Making memories to help keep loved ones alive is what keeps author Allison Gilbert on the road these days. She’s traveling around the country on her “Memory Bash” tour. It’s all part of her new book, “Passed and Present”—a how-to book of sorts with 85 ways to celebrate those you don’t want to forget.
Making memories with and of loved ones is perhaps the most important thing we can do to ensure others who have passed away remain in our lives. But author, Allison Gilbert, has taken to the road for a “Memory Bash” tour in which she’s bringing together people from around the country to learn and be inspired about new ways (85 to be more exact) to keep our memories of loved ones tangible and to be proactive.
We met up with Allison at a New York event for her book, “Passed and Present” as she tag-teamed with Martie McNabb, a founder of “Show and Tale” gatherings. (She’s also featured in Allison’s book.) Those who attended were encouraged to bring an object that meant something to them and we quickly learned from McNabb, “Every thing has a story.”
Gilbert tackles the need we have to keep memories of loved ones we’ve lost alive, while showing us things we can do to create mementos and share stories allowing us to celebrate our loved ones long into the future.
We heard from Tammy, an artist and now more of a spiritual woman than she once was, who told a story about her mother, and how after her mother’s cremation, she took her mother’s urn to visit different places that had been special to both her mother and father—places they’d visited together as a family. What she’d actually described is a version of what Gilbert refers to in her book as a “Connection Vacation.” In Gilbert’s version, not only do you visit places where your loved one spent time, but you talk with their friends, neighbors, colleagues and classmates and perhaps you’ll have a chance to hear stories about your loved ones that you’ve never heard before.
Keep It Social
As Gilbert explores new opportunities to celebrate what someone means to you she tells us, “You can have an amazing life, family AND you want to remember and celebrate those you love and keep them present.”
Traveling to each unique memory bash, she arrives with the goal of teaching people to take what’s usually an isolated event (for example, lighting a candle, going to a cemetery) and instead, make it social. She wants us to do something that will allow connections with others, make new friends and celebrate.
Use Your Senses
From technology to food, music and travel, her ideas are chosen to use all of your senses as you’re making memories. Clothing, jewelry, recipes and much more are all a part of projects. She even shows us how social media and technology can be used to make remembering “modern.” And years after family members or friends have passed, her suggestions are meant to help you transition from being passive in support of them to being active, and accepting the role and responsibility of remembering them. Gilbert points out that grief experts say remembering makes you happier.
She recounts an experience traveling to the Rise Festival in the Mojave Desert. Here, everyone gets a paper lantern and writes messages to their loved ones on the lanterns. Together, they are lit and sent into the sky. It’s a message of love and thoughts sent through light.
In another idea, she’s worked with a company named Paper Culture out of Los Angeles to make a “Concentration” or “Memory Card Game” in which the cards have photos of loved ones both living and passed on for your children to play while at home or on the road. The game challenges them to learn more about relatives they know and others they’ve never met. (The company, btw, will also plant a tree in the name of a loved one.)
While on the Road
Gilbert says more than anything during her travels, she’s experienced joy as people have an opportunity to come out and celebrate their loved ones. “It’s a joyous atmosphere—truly uplifting,” she says.
Because all of her events are active, she’s encountered some interesting challenges as she moves from place to place. She carries different physical components with her each time and she smiles thinking about some interesting comments they’ve garnered while she’s trying to get through the airport. From specialized snowglobes, to plates with recipes printed on them, to three-tiered china projects, she’s also learned that when you’re traveling with items that are fragile, to make sure those things are packed tightly at the bottom of your suitcase—cushioned for minimal movement.
She finishes her event with a toast in honor of your loved ones.
Gilbert reminds us, that when traveling after having lost someone, “This is an opportunity to insert yourself into events around the world where remembering your loved ones is the focal point—and that’s incredibly empowering.”