August 30, 2022

How ‘Transitional Objects’ Can Help Us Process Grief

A worn-in sweatshirt, heirloom jewelry, or even a discontinued Victoria’s Secret body spray can help us cope with the loss of a loved one — and keep their memory alive.

After her mom died, Austin D’Anna, a 27-year-old sales manager in Columbus, Ohio, was sorting through her belongings when she came across her mom’s wedding band (it had been put on a keychain after her parents’ divorce). D’Anna immediately put on the gold band, which was made from melted gold from D’Anna’s maternal grandmother’s jewelry, and wore it every day for the next three years.

“I swore that that ring acted as my ‘guardian angel.’ I can’t explain it, but I felt infinitely more safe, lucky, prosperous, etc. once I started wearing that ring … The ring gave me peace. All I had to do was look down at my hand and I knew she was there, helping through my latest quarrel, interview, audition,” says D’Anna.