A gift for me: Keeping your loved one in your everyday life

  • Susan Anderson-Khleif bought some cute "Rooster Tables" at an estate sale. She considers them a present from her husband Baheej, who died six years ago.

    Susan Anderson-Khleif bought some cute "Rooster Tables" at an estate sale. She considers them a present from her husband Baheej, who died six years ago. Courtesy of Susan Anderson-Khleif

Updated 1/14/2019 8:57 AM

A nice little trick to keep a loved person in your life is to let them "give" you a gift from time to time.

A little fantasy can go a long way. It sounds like a childish game, but it works for adults.

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Recently I sent one of my email "updates" to friends and family about what's going on around here, and I mentioned that I bought some cute "Rooster Tables" at an estate sale. And I added that I considered them a present from my dear husband Baheej, who died six years ago. ""Baheej got them for me," I said.

I was surprised and comforted to hear from a friend who does the same thing! She needed and bought a new lawn mower, then told another friend that "my husband wanted me to have it." Her other friend does the same thing! When she gets something special for herself, she says it's from her husband whom she lost years ago.

This is a comforting practice, whether a spouse, parent, sibling or friend.

The first year or two after death is so intense that you don't have time or peace of mind to think of how to ease your own grief. All is so upside-down, everything has changed, but you may still be able to think about some of the ideas below.

Such innocent little deceptions about gifts are just one of the many ways you can keep your loved one in your daily life and included on special occasions. The gift idea heads the list, but there are others:


• Give a gift to yourself from your absent loved one. It's sort of a spiritual act.

• Cook one of his/her favorite dishes

• Watch their favorite movies

• Read one of his/her favorite novels or book of poems. My grandmother loved "Leaves of Grass" and so I keep a copy around. I had no idea she was attracted to the transcendental.

• Wear his or her scarf, or ring, favorite color.

• Go to one of his/her favorite places or restaurants

• Play favorite music in your house or apartment.

The point is -- some of the comforting actions you can take to soften grief are simple, practical, everyday activities or thoughts.

Baheej loved roosters and chickens, but the village forbade them. So I figure he got me some rooster tables!

It's OK and many other people have found out such little imaginations help and can even make you smile and enjoy.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a Ph.D. in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at sakhleif@comcast.net or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan/.

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