Save a Seat

Thoughts on Grief During the Holidays and Major Events by Jessamyn Putnam

The holidays are here, and whether it is your first holiday following the loss of a loved one or not, suffice it to say, this is usually a rough time of year for those grieving the loss of someone they loved.

So what do you do?  While there is no “one size fits all” approach, grief does not take a sabbatical at Christmas, or weddings, or birthdays.  First and foremost, allow yourself and others the right to grieve.  Everyone grieves differently, and instead of telling someone how to grieve, allow them the freedom to grieve in their own way and do not take it personally.  I have twin boys, and while identical, they grieve differently.  One acts out and says mean things, the other just cries and cries with very loud, heart-wrenching sobs.  I acknowledge their loss and give them space and forgiveness, while also allowing myself the opportunity to step away and cry my own tears.  We can also be hard on ourselves, but this is not the time.  We must give ourselves grace and space to grieve.  Stifling or denying grief leads to unresolved grief which can cause physiological problems and make you physically ill.

Recognize and commemorate your loved one by saving a seat.  Set a place at the table, include a favorite shirt on the chair, shoes on the floor, and/or photo on the place setting.  Your loved one might be physically gone but will remain ever present in your thoughts for some time to come.  Encourage family and friends to share their memories or stories.  While a loved one might no longer be with us, it is important to remember the good times, to laugh about funny things they said or did, and to acknowledge that he or she is missed.  Yes, there is a strong possibility of tears, but it is also a time for family bonds and bonds of friendship to grow stronger.

Know you are not alone.  Friends oftentimes do not know how to respond to someone grieving the loss of a loved one.  They would love for you to reach out and tell them what you need.  At the same time, it is important for friends to offer specific ways of assistance – cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, folding laundry, a cup of coffee.  Every day tasks can often feel overwhelming when someone you loved has died.  Lean on your churches, funeral homes, hospices, and social/service organizations as many offer grief programs and/or assistance with daily tasks.

Remember to breathe.  Take each day at a time.  And save a seat for the one you loved.

©2019 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory

Memorializing Mom for Mother’s Day

by Jenny Goldade of Frazer Consultants

With Mother’s Day coming up, it’s a time to honor moms and remember those no longer physically with us. It’s a tough time of year for those grieving the loss of their mom. That’s why we’ve come up with these mementos and traditions to pay tribute to mom this Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Mementos

A DIY memento is a perfect keepsake to honor and remember mom. From photo crafts to a shadowbox, there’s something for everyone that captures their mom’s personality.

Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Make a photo memento such as memorial frame or scrapbook filled with photos of your mom and her adventures.
  • Put together a shadowbox filled with her favorite things such as clothes, jewelry, photos, and items related to her hobbies.
  • Decorate a jewelry box to keep all her jewelry safe in one place.
  • Personalize a vase with her name and other little decorations like gems or ribbon and put her favorite flowers inside.
  • Organize all her signature recipes into a personalized recipe book.

Family Traditions

Family members can come together during Mother’s Day to honor and remember her together. Whether it’s through visiting her favorite place or baking her favorite dish, there are many ways to pay tribute to mom.

Some ideas are:

  • Visit her grave site or ash scattering location and leave flowers.
  • Go to her favorite restaurant and go around the table and share a memory of her.
  • Plant flowers in a memorial garden in her honor.
  • Donate time to a community food pantry, animal shelter, children’s hospital, or another location.
  • Take a trip to her childhood home, school, or another special place.

Personal Rituals

When grieving your mom, it’s alright to have a tradition of your own to honor her. There are many possibilities, from writing a tribute to her or just taking the time to look through old photos.

Here are a few ideas to help find the perfect ritual to remember her by:

  • Take some time to yourself to remember her by just sitting in peace and quiet.
  • Look through old photo albums and scrapbooks.
  • Remember her by lighting a tribute candle in your home.
  • Write and dedicate a song or poem to her (you can share it, frame it, or keep it to yourself).
  • Keep a book of your memories with her and share them with your children or loved ones.


Tools to Help Document and Preserve Family Stories

With the apps and technology that exist today, it’s now easier than ever to record, remember, and memorialize your loved one’s life.


StoryWorth is an award-winning tool for capturing the important details about a family’s history. You start by signing up and inviting other family members to join. Each week, StoryWorth will email a question or a writing prompt.


Some sample prompts include:

  • How did you get your first job?
  • What were your favorite toys as a child?
  • What is one of your favorite children’s stories?
  • Did you have a favorite teacher in middle school? What made them great?
  • What have you changed your mind about over the years?

The family members then respond to the prompt. Their story is shared with other family members who also have signed up. After a year of weekly stories, StoryWorth takes the responses and creates a personalized keepsake book. It’s a perfect way to capture the stories that most family members might never hear about.


FamilySearch is a mobile app that makes capturing memories easy. It also works without an internet connection, so you’re able to capture memories anywhere. The app has four main features — photos, stories, audio capture, and a family tree. You can snap a quick photo of important events, such as graduations, recitals, or a wedding and upload them to the app. FamilySearch then lets you write or voice-record descriptive stories about each photo and tag other family members.


The best part is that your memories are stored for free permanently in the FamilySearch vaults. The app also allows you to easily share your created memories on other social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram.


HistoryLines is an app that helps you visualize your family’s past and puts it into a historical context. The app lets you start by uploading the stories, photographs, and memories of your ancestors. It then shows you an interactive timeline of important events surrounding the years of a family member’s life. It also includes an interactive map to show where they might have migrated from, as well as the culture of the society they lived in.


Twile is another tool that allows you to build your own family tree and timeline. You start by adding the details about your relatives to create a digital family tree. The app then instantly creates an interactive timeline from the family tree. From there, you can add and edit important special moments, such as births and weddings. The app lets you create a detailed timeline by letting you write your own story about each important event, as well as attaching an unlimited number of photos to each event.


Once you’re done creating your timeline, you can share it with relatives and encourage them to share their own memories.


Kindeo is a private social network. Think of it as a family-only Facebook. It lets you privately share stories, memories, and personal reflections with your close family members. It’s designed to be intuitive, so it’s easy to use for grandparents and grandkids alike.


TapGenes is a little different than the other tools on our list. It’s primarily focused on capturing and preserving information about family members’ health. The goal is to help assess health risk factors, create an outlook on future health, and help show how family members relate to one another on a genetic level. According to the TapGenes website, we all “inherit more than just culture, values, and looks from your family; you can also inherit genes that increase your chances of developing certain diseases. Knowing about conditions that run in your family can help you make healthy choices to prevent or lower your disease risk.”