Several years ago I co-facilitated a caregiver support group with David and another couple who cared for her mother in their home. When we started the group, we planned programs and invited speakers, but we soon learned that what the caregivers needed most was a safe place to talk. Even so, each week I began with a short devotional or reading to focus the discussion and avoid the chaos that can result when all the hurts and resentments bubble up at once. One of our more successful evenings was when we talked about tributes.
To begin the evening I passed out copies of an article written by Stephen C. Weber giving tips on how to write a tribute. I apologize to Mr. Weber for not giving a link, but that before I became a blogger, and I didn’t save my source:
Stephen C. Weber
Written tributes are wonderful ways of expressing our love and appreciation to those we value. I especially feel that this applies to our parents and is a wonderful way to demonstrate the Biblical commandment to “honor.” For many years I have also written tributes to others who have had an impact on my life and I do so in my daily encouragement ministry whenever a person who has been significant to me passes on.My interest in this was spurred on in the early nineties by an excellent book by Dennis Rainey “The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents” which is an excellent guide for preparing a tribute.
SIMPLE TIPS ON WRITING AND PREPARING A TRIBUTE:
Write a very personal expression of thankfulness using specific traits and recollections. For instance, if it is for your mother this is not a general tribute to motherhood, but a very personal expression of tribute to your mother.
Let the writing reflect you. Don’t stumble over, “I’m not a writer.” However, do take the time to edit carefully, getting some proofreading and formatting help if necessary.
Some of you have pain from your childhood and will find this very difficult for that reason. Can you focus on some positive aspects of your upbringing?
Carefully format in as large a font as possible for the size of paper you are using. Experiment with color but don’t use too much. You may be able to place in a photo.
Print out on a good printer in the best resolution on attractive paper.
Consider framing and using a mat if possible. With matting a tribute printed on 8.5×11 paper can be placed in a 11×14 frame, which is a dignified size.
Don’t procrastinate. You will not be sorry you did this.
A tribute is most meaningful of course when delivered while the recipient is still living.
Hand deliver it if at all possible and perhaps at a special moment such as a dinner out. However a tribute written after death can still be meaningful to others.
As Mr. Weber says, some of the purposes of a tribute are to say thank you and to honor the person about whom you’re writing. But one of the most valuable aspects of the exercise for the caregiver is to be able to focus on the more positive aspects of your loved one, to remember the person they were before age and infirmity and dementia turned them into the angry, messy, uncooperative patient you deal with every day.
During subsequent meetings, several caregivers chose to share their tributes with the group rather than with their loved one who would no longer understand it. One lady wrote a particular moving tribute and read it at her mother’s funeral when the time came. Regardless of what they did with their tributes, those who wrote them seemed to feel a sense of release and a kind of closure in putting their feelings into words. I can attest to healing power of writing. Many of my posts are tributes in one way or another to those I love. Here a few examples:
- I Miss Mom When I Pray | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)
- Bringing Alzheimer’s Out of the Closet | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)
- Celebrating Caregivers | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)