Explore the nature of your relationship with your parent, focusing on the most important or challenging aspects. It also helps to talk or write about your parent's perception of you. How did your parent's understanding of you differ from, or coincide with, the understanding you have of yourself? How did that affect you? You may even like to express your fears, yearnings, or anxieties to a photograph of your parent. You can say things you wish you had said before the death, explain your actions or views, affirm your love, confide your less than positive thoughts. Seeking release in this way is perfectly acceptable and not unusual during the first year or so of the grieving process.

Second, you may find it calming and reassuring to keep a physical reminder of your mother or father near you. Any item that was integral to your parent's life or was especially important to him or her will suffice--a pin, a watch, a hairbrush, a letter, a shirt or robe. It will serve not only as a personal treasure but as tangible proof of your parent's individuality and attachments. At first, the selected object or article of clothing is an inanimate "companion" during grief, even a talisman, a comfort; later it becomes something which may be used to prompt a vibrant memory of a parent, to bring him or her back quickly and clearly.

Third, memorializing your parent in a special way is comforting. You may, for example, make a tape recording or video of memories in which you and others share stories, anecdotes or observations about your mother or father. Or you may choose to write a journal about your parent's life, including accomplishments, values, goals, background, wishes, mannerisms--anything and everything that is significant to you.

Fourth, think about what to keep and what to give away, not just of your parent's possessions but of your parent's beliefs, personality traits, habits, skills, aims, loves. Which of those will continue to reside in you? Which ones will you nurture? Which bring you less peace and comfort and can be let go? Through you, parts of your parent's individuality and influence can thread through each day ahead, each year, adding to the tapestry of your life and the lives that follow yours. In that dedicated way, your parent will never die.