Ways to Memorialize a Loved One

memoralizing out love onesThere are as many ways to memorialize our loved ones after they die.  There are religious practices, family traditions and individual preferences.  There is never a right and wrong and we either honor the wishes, sometimes they are set-up prior to a loved ones death or we make a decision based on what we think is best.

I encourage people to follow their heart and that comes from that deep place of knowing what is meaningful to that loved one who has died as well as what is meaningful for the living.  Ceremony is most often for the living, it is a final chance for us to pay homage or honor to someones life.  Ceremony is important and meaningful.

This weekend I participated in the burial of ashes of my good friend in the ocean with her sister and a friend.  She requested this prior to her death and her sister made sure her wishes were followed honored.  It was emotional and yet meaningful, it was a way to send her spirit off and offer us some sort of closure to her physical presence.  We shared fond memories and stories, we laughed – we cried.  We will not forget her, rather we will continue to honor her memory!

memorial to loved ne following deathIt is important to honor our loved ones in whatever way is meaningful to you and your family.  Talk of your loved ones often, share stories and don’t be afraid to laugh and cry together but remember our loved ones filled an important part of our lives – right?

If we are remembering a parent, spouse or child they were a significant part of our lives and thus we should continue to talk about them.  Often people tell me that that no one talks about their loved one after they die because they think you will feel bad…think about it, that is crazy because I couldn’t feel any worse!   So please, you have permission to talk, share and remember those who were significant in out lives.  My friend Nan who died I had known for over 30 years, that is significant when it comes to friends.  She was one of a kind and I have dozens and dozens to stories to share.  I hope you do too.


I would love to hear about your stories, how have you honored and remembered your loved ones who have died?  Please share in the comments below.

15 Valuable Lessons That Heartbreak Will Teach You

By Kristen Brown

life lessons are blessingsFinding the silver lining. Turning lemons into lemonade. The rainbow after the storm.

You know them – all the sayings people tell us that are supposed to make us feel better when we face tough times. But here’s the thing, finding a silver lining is darn near impossible when we are so stuck in our emotions and negativity that we can’t see it. The key to getting through pain is to clear away the cobwebs so we can see the potential for future joy in the first place.

When I was widowed unexpectedly at age 31 with a new baby and a stressful corporate job during a crashing economy, I was in the deepest, darkest pit of pity, sadness and anger you can imagine. I was functional and taking care of my daughter, but the foggy thinking prevented me from seeing any sort of potential happiness. It was only when I was able to step outside of myself to see the implications of my mindset, behaviors and attitude on others, my career and my health that I started to see tiny glimmers of hope again.

Only by going through your pain mindfully can you possibly learn any lessons. If you wallow, feel sorry for yourself, complain and victimize yourself, it only perpetuates and prolongs pain. Here are 15 lessons you can learn throughout your journey to help you not only get through pain faster, but minimize future pain when stressful situations happen again.

1. You will find your true friends.

It’s inevitable that some people will not be there when you need them most. It’s also inevitable that those who belong in your life will be there for you to hold your hand and stand by you as you work through your pain. Know that those who don’t hang around aren’t meant to be in your life. Those who do should be cherished for helping you through your difficult time. Be there for them too.

2. Your body will tell you what it needs.

The power of stress on our health is that the earliest signals that we are going through something painful show up as physical symptoms. Moodiness, headaches, stomach aches, weight issues, insomnia – all of these are the first indicators that we need some physical self-care while we figure out how to heal emotionally. Listen to the signals and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and finding ways to laugh even when you don’t want to crack a smile.

3. Your goals will become clear.

There’s nothing like life-shattering pain to help you get focused on what is really important to you. Is it really about getting a bigger paycheck or is finding a fulfilling career more important? Is dating another person of the same type the right step or would it be better to be alone for awhile to know yourself first so you make better partner decisions? Big setbacks can lead to huge leaps forward when you look at how the situation could be different so be open-minded and open-hearted during painful times.

4. Your money will have more meaning.

If you’ve experienced financial loss, bankruptcy, job loss or massive debt, you know the toll it can take on your happiness, security and relationships. The best steps during financial pain are to be aware of your money habits and set up a new budgeting plan so you feel more in control. That will immediately lead to more meaningful and clear decisions about what you want your financial future to be like that isn’t filled with lack, debt or worry.

5. You will know what you value in relationships.

When divorce, death of a partner or a break-up happen, not only do you lose the person, but you lose all of the dreams and plans you shared for your future. This forces you to re-evaluate what was missing in your past relationship so you can choose more wisely in your next one.

6. Your kids will learn from you.

When tough times strike and you have kids, they will watch how you handle YOUR pain and stress to know how to deal with their own pain and stress. Be mindful of how you self-soothe yourself during pain including alcohol and drugs, poor health habits, ways you speak to others and the energy you bring to a situation. If you over-drink, bad mouth and complain when you go through pain, that is how your kids will deal with their own pain when they grow up. Be aware and make the right choices to impact your kids positively.

