From DIY documentaries, to talking tattoos, after death mementos keep our loved ones close long after they have passed
My mother has a mixing bowl she uses for making scones. It was her mother's bowl, the one she used for making scones. It's not a fancy bowl, it wasn't expensive, but to my mother, it is one of her most treasured possessions.
Momentos such as the mixing bowl are created organically and seem to find their way to the right place and the right person. The passing down of possessions when a person dies is a time honoured tradition and can be an important part of the grieving process.
Sometimes it is those left behind who choose the pieces that are significant to them. Other times, mementos are assigned deliberately through a will or conversations that take place before a person passes. Mementos can be created by or for the person passing.
Psychotherapists Mary O'Brien and Pia Hirsch, who run Advanced Breast Cancer Group, a Queensland support group designed to address the needs of women living with advanced breast cancer, say that most of their members are not focused on 'being remembered', rather on doing things that will help their loved ones after they are gone.
The written word
Knowing they will be missing milestones in the lives of loved ones is often one of the most difficult aspects of facing a terminal disease. Writing letters to loved ones, to be opened on special occasions, can be comforting for the person passing, and incredibly meaningful to the recipient.
Dr VJ Periyakoil spent over 15 years working as a geriatrics and palliative care doctor in the US. With guidance from terminally ill patients and their families, Dr VJ Periyakoil developed a free template for a final goodbye letter.
Creating a legacy video can be done easily on a smartphone or tablet. The structure of the video is up to the individual. It can be a simple message to loved ones, or it can be a documentary of sorts, detailing a person's life, including interviews with loved ones and visits to important or significant locations.
Mission Media has created a useful guide to creating DIY legacy videos.
A memory box can include anything that is important or memorable. Photos, newspaper clippings, items of clothing, cherished books, recordings of songs… the list is endless. The Advanced Breast Cancer Group's Memory Box Project has seen the Bribie Island Woodwork Group, The Woodies, donate beautifully designed and crafted memory boxes.
Technology is taking momentos to the next level. Soundwave Tattoos™ were first invented by tattoo artist and entrepreneur Nate Siggard. Here's how it works, you create an audio file of a message for a loved one. Skin Motion takes your audio and uses it to create a soundwave stencil that you can take to get tattooed. Once it's tattooed, a picture of the tattoo is uploaded to their website, and you download an app that activates the recording. The person with the tattoo can scan it at any time using their phone and hear the voice of their loved one deliver a personalised message.
Professionally-written obituary When the person has already passed, it can be difficult for their grieving loved ones to find the right momentos to hold onto, and trying to do this during the mourning period can be painful. With the help of a professional journalist and expert designers, My Tributes can help tell the story of the person who's passed in a respectful and personal way, ensuring it's memorialised forever in print, online and in a framed keepsake.
Visit www.advancedbreastcancergroup.org.au to learn more about the incredible work being done by the dedicated team.