special collection of photographs will give you something you can look through and have to hand when you need it. Some people like to keep pictures on their computers but I like to print them off and create scrapbooks & cards. You may want these ‘just for you’ or you may want to share them with family and friends. You might like to commission a drawing or painting or have a go at doing one yourself. There are a lot of promotional companies that specialise in creating personalised gifts and home decorations using photographs. Another way of remembrance which can be personal or shared is setting up a page on facebook or other social networking media site.
Here are some portraits that I have done of my Weimaraners ‘Kiri’ and ‘Kara’. And also one I did for a friend of her Weimaraner ‘Joe’
Remember Others – Learning about history (good & bad) is important. Many people have no one remembering them. I am currently researching the history of a WW1 soldier who died at Ypres. I hope to re-unite some documents which I came across in a junk shop, to his family or museum. I would also like to pay my respects (he has a memorial in the UK also) one day too and lay some flowers. You could look back at historic moments that are relevant to you or your family or your loved one. From these you could research someone you never knew and remember them in your thoughts and prayers.
White Feathers – These are very symbolic to me. I am delivered white feathers on a daily basis. My own belief is that these are messages from those passed letting me know they are there. I am sure everyone has different ideas as to whether or not we are sent messages and the form in which they take. But since I lost Kiri I find white feathers every day in my garden and each year since she passed, when I have unpacked my Christmas tree…there has been a white feather in it. When I see them I remember her and I smile and talk to her. Perhaps there is something (an object, event, smell, place, word etc) that makes you remember a loved one. It doesn’t have to be an unusual event or item. It might just be that when you see/smell/touch/taste/hear that thing, you always smile and remember them. Take comfort in these moments for they are a special connection between the two of you.
Memory Animal Cuddlers – I have made animal memory cuddlers, these are cuddly toys which have small zips in their backs so that they can be filled with mementoes and kept safe. I try to make them with a likeness/character to the loved one. Here are two that I have knitted for myself in memory of Kiri and Kara. They are great when you need a cuddle. If you know someone who crafts they may be able to make you something similar.
Memory Blankets/Quilts – I found making a memory blanket very therapeutic as I made it whilst my Kara (also a Weimaraner) was poorly. I could sit with her and do a small section at a time. It helped me to reduce my obsessing with what lay ahead and it was always her blanket. When she passed I found my other dog Buffy snuggled inside it looking quite sad…she knew it was Kara’s blanket too. I take great comfort in having that blanket to keep us warm. Quilts have also been used for centuries to tell stories. They are handed down through generations and can be added to at any time. A family quilt is a lovely thing and something you could make or design.
Animals – Some people choose to scatter ashes in special and favourite places such as a woodland walk. Others prefer a burial. Again there is no right or wrong way but please consider how you would feel if you had to move house before you make your final decision. I have talked to many owners who are very upset that they (or their parents) houses are up for sale and they cannot visit any longer. I keep my girls (dogs) ashes in caskets in my living room with candles either side (non-flame for safety). I have also purchased a print which reminded me of them which depicts an angel holding a dog. This sits next to them. I want to also be cremated and buried under a tree with all my girls.