Allison Gilbert is an Emmy award-winning producer, author and public speaker. She has published several books about grief and loss, and has spoken extensively about the subject. When Allison is not interviewing Arianna Huffington, Soledad O’Brien, and others on grief and recovery, she is working on her own innovative work in the field of bereavement. We sat down with Allison to ask about her life, methods, and the future of bereavement in America.
You’re an Emmy award-winning TV producer. What inspired you to start writing about grief?
My mother died when I was 25 and my father passed away a few years later. Losing my parents at such a relatively young age was devastating. It was challenging to navigate my burgeoning adult life without their guidance and support. I loved my career as a journalist and was enthusiastically married to my best friend, but I felt unmoored. I started reading a lot of books about grief and thought I could add to the literature. There wasn’t enough written about how to keep the memories of loved ones alive. I had something to say about that.
Do you see death & grieving practices changing today? If so, how and what are the biggest changes you’ve noticed over the years?
Yes, I really do. We are so much more accepting of public conversation about death and grieving. In the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in resources. Consider these amazing platforms – Modern Loss, Death Over Dinner, The Dinner Party, What’s Your Grief, and of course, TalkDeath. I also launched a grief & resilience blog featuring interviews with such luminaries as Arianna Huffington, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Soledad O’Brien. These outlets provide private and collective places to grieve and very importantly, heal.
I’ve come to realize over time that remembering loved ones is essential for healing, and individuals and families can take advantage of both intimate and social opportunities for keeping memories alive. One great opportunity for celebrating loved ones who’ve passed away is to work with Legacy Republic, the only company in the world with a team of professionals who provide memory-preservation celebrations in homes, offices, and community centers. As the initiative’s Executive Family & Memories Editor, I’ve digitized numerous home videos and photographs of my parents. Ensuring these memories are preserved helps my children embrace the grandparents they never got to know.
What is a Memory Bash™?
A Memory Bash™ is an excuse to get together as a group — eating, drinking, and having a great time — while celebrating loved ones who have passed away in the company of others drawn to do the same. It’s a joyful, innovative concept I write about in my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive. Click here to watch a Memory Bash Video. Click here to see photos of a Memory Bash™.
I host Memory Bash events all over the country. If you’d like me to run one for you, please get in touch. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love to hear from you!
How did covering 9/11 influence the work that you do?
September 11th changed everything for me. I slowly began to pivot from being a TV producer to becoming an author. I find this work incredibly meaningful and gratifying.
What lessons can we learn from national tragedies such as September 11th or Sandy Hook?
That healing endures when we lean on each other.
What message of hope would you give to someone who has just experienced a loss?
Absence and presence can coexist. You can move forward, live a rich and joyful life, without leaving your loved one behind. But you must take action. Your must decide be proactive about keeping your loved one’s memory alive. The ideas and strategies in Passed and Present can help.
About Allison Gilbert:
Allison Gilbert is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on grief and resilience. The author of numerous books including the groundbreaking, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, her stirring work exposes the secret and essential factor for harnessing loss to drive happiness, spark creativity, and rebound from adversity. Allison Gilbert is a sought-after expert on grief, loss, resilience, cancer prevention, and September 11, appearing on Today, CNN, and MSNBC. You can read more about Allison Gilbert Here.