When someone dies we do something very strange in our culture: we start talking about our love using the past tense. Instead of saying, “I love her so much,” we now say, “I loved her so much.”
Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy? Just because someone is no longer with us in physical form, that doesn’t mean that our love changes in any way. We still lovedeeply and completely. All that love is still growing and thriving within us. In fact, we likely feel a deep ache that points to a huge well of love for the person who has died.
My mom lives across the country from me. I’m in California and she’s in Ohio. After I leave a visit with her, I don’t suddenly start saying, “I loved my mom so much.” Of course not! I still love her, even though she isn’t next to me anymore. I love her, even though I can’t see her, hug her, or go to the grocery store with her.
Isn’t it kind of the same when someone we love has died?
A lovely woman in my Simply Celebrate community asked me recently what I thought about the idea of creating a Love List for a person who has passed away. (A Love List is the cornerstone of my work – it is simply a list and gift of all the things that makes someone lovable and unique to you! See how to make a Love List here.)
I responded to this person with a resounding YES!
I have written Love Lists for people who have passed away and I think it is beautiful and important for many reasons:
- It’s an expression of love and we always need more love.
Grief really is just deep, deep love. It’s healthy to give it a path. Making a Love List is a way to channel all those feelings that might be swirling around inside of you into something concrete.
- It’s connection.
When I’ve created a Love List for someone who has died, I feel closer to them. As I am writing it, I like to imagine that they can read what I am writing. I like to imagine that they are smiling, nodding and surrounded by bright light.
- It honors what is true.
Even if someone is not here with us in the same form, the love we shared IS here. We know that because we feel it. We feel it when we see the color of tulip that she grew. We feel it when we hear that song that always made us laugh. We feel it when we watch a video or hear his voice on an audio. The love does not go away! Making a Love List is a powerful way to honor that love.
- It keeps their spirit alive.
Creating an ongoing Love List for someone who has died is a way to keep your memory of them alive. It allows you to “visit” them in your heart. Down the road, you will be so happy to have these things preserved in writing.
- It is a gift for others who love that person.
Making a Love List could be a way to share that person’s spirit with someone else. Maybe there is someone else in your family who is also grieving and would be warmed by reading your list about your Dad.
- It can double as a touchstone.
You could make a copy of the list and leave it for your Gramma someplace. Maybe a place you always visited together. Or plant it in the yard under a flowering bush. Or mail it to a city she always wanted to visit.
As I was thinking about this article, I posted to my Simply Celebrate community asking if anyone wanted to share their experience of making a Love List for someone who had died. Shannon Louks responded right away and she shared a beautiful Love List poem she had written for her father one Father’s Day years after he had passed away.
Shannon said, “It was pretty typical for me to write my dad a Father’s Day poem expressing all the ways I loved him when he was alive. For years after he died, I was heartsick to not be able to call him on Father’s Day. Then one year I realized I could release the words from my heart to once again feel that connection between the two of us. It was as much a gift for myself as it was for his memory.”
Shannon’s choice to continue writing her Father about the ways she loves him is so powerful and life-affirming.
If you’ve experienced a death of someone you love, I hope you might try your hand at making a Love List and see what the experience is like. You can even invite other people who love that person to join you. Maybe sit around a table together, sipping your loved one’s favorite drink of choice or eating cookies he always loved best. Let everyone chime in with things they love and you can write them down or record them on audio.
Keep me posted if you decide to create one, okay? I want to know what your experience is like.
Here’s to keeping the spirit and joy of the people we love ever alive!