One of the most uplifting gifts I’ve ever heard of giving someone in a time of loss is a wicker basket full of daffodil bulbs. The idea is for the recipient to plant one bulb for every year their loved one lived. Daffodils are the perfect flower for such a commemorative project: as perennials, they’ll come back spring after spring — and they’re virtually indestructible. And, the best time of year to plant daffodils happens to be right now, as Thanksgiving approaches.
Planting daffodils can bring bereaved parents enormous joy. Remembering promotes healing and taking proactive steps to keep your child’s memory alive has the power to make you happier. Individuals who honor their connections to the past, who allow loved ones to remain present in their lives, almost always fare better emotionally than those who don’t. Honoring past relationships has proven to have such significant restorative power that noted grief expert, J. William Worden, developed an entire bereavement-recovery theory about it. Worden coined the term “tasks of mourning.” This concept not only includes remembering as a mandatory tenet but also underscores the obligation of mourners to take control of the process of remembering. The mourner “needs to take action,” he explains.
Many scholars argue the same. Yet every written source I consulted before I wrote my new book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, either didn’t provide any specific guidelines for remembering or failed to provide enough. So this is why I wrote the book. To my knowledge, it’s the first of its kind. Passed and Present is a practical and imaginative handbook full of ideas to keep a loved one’s memory alive – not only this holiday season – but any time of year, day or night, whenever you feel that significant and recognizable pull.
Nature is one of the greatest tools we have to reinforce
and celebrate our memories. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, individuals who spend time in natural spaces focus less attention on negative aspects of their lives and open themselves up to the kind of thinking that brings them pleasure – including positive memories of loved ones. Gretchen Daily, coauthor of the study, told me: “Never before have people been so detached from nature. There is growing evidence, however, that reintroducing nature to people who are deprived of it can improve mood. Many individuals feel better in a natural setting, perhaps because it helps them let go of pain.”
Interested in planting your own memorial garden of daffodils? Brent and Becky’s, a family-owned daffodil farm and distribution center in Gloucester, Virginia, offers the following advice for success:
And, one last and very important note:
Planting daffodils happen to be a great activity to involve friends, family, and neighbors. Not only will you benefit from the extra hands, you’ll be able to use the time to invite conversation and share stories about your child. And, talking about family – those who are here and especially those who are not – is what the holidays should really be all about.
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