7. You will become more independent.

No one knows exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes. When you are hurting, people understand your journey even less. It’s up to you to dig deep to find the strength to get through each day even when you feel like curling into a ball in a dark room all day. Only you have the power to make choices for your life. This power can help boost your self-confidence and your independence when you see yourself moving through pain to a happier future.

8. You will discover that music helps you heal.

There’s nothing like a good sad song when you’re wallowing in pain, but you can also choose inspiring music to encourage you during bad days. It feels good to get a  good cry out every once in awhile and those monster ballads can help make it happen. But more important are the energizing and reflective songs that make you feel good, empowered and strong.

9. You will finally embrace that mistakes are okay.

We are all only human. We WILL mess up – often and in big ways. Here’s the good thing about this – we’re all messing up together. You aren’t alone. And mistakes are just one more way to rule out a way not to do things to get you closer to the right choices for your life. Instead of crashing and burning when things go bad, accept the failure and bounce back with gusto.

10. You will become more resilient to big and small changes.

The more pain you deal with and get through with positivity, the better you will be at getting through future change and stress. Resilience is a much studied characteristic that seems to be bolstered by a positive attitude, having gone through pain in the past and how you’ve learned from that pain. Know that even if you feel awful now, it is serving you with strength for the future.

11. Your reactions to stress will be more positive.

When we experience bad stuff in life, we can either let it paralyze us into stress, anxiety and worry, or we can use the pain to propel us ahead. It’s up to you to decide how you will respond to stress. Painful situations have the weird tendency to help us get through stress more positively IF we let the lessons show up and follow through on them.

12. You will understand unconditional love.

When we are stressed, we aren’t usually at our best. We are cranky, easily agitated, tired, sick more often and don’t look great either. Those who stand by us even when we are at our worst love us unconditionally. That type of love can be our anchor when painful times happen and help us to love others unconditionally back.

13. Your pets can be the best medicine.

There is nothing like cuddling up to a furry friend when you need to escape pain. Animals can’t talk back. They don’t expect anything from us except food, potty breaks and cuddles. They are truly the best example of the unconditional love mentioned in point #12. Plus research has shown that pet owners are happier and less stressed because animals boost endorphins which are feel-good chemicals that boost our moods.

14. Travel can open your eyes to new perspectives.

Getting out of your normal routine and heading to a new locale can be extremely therapeutic when you are suffering a painful situation. Seeing other people in new environments engages your brain and body in something fresh and exciting instead of wallowing in the sameness of the pain you are feeling. Get out and explore even if it’s just a new neighborhood nearby.

15. You will appreciate the good times more.

The old saying goes that without a little sadness you don’t appreciate the happy times. If life were just one steady experience of sameness, we truly would not know when a good time is really good. The down times give us a grounding into our human existence while the good times remind us that life is amazing.

There are so many lessons we can learn from pain. The most important one is that we need to acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned in the first place so we can look for them. Every day we go through the stress of heartbreak, loss, change or setbacks is one more day closer to the other side of pain.


Kristen BrownKristen Brown helps people create fresh ideas for personal and professional growth. She is a Speaker, Bestselling Author, Widow Mom, Podcaster, Strategist and founder of Happy Hour Effect and LitPR. Seen on stage and screen over 500 times, she lives in Minneapolis with her daughter and will do almost anything for bacon. Visit HappyHourEffect.com!

How healing allows you to be whole again

healing from loss of a loved oneHealing our broken hearts from our losses is difficult and I think it takes time and it takes work on our part.  We don’t just get over grief to all of sudden become whole with our life again, it is a process and when we are actively grieving meaning that we acknowledge our loss, experience the pain and sorrow and all that goes along with that and we mourn. 

Part of the grieving process is learning who we are and how our life has changed without the physical presence of our loved ones.  This varies with the significance of the loss.  For example when we lose a spouse,  now we must learn to live life without a partner.  There will be many things that are be different and will requires some change to our life.  We may not want to deal with those changes immediately because we need time to mourn the physical loss, perhaps the primary income supporter and the myriad of other things physical and emotional.

So many people ask me “When will I feel better?”  Here are some signs that you are healing:

  • You allow for times of joy, even if there is still sadness
  • By living in the present more than the past
  • By believing life is worth living
  • You want to be social again with family & friends
  • You allow yourself to laugh and have fun without guilt

Healing does not mean you have forgotten your loved one nor does it mean you are not honoring their memory.  It means as long as you are still living, you have a desire to keep living!  I often ask people what their loved one would have wanted for them and the answer always is positive, they would want you to happy and keep living !   Healing requires you to have a positive attitude toward living, to push through even when you just want to go back to bed and cry.

