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uncertainty distress. yes, it’s a thing.

Like so many parents who’ve had the opportunity to drop off kids at college these past few weeks, I’m wrestling with familiar empty nest questions about what’s ahead for me. But I’m also struggling, because of the anxiety brought on by Covid-19, with a new type of syndrome, more akin to the phantom pain we associate with the amputation of a limb than letting go of a burgeoning adult. 

The first few nights without my children at home I was jolted awake by imaginary text messages. But each time there were no new words written by my son worried about a rising fever or my daughter concerned about a tickle in her throat. So far, they are fine. It was me who’d become temporarily unable to sleep through the night. 

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What You Can Do Right Now to Remember Loved Ones This Holiday Season

I know, I know. It’s only October. But with the holidays coming fast, it’s the perfect time to strategize how you’re going to honor and celebrate the family and friends you never want to forget. How? Keep reading.

Halloween
Stir recollections of Halloweens past and make new memories by attending unusual events. You can also give cherished heirlooms a creepy Halloween makeover.

Thanksgiving
Set your holiday table meaningfully and carve out time to create a special holiday playlist. Cooking also connects us to loved ones. Make a cherished dessert or frame a love-worn handwritten recipe card, using it as a sentimental centerpiece. As Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow explains in one of her cookbooks, “I always feel closest to my father…when I am in the kitchen.”

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What One Mom Learned After the Death of Her Son

This piece was written in partnership with Nisha Zenoff.

Not too long ago I came across The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies?, a thoughtful and necessary book by Nisha Zenoff. The heart of the book is not the death of Zenoff’s 17-year-old son Victor who was killed in a hiking accident; rather, it’s the urgent set of universal questions such as the ones below that Zenoff poses and then answers summarily for her readers:

  • “Will my tears ever stop?”
  • “Who am I now without my child?”
  • “How can I help my other children cope?”
  • “Will my marriage survive?”

The structure of The Unspeakable Loss is what makes the book such essential reading. Each Q & A is a quick and satisfying read and every section provides a soothing Band-Aid of support and information. Zenoff’s warm and welcoming approach acknowledges the outsize pain of losing a child, yet offers the kind of opportunity that gives permission to other bereaved parents to embrace life, love, and joy again.

For Zenoff, the decision to move forward involves honoring Victor’s love of the outdoors. She and her husband sprinkled his ashes along a dirt trail in the woods. Zenoff’s daughter named one of her daughters Victoria, in honor of her brother. Opportunities for remembering like these are just the types of meaningful strategies I share in Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive.

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Making and Sharing Halloween Memories

Yup, that’s me. A little devil. This photo brings back joyful memories of Halloweens past. I’ve tried to make October 31 equally special for my kids. Part of this effort was taking them to a jaw-dropping event when they were small (they’re teenagers now and generally prep themselves for the big day). Recently, my best friend from high school visited me with her two young sons. Their stay was the perfect excuse to revisit this enormous, one-of-a-kind Halloween extravaganza.

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Robin Romm Discusses the Loss of Her Mother and How Writing and Having a Baby Keeps Her Memory Alive

I’ve had a writer’s crush on Robin Romm ever since I read her scorching memoir, The Mercy Papers. The book is about the last three weeks of her mother’s life. It is unsentimental and raw, ricocheting furiously between anger, sadness, love, and humor. I’m always asked to recommend books on mother loss. The Mercy Papers continually tops my list.

Robin has just published another work and it’s altogether different. It’s called Double Bind: Women on Ambition. Featuring essays written by writers, actors, professors, and CEOs, the anthology explores the complicated relationship women have with professional striving.

In our conversation about grief and resilience, Robin returns to the subject of loss and reveals the most satisfying and empowering way she keeps her mother’s memory alive.

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Option B: Transitioning from passive mourning to active remembering is key to building resilience after loss

Option B Journalism piece by Allison GilbertIf you’re lucky, like me, soon after your loved one dies, a swarm of friends will embrace you in all sorts of meaningful ways. They’ll pack the funeral home, attend the wake or shiva, and a few may even leave homemade meals wrapped in tin foil by your front door so you won’t have to cook for a while. Rituals surrounding loss tend to kick into gear automatically and I benefitted from being the passive recipient of support when each of my parents passed away. Yet my greatest fortune ultimately caused me the most pain…Continue Reading

Parenting Magazine: Grief – Death of a Child

When it was revealed yesterday that 8-year-old Martin Richard was one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Aren Almon Kok felt an immediate, sickening tightness in her gut. She’s never met the Richard family and lives nearly two thousand miles away.

But she may understand more than most of us what Martin Richard’s father is likely going through right now while his wife and daughter remain severely injured following the attack….Continue Reading

 

Parenting Magazine: Would You Let Your Kid Try MMA Fighting?

Jeff Pineda’s eight-year-old daughter, Aalijah, spends every day after school in the gym.  Ten hours a week, the pink-loving third grader from Anaheim, California, steps into a cage to perfect her skills in jujitsu, wrestling, and kickboxing. Some parents might wince watching these sessions; after all, Aalijah gets repeatedly pummeled….Continue Reading

CNN.com Living: How to Raise a Winning Child

Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have made a habit of slaying the sacred cows of parenting in their writing on child development. The pair made headlines two years ago in “NurtureShock” — their first book together — in which they criticized the way many parents choose to raise their children. Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have made a habit of slaying the sacred cows of parenting in their writing on child development. The pair made headlines two years ago in “NurtureShock” — their first book together — in which they criticized the way many parents choose to raise their children…Continue Reading

HLN Raising America: Kids Punch, Kick & Tackle Their Way to the Top

Aidan Thome is 8 years old and preparing for what is likely the biggest moment of his life so far. Later this month, on February 23, the third-grader will enter a 28-foot cage in Yucaipa, California, with the hope of kicking and punching his way into becoming the number one mixed martial artist for his age and weight group in the country. And he may have a shot. Aidan is currently ranked number one for his bracket in California….Continue Reading