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Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive


Passed and Present is a one-of-a-kind guide for discovering creative and meaningful ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive. Inspiring and empowering, this much-needed, easy-to-use roadmap reveals 85 imaginative ways to celebrate and honor the family and friends we never want to forget.

Being proactive about remembering loved ones has a powerful and unexpected benefit: it can make you happier. The more we incorporate memories into our year-round lives — as opposed to sectioning them off to a particular time of year — the more we can embrace the people who have passed, and all that’s good and fulfilling in our present. Read Chapter Topics Here.



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Praise for Passed and Present


“After a loved one dies, nearly all of us are confronted with the same uncertainty – what to do with their belongings, the shirts, pants, jewelry, papers, and all those important and insignificant odds and ends.  After my parents died, I could have really used Passed and Present.  In this simple and handy book, Allison Gilbert provides surprising opportunities for transforming would-be clutter into cherished keepsakesThis book will do for remembering what Marie Kondo has done for tidying up.
—Claire Bidwell Smith, bestselling author of After This and The Rules of Inheritance

“How we remember those we love is as important as what we remember. Allison Gilbert offers creative, resonant ways to keep relationships alive in a positive way with those we love who are no longer here.”
—Rosanne Cash, four-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter and daughter of Johnny Cash

“What a wonderful book!  Passed and Present is an invaluable resource, a bona fide primer packed with all the ideas and habits we need for remembering loved ones.  This is a book about loss, and also about celebration; about the past, the present, and a future that embraces happiness, the people we miss, and all they still mean to us.”
— Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of Better Than BeforeHappier at Home, and The Happiness Project

“I’ve been lucky to trace my roots with DNA testing. My ancestors are from Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Congo. I didn’t know these details until recently and the discovery has driven me to appreciate those I love and those I’ve lost even more. Most people don’t know I lost my father when I was young.  I wear his ring all the time.  Allison Gilbert’s Passed and Present is an important and timely book.  Her creative ideas for remembering arrive at just the right moment in history, guiding millions of us who are yearning to recognize and pay tribute to our past.
Don Lemon, anchor, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon

“Perhaps no one who experiences a terrible loss needs to learn how to grieve. But perhaps everyone needs to learn how to create a memorial without creating an obsession. Allison Gilbert’s thoughtful book meets a need that most of us might not have even realized was there.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean

Passed and Present isn’t a book about grief, it’s a celebration of our loved ones and of life itself. Allison Gilbert gives us Forget Me Nots — practical, useful, necessary tips for survivors of loss to preserve our memories and live a joyful life. A must for everyone who has suffered loss, which is everybody.”
—Ann Hood, New York Times Editor’s Choice author of Comfort: A Journey Through Grief

“Allison Gilbert understands not only the need for remembrance but also the profound power of shared stories and mementoes. In Passed and Present she offers a fresh—and most welcome—approach to salving grief and staying connected after loss.”
—Dawn Raffel, bestselling author of The Secret Life of Objects

“Allison Gilbert’s Passed and Present poignantly urges us to recognize the importance of staying connected to loved ones who have died. Flying in the face of all the cliches out there about letting go, it wisely counsels us to remember mindfully and lovingly—and offers the tools to do so.”
—Meghan O’Rourke, bestselling author of The Long Goodbye

Passed and Present encourages us to remember in a whole new way. Allison Gilbert’s sensible, no-nonsense approach provides so many fresh ideas that readers will find inspiration on every page.”
—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

“In Passed and Present, Allison Gilbert has given us a remarkable gift. By recognizing a newfound thirst for looking back, she leads us step by step in ways to honor our loved ones and rejoice in our ancestors. This book is necessary and simply wonderful!”
—Benilde Little, bestselling author of Welcome to My Breakdown, Good Hair, and Who Does She Think She Is?

“There has never been a book like Passed and Present. Allison’s eloquent and inviting writing style provides readers with practical and meaningful suggestions for maintaining a continuing connection with loved ones. This is a book everyone, including those of us who work professionally with the bereaved, will read and recommend again and again.”
—Fredda Wasserman, clinical director of adult programs and education, OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center

“In a world that urges us to ‘move on,’ or ‘put this behind you,’ the bereaved often struggle with a common challenge: how to remember the people they can’t imagine living without. With a wide range of creative and compelling suggestions and activities, from food to music and beyond, there’s something in Passed and Present for everyone.”
—Donna Schuurman, senior director of advocacy & training, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families

“We now recognize that grief is not about closure and moving on. In fact, keeping a healthy continuing bond with those we loved and lost is normal– and helpful. Allison Gilbert’s Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive offers a wonderful guide for sustaining that bond.”
—Dr. Kenneth Doka, senior consultant at Hospice Foundation of America, and past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling

“I was 13 years old when my dad died. As his first born, I inherited all of his belongings but was clueless how to preserve them.  I admit to dumping nearly everything in boxes. 30 years later, Passed and Present has given me reason to open them and begin anew. Gilbert’s book is so innovative that it blew my mind. It’s more than just making mundane scrapbooks; her novel ideas include using digital technology to bring loved ones into our high tech world. My son will now have a crystal clear image of the grandpa he never knew. Passed and Present is a treasure.”
—Cheryl Wills, anchor, NY 1 News, author of Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale and The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills

“From my viewpoint, there is incredible value in what Ms. Gilbert as written. Too often (especially in our digital age) we neglect to pause, reflect, and remember. As a genealogist, I spend hours working to recreate specific details about families and their relationships. The tips provided by Ms. Gilbert are straightforward, applicable, and should be taken up by everyone to preserve a bit of their past. The variety of ideas is certain to attract multiple audiences – which is key – preservation of family memories has to come from all elements of a family, rather than just the self-appointed ‘family guardian.'”
—D. Joshua Taylor, President of New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and host of the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow.


Chapter topics include:

  • Repurpose With Purpose:  Ideas for transforming objects and heirlooms.  Discover ways to reimagine photographs, jewelry, clothing, letters, recipes — virtually any inherited item or memento.
  • Use Technology:  Strategies for your daily, digital life.  Opportunities for using computers, scanners, printers, apps, mobile devices, and websites.
  • Not Just Holidays:  Tips for remembrance any time of year, day or night, whenever you feel that pull — be it a loved one’s birthday, an anniversary, or just a moment when a memory catches you by surprise.
  • Monthly Guide:  Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other special times of year present unique challenges and opportunities. This chapter provides exciting ideas for making the most of them while keeping your loved one’s memory alive.
  • Places to Go: Destinations around the world where reflecting and honoring loved ones is a communal activity.  This concept is called Commemorative Travel.  Also included are suggestions for incorporating aspects of these foreign traditions into your practices near or at home.

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