A few thoughtful, practical, and surprising ideas for honoring her memory.

By Yolanda Wikiel
Updated April 12, 2016
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When you’ve lost your mom, Mother’s Day is a tough day—and scrolling through the brunch-filled posts on Facebook and Instagram can make you feel even worse. While feeling sad is perfectly normal, author Allison Gilbert offers a more empowering approach in her new book Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, which is full of concrete tools for preserving memories of those who have passed. “Taking steps to proactively remember loved ones is essential to healing,” she says. “Individuals who find appropriate ways to stay connected almost always fare better than those who don’t.” And, for Gilbert, embracing social media was helpful. One of her favorite tributes for her mother who she lost in 1996 is posting photos of her on Facebook, which tends to spark a heartfelt discussion from friends and family. Here, some of her other creative ideas for remembering Mom.

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If the thought of Mom’s recipe card for her famed banana bread getting tattered, faded, or covered in gunk breaks your heart, there’s a way you can make it last for the next generation. Transpose her recipe—handwriting and all—onto a beautiful serving dish. Go to Prairie Hills Pottery for details. Prices start at $25.


Retrace the steps of your mother’s favorite hike or replicate her life-changing trip to Paris, recreating the photographs she took along the way. If you can track down the same backdrops that were in her pictures, you’ll have a poignant now-and-then to look back on.


This is great way to connect with loved ones near and far in memory of your mom. Ask those closest to her if they’d like to write down a special anecdote or funny story of her. Then send a blank journal to the first person on the list along with mailing labels with the other participants’ addresses written on them. Each person records his or her memory, signs it, and then passes it along to the next participant. At the end, you’ll get an especially meaningful memento.


Leave home-baked cookies for a sick neighbor. Add coins to someone's parking meter. The Kindness Project, sponsored by the MISS Foundation, a national organization supporting families who have lost children, invites people to do good for a stranger in the memory of loved one. On their website, you can download a preprinted card stamped with, "This random act of kindness... done in loving memory of _____________" to leave behind for the recipient.


Write down all her favorite sayings—from the wise pearls of wisdom ("Courtesy and compassion cost nothing") to the ridiculous exclamations ("Fiddlesticks!")—in a journal. Reading back over her words later can be a great source of comfort when you're in need of guidance or a familiar voice.


When you frame and matte official documents, like her birth certificate, diploma, passport, and marriage certificate, it begins to tell a story. Group them together on a wall in matching frames for a beautiful illustrated history of her life.