In 2008, while clearing out her grandparents' basement in preparation to sell their home, a 26 year old Rachael stumbles upon a trove of forgotten letters. In them, she uncovers family secrets that have been hidden for over 40 years.
After losing her grandparents and her mother, this is Rachael's advice to anyone dealing with loss: "Talk to people about your grief and your family stories."
"Don't put that off, even if it's uncomfortable. Grief is very personal, but as soon as you can, if it's possible, share it with other people. Share the stories, share your thoughts, and don't let it become something that's buried - that's not healthy for anyone. I've been thinking about doing something similar to the Day of The Dead to celebrate my mom once a year. I want to make sure that there's a designated day that I talk about her. Otherwise you might not, you might not talk about your mom that passed away, you may not talk about your baby that passed away at 5 months. These are important stories and it's not healthy to keep them bottled up. When you talk about them, there's a certain relief that comes out. When you don't talk about them, it feels like a secret that you're bottling up and you don't get to share that part of you. You don't get to let that part of you out.
There's also a lot of joy as well when you get to talk about someone that has passed away. It's not just about the grief, it's also about remembering that person that has suddenly disappeared. Otherwise, you don't get to share that part of your life, that part of that person. It's devastating and I don't think people think much about that part of it as much!"
Author Rachael Rifkin is a personal historian and ghostwriter who helps people save their life - family stories and a freelance journalist whose photo project was highlighted on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and the Jewish Journal.
Samples of her lovely writing can be found here. Rachael has also helped organize several Human Libraries, and is always interested in working on projects that create community, awareness, and unexpected results.
Visit Rachael at www.lifestoriestoday.com.
Jill Shackner is an actor, singer, voiceover artist, and announcer. Some might say she's a Jill-Of-All-Trades.
Jill has stared in films such as Paper Man, Staring At The Sun, Eugenia and John and House of D. She's also been featured in Broadway hits such as Les Miserables as well as multiple Off-Broadway hits like Safe, Landscape Of The Body, Stand Tall and more.
Jill is a graduate from Barnard College and is fluent in French, Guitar, Piano and Baton. She regularly performs the U.S National Anthem as well as the Canadian Anthem. Visit Jill at www.jillshackner.com
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