Notes on writing a remembrance
The prompts below are ideas and starting points to write a remembrance of someone you love who is no longer present. You may choose to work through all of these prompts or just choose the one that appeals most. First, find a quiet moment when you're unlikely to be interrupted. Second, gather pen and paper to write longhand or use a computer - whatever feels right to you. Finally, it can be helpful to use a timer and decide in advance how long you will write for (ie. 20 or 30 minutes). Use these prompts as gentle invitations to a confronting space. Writing a remembrance asks for compassion and for the time and space to actively and privately contemplate loss in your life.
I’m an artist based on Gubbi Gubbi land in south east Queensland, Australia. My work explores loss and asks what it is to remember well, the gifts we carry from those who are no longer present. When loss first entered my life, it was a shock. Nothing prepared me for the destruction of identity and loss of safety and meaning. I became aware of how hard it is to talk about loss without feeling like a burden, how hard it is to share stories of someone important to me with another human being, and how so few could hold a warm space of acknowledging sadness and uncertainty without presenting solutions. I also became aware I lack role models of people who know how to share meaningful stories of those they have loved who have died. My work investigates how we may be enriched by remembering out loud and speaking the gifts we've been given by those who have touched our lives. Even though conversations, spaces and practices like this are hard, for me they are ultimately life-affirming, strengthening and connecting. I invite you to join me in the hope it will be for you too.
Write a letter to me or a good friend
We may have never met but if you're reading this, you and I are connected in the universal experience of loss. You might like to start your remembrance with "Dear Mira,". Alternatively, write your letter to a good friend - someone you trust, someone who's good at listening.
Start with the prompt, "I remember..." and see what comes. Ask yourself if there's a particular memory that moves you when you think of it. Be specific and paint a picture with your words.
"Because of _______, I..."
Write your remembrance focusing on what this person meant to you. Use the prompts "Because of (NAME), I.... " or Because of (NAME), I carry...." What gift or gifts are alive inside of you because of this person and because of the experiences you shared with them? (for example, "Because of my father, I have a deep love of reading and learning and stimulating discussions.")
Stream of consciousness
Gather pen and paper or work on a computer if you prefer. Choose a prompt from the list below and set a timer for ten minutes. Let the words flow, stream of consciousness style. If the words stop coming, write the prompt again and keep going. No censoring, editing or refining yet, just keep the pen moving. Then later, come back and see what jumps out and speaks most clearly to you from what you've written. Edit and craft your remembrance from this raw material.
"In silence I..."
Write a letter to the person
Consider writing your remembrance as a letter addressed to the person who has died. You may also share with the person the ways you have changed because of them with the prompts, "Because of you, I.... " or Because of you, I carry...."
Biography and eulogy
You may like to focus on biographical details of your loved one's life as in a eulogy. Who were they? What did they value most? How did they live their life? What inspired you about the choices they made?