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Whether it’s the anniversary of a public event like the Boston Marathon bombings or the Columbine shootings, or a not-so-public anniversary of a friend or neighbor’s tragedy, it’s important to reach out and show that you haven’t forgotten. Many people will rush to help right away and that is very necessary, but there are forever a chance to show that you still remember him much later.

So what can we do months or even years in the future?

  • Remember the anniversary. Some people are very organized and enter the date of a loss or sad event in their phone or calendar, so a reminder appears a year later. Others of us may just remember the season … when the trees began to bloom, the fish jumped, the leaves fell, or the snow began to fly. Just remembering and saying or doing something comforting is the key.
  • Visit a memorial site. In some traditions, people place a pebble on the headstone to show their memory and respect. Others may place fresh flowers. Either way, it lets the family know that someone visited and is not forgotten.
  • Send a random note or email. A quick card or email that says “I was thinking of you today. I saw a … (butterfly, flowering tree, baseball game, drag race) and I thought how much … (Danny, Jan) would have loved it see also. I miss … (him, her) a lot. “
  • Send or stop by some flowers. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bouquet or plant; A few pretty flowers from the grocery store will do.
  • Submit a photo of the loved one. Don’t let those photos stay in boxes or on your camera or phone. Share them with the people who would love to see them.
  • “Pay it forward” by doing something in memory of the sick or deceased loved one. Let them know you remember it by … (running a race to earn money, planting a tree, donating blood, volunteering for a charity) in honor of the loved one.
  • Perform a random act of kindness. Let the family know you did it because “that’s what … (Sam, Maria) would have done.”
  • Just take time. Take your friend, neighbor, or family member out for coffee, lunch, a game, or a walk around the block.
  • Be a secret Santa at ANY time of the year. Leave some fun baked goods, toys or art supplies for the kids or treats for the dogs. Who wouldn’t love a random surprise at the door and then enjoy the mystery of who delivered it?

We would all like to eliminate the pain and struggles that follow trauma or death, but we cannot. However, we can walk alongside our friends and loved ones, offering some comfort to their troubled lives. Now is a good time for this to happen.

Copyright 2014 Allidah Hicks and Bonnie Knuti. All rights reserved.

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