When my sister-in-law died, many family members were with her in those final moments. To honor and remember her, we like to gather together every year around that anniversary. Usually, my husband’s brothers and their families pile into our house for a weekend of fellowship. We tell stories about Claire, talk to our kids about her, and reflect on how thankful we were to have had her in our lives. — Nikki Shaw, Development and Events Manager

For our family, birthdays and holidays always mark a time to remember our loved ones with fun stories and memories. I share a birthday with my grandfather whom I was very close to until he passed away in the last few years. So for me, that day can still be difficult and bittersweet but a great day to remember all the special moments we shared together fishing, working in the yard, watching TV, playing cards, or him letting me paint his nails and do his hair when I was little. Other memories pop up suddenly, usually with an unexpected song or at an opportunity to share a grandpa joke, like when going over a railroad crossing “Train just went by, know how you can tell?  It left its tracks.”Melanie Frank, Board Chairperson

When my grandmother died, many family members were present but some were not. Our family members from all over gathered on a Skype call to celebrate, remember, and share stories and heartwarming anecdotes about her life and our memories. I remember fondly this two hour long call and what it felt like to honor her even though the whole family couldn’t be together. As the years have passed, I share some of these stories and memories with my own family in hopes that her legacy and memory will live on in them. — Britt Cowart, Grief Services Director

My dad’s birthday and the anniversary of his death are within a week of each other. I’ve found I prefer two different ways to remember and celebrate him. On his birthday, I remember with my family doing a few of his favorite things – taking a walk while sharing stories and enjoying some breakfast sweets. On the anniversary, I prefer to remember him on my own looking through pictures and family videos as well as listening to music that reminds me of him. Celebrating in two different ways gives me a balance of what I need to honor him and the amazing impact he continues to have on my life.  — Allison Schooley, Practice Manager

I best remember loved ones by giving back to others. Through my pain and grief, I found a path to helping others on their journey. Although I fully recognize that I do not have the power to take away someone’s pain or grief, I have found that if I can sit with them on their journey, they will know that they are not facing this most difficult time alone. — Melissa Weaver, Therapist and Group Leader

As a family, we place a pink candle in one window every Christmas to remember a special little girl who touched our lives. Pink was her favorite color! — Genevieve Bradshaw, Forensic Nurse and Full Circle Donor

We lost my brother-in-law on August 21, 1998. My husband and I had just gotten married earlier that year and had just gotten back from my husband’s annual family vacation in Myrtle Beach where we were with him, his wife and family as well as my husband’s other family members. We still remember him on the day we lost him and on every holiday. Most importantly, we always remember the last time we were all together in Myrtle Beach and that the last thing we said and did was to say “love you” and gave each other big hugs. As a family, we make sure to say “love you” when we are getting off the phone or when one of us is leaving because it is nice to have that as a last memory with my brother-in-law. — Shannon Venable, Board Member

Our daughter, Logan, died on November 28, 2017. Each year on November 28th, our family goes to the grocery store to anonymously pay for one of the birthday cakes ordered by another family. We find this to be a very healing experience. Even though Logan will not be blowing out her candles with us, we celebrate her life by bringing joy to others. Someone celebrated their birthday with a delicious cake in memory of our sweet girl. — Jillian and Adam Carpenter, PLG Group Participants and Board Member

A special way I like to hold onto a loved one’s memory is by creating a pillow, blanket, or even a teddy bear out of a loved one’s clothing, or something special that belonged to them, that can easily be held onto for comfort and support in times of need. — Heather Cole, Therapist

Our son Theo died of a brain tumor February 20, 2006. We remember him by doing acts of kindness for others anonymously. We particularly do this at Christmastime, and we ask our family members and close friends to acts of kindness in his memory as well. The first few years in grief, other people’s kindnesses in his honor helped us so much to get through the painful holiday season. — Karla Helbert, LPC, former FC Board Member, author, and national bereavement expert

My mom always hosted Thanksgiving for her entire family.  Since she died in 2018, my dad and I have continued this tradition, knowing that this time of celebration and family was so important to her. Each year, I create a centerpiece for the table in her memory, including shells, sand dollars, candles, and Willow Tree angel figurines…i.e. things that she loved. This small act makes us feel like we are celebrating her as a new part of our tradition. — Allyson England Drake, Executive Director

In memory of my dad who died from cancer, I have raised over $6,000 the past two years for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. — Field Sydnor Witt, Full Circle Donor

Thank you to our staff, board members, and community members for sharing ways you remember your loved ones. How do you remember and honor your loved ones? Please share your story with us by emailing dana@fullcirclegc.org.