Our guest today is Meryl Ain, co-author of the non-fiction book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last. Meryl wrote her first poem in the third grade and has been writing ever since. She is a blogger for Huffington Post and often writes about families, parenting, children, and education. After she lost both her father and mother within a year-and-a-half, she decided to research how others keep alive the memories of their loved ones. She enlisted her husband, Stewart, and her brother, Arthur Fischman, to join her in researching and writing The Living Memories Project, http://thelivingmemoriesproject.com/. Meryl earned a BA from QueensCollege, a MA from ColumbiaUniversityTeachers College, and an Ed.D. from HofstraUniversity. She began her career in education as a social studies teacher before she became an administrator. She and her husband Stewart live on Long Island and have three sons, three daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.
Her latest book she co-authored with Steward Ain and Arthur M. Fischman is the nonfiction, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last.
Visit their website at www.thelivingmemoriesproject.com.
When my mother died after a brief illness in 2006, I was bereft.
Although I knew she had lived a long life, there is never enough time with a loved one. In thinking about how best to remember my mother, I recalled advice she gave me more than once, “Get yourself a project.” So I decided to write a book — interviewing people about how they keep alive the memories of their loved ones. In doing so, I was hoping to get ideas to help heal myself.
I enlisted the support of my husband, Stewart, and my brother, Arthur, to research and write the book. Together we captured the stories of 32 individuals who created tributes – big and small – as living memorials. The project proved to be therapeutic and cathartic; not only did it give us wonderful material, but it turned into an inspiring book and an amazing tribute to my mom.
Would you consider your latest book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last to be a one of a kind? How so?
Absolutely. When I was grieving, I searched for a book that would provide me with hope, comfort, and inspire me to action. The books I found discussed the stages of grieving, and the feelings associated with them, but they did not provide me with what I was looking for. I believe our book is unique. It begins with the notion that there is no such thing as closure. Those we love are with us forever, although they are not physically present. Through the stories of those we interviewed, we learn many different ways to keep alive the memories, passions, values, and traditions of our loved ones.
What inspires you?
The 32 people we interviewed for our book inspire me. They all transformed their grief into meaningful action and living legacies. For example, Liz and Steve Alderman established the Peter C. Alderman Foundation to honor the memory of their 25-year-old son, who was killed on 9/11 at the WorldTradeCenter. The foundation trains doctors and establishes mental health clinics on four continents to treat victims of PTSD.
What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?
I learned that there is a tremendous thirst to speak about grief, loss, and death in our society that is not being met. We have been truly gratified that so many people have told us that The Living Memories Project is exactly the book that helped them move beyond mourning, and that they welcome participating in discussion about the topic. People tell us that they appreciate its upbeat and hopeful approach. All of our events have been well attended, and people have used words such as “uplifting” and “enjoyable” to describe them. We recently had an event where singer/songwriter Jen Chapin, the daughter of folk rock icon Harry Chapin, spoke about how she carries on her father’s legacy of music and eradicating hunger. We are glad that we have enabled people to confront and discuss these issues, using our book as a catalyst.
What’s next for you?
We hope to do a sequel. We are asking our readers to share their own stories of how they keep the memory of their loved ones alive on our website, http://thelivingmemoriesproject.com/