Lifestyles Book Review: Passed & Present

By Allison Gilbert

Passed and Present is not a new book about sadness and grieving. It is about happiness and remembering. The book is a one-of-a-kind guide for discovering creative and meaningful ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive. My goal from the start has been to share exciting opportunities for honoring and celebrating those we miss most, no matter how long they have been gone.

I wrote Passed and Present because it is just the kind of roadmap I needed after my loved ones passed away. Readers will learn how to meaningfully repurpose inherited items such as jewelry, clothing, photographs, letters, and other mementos, and they will come to appreciate how technology — smartphones, scanners, apps, websites, and more— can be used to integrate a loved one’s memory into our daily, digital lives.

One of my favorite chapters focuses on travel. Destinations lure you around the world—from Japan to Mexico, from The Bahamas to Israel—to cities and towns where reflecting and honoring loved ones is a communal activity. I call this notion Commemorative Travel. Following each location, I include a section called Bring it Home, offering additional sites to discover in the United States — as well as ways to incorporate aspects of meaningful foreign traditions into your practices at home in New York City.

This book was important for me to write because grief experts have long said taking proactive steps to remember loved ones is essential to healing – yet no book had ever focused exclusively on concrete ideas for doing so. It was critical for me to fill this remarkable void. Remembering is key to happiness. It is the essential springboard.

That enables us to celebrate loved ones who have passed while enthusiastically, unreservedly, and joyously embracing our present.

The book I am reading right now is Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s, The Ramblers. It’s the perfect book for New Yorkers! Scenes unfold in Central Park, Greenwich Village, and across the Upper West Side. The novel unfolds during the course of one week, over Thanksgiving.

I picked up The Ramblers after hearing Rowley give a terrific reading at Book Culture on Columbus. Book Culture is a lovely independent bookstore located between 80th-81st streets, and it holds delightful events for readers to meet and engage with writers. The store was packed that night and I was thrilled I got to hear Rowley speak on all aspects of writing her latest book – how she developed the plot; her inspiration for the characters; and why she felt so compelled to reveal the entire story over one week. As a writer, I adore hearing how other writers approach their work.

My interest in Rowley’s new book, and her previous novel, Life After Yes, began because I am a personal fan of her Happier Hours Literary Salons. These intimate gatherings provide unrivaled opportunities for authors to connect with readers and engage in substantive discussion. Every salon is a chance to connect with other women, talk about important and timely topics, and be inspired. Happier Hours have become so popular there is now a series in Los Angeles.

Passed and Present is published by Seal Press (ISBN 978-1580056120) and available for purchase both online and in book stores.

Allison Gilbert