Click link for tips:
–>> How to heal a broken heart and become whole again



Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!

Life is uncertain, eat dessert firstRecently I went to a nearby small town art fair, which was a delightful way to spend a nice Saturday in the summer.  While walking down the side walk of this small town, I spotted this sign in front of a restaurant.  I loved it because it spoke so much to me about how we all live our lives.

Life is so full things we “should do”

I started to think about all the things in life that we are supposed to do,  or should do and how they are done in cultural or societal defined ways. It was the start of a great conversation with my friend and we laughed about things that we still do because it is supposedly the best way, tried and true way or my favorite – the way something always has been done.

Sometimes we need to break the mold

If you are reading this blog it is because you are on a grief journey so  I will relate some of the ‘should dos’ that stand out for me and I wonder if we can change this standard way of thinking…

  • When you go over to someone’s house to express your sympathy you bring the standard green jello molded salad in your dish with your name taped to the bottom of the dish. I think everyone should stop with the jello and in fact stop with all the food in general unless it is obvious after visiting with the family that you could help by bringing food.
  • Making the standard comments to someone grieving a loss such as, “Sorry”, “He/She lived a good life”, “They’re in a better place now”, “You’ll find someone else”, – you’ve heard these right?  I might suggest those of us who have experienced loss change and others perhaps will follow. How about this type of greeting, “I’m so sorry for your loss, I can’t possibly imagine how you are feeling right now, but know that I care and will be calling you next week.”
  • Don’t make any drastic decisions for two years after your spouse died.  This isn’t always practical or realistic. I believe however, that sometimes we need to make the most judicious decision regardless of what others think.
  • You should remove all the personal belongings of the person who died so as to not remind you of the painful loss all the time. Now how dumb is that, having the memories of our loved ones through a picture or personal belonging can remind us of how much we loved that person. That does not mean we are building a personal shrine, but honoring the memory with momentos is great.

Live life now is a great motto

I think the more we live life now, the more we savor what it means to truly live.  Doing something because it’s always been done a certain way is no reason.

Life can be messy, life can be complicated at times and life can be filled with uncertainty.  Often those grieving loss don’t know what to do without the physical presence of their loved one, they become paralyzed in the past and don’t know how to move forward and live life again.  But life has no guarantees, and the magic is in the everyday moments.  Pay attention, there are miracles all around you, you just have to look because they are there.

You have gifts and talents that the world is waiting for and now is the time to set some priorities and decide how will I live? I encourage the newly bereaved to take small steps, one action a day or week toward something positive in your life is better than simply telling yourself you will be ready soon.  Life can be so fleeting and I think the best way to honor the memory of our loved ones is to keep living it!


“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”- Joseph Campbell


lessons from death, life is uncertain, eat dessert firstSometimes we just need to have a milkshake for breakfast – now that’s livin’.

Lessons learned from death.


How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

How do you want to be remembered?When we attend someones funeral everyone is reminiscent over the person who died.  We remember their life, if they died young we talk about how unfair it is and if they had a long life we often talk about their accomplishments.  But the one thing we all realize at a funeral is that all we have are memories.  Yes, I have always said that death teaches us much about life.

Ask yourself now, how do you want to be remembered?

I have suffered many of my own personal losses and when writing the obituary following the death of my husband I wrote about his accomplishments and those things I wanted people to remember about him.  But what we all do so infrequently is ask ourselves how do we want to be remembered?  How will I live my life now?  How will I invest the time I have this day and each day before my own death?


  • Will I invest more time with my family?
  • What time do I choose to invest in my business or work life?
  • When will I take the next vacation and stop putting it off?

These are some of the questions we should be asking ourselves in life NOW.  There are no do-overs, all we get is now which reminds me of the famous poem by the American Poet Mary Oliver called “The Summer Day”.  The last half of the poem is what moves me the most…

…”I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

I know you might be reading this and saying to yourself when you get through this then you will invest some time into something, but then the weeks turn into months that turn into years and before you realize it so much of your life has passed you by. People who have regrets at the end of their life wonder why they wasted so much time putting off life until something was different.

You make the choice, what are your priorities?

Don’t let a crisis or death push you into asking the question of how do you want to be remembered, spend some time and ask yourself that question today, think it through, write it down and start living.
What is important to you?
Do you have a set of priorities in life that you own or are your priorities someone else’s.

  • God
  • Self
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Work

Life takes courage & commitment

So now that you have a priority list, make ONE decision a day and follow through.  Sometimes that means taking a risk – what does that mean?  Maybe it means just stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a stand in your life.  Will you have fear? probably but that’s why we need that shot of courage to step up to our life.

Mary Oliver quoteSo how will you live your one wild and precious life?  By doing so, you will honor the memories of your loved ones that have passed because I believe they are in heaven cheering you on to do just that!!


…Share with me in the comments below, how do you truly want to be remembered?


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