Vickie Mears
director of grief support services
Crossroads Hospice
Kansas City

To the editor:
July is National Family Reunion Month, a reflection of the popularity of family get-togethers. In fact the majority of Americans – 62 percent – will attend an annual family reunion sometime this year.

These get-togethers can be bittersweet, as recently passed family members are there only in spirit. Yet they also offer the opportunity to honor their memories and celebrate their impact on our lives.

Simple gestures often work the best. Say a prayer or have a moment of silence honoring those passed away. Create a photomontage of loved ones. Sit and tell funny and touching stories. Take up a collection and make a donation in that person’s honor to an organization like a local Alzheimer’s Association or Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate.

These special reunion moments do more than just honor those no longer with us. They help us cope with the pain of loss and further the healing process. More importantly, they keep their spirits alive and pass on a family’s heritage to younger generations. They create a stronger family bond that cannot be broken by distance or time, which is really what reunions are all about.

So as your extended family gathers to catch up and stay connected, take the time to remember those who are there only in spirit. You’ll help with the healing today, while creating a family tradition for tomorrow.