Remembering Your Loved One
Ideas to incorporate a lost one’s memory this season
While nothing can replace the physical presence of someone you hold dear, a special remembrance can honor them and remind you of their love during a time you need it most. Some ideas can include:
Delegate a “memory box” for family and friends to contribute written memories, photos or objects that can be read and examined during your holiday celebration together. While it most certainly will elicit tears, it can be a powerfully poignant experience that may help make it easier to allow the presence of your loved one to join you.
Another way to honor your loved one is to make a variety of dishes and desserts that they loved, and make it your holiday meal. Don’t worry about complementary tastes or cohesiveness! Family members and friends may even have a story behind each dish, opening up communication so that grief doesn’t get bottled up.
Light a Candle
A simple but meaningful way to honor a lost loved one is lighting a candle in their honor, and if appropriate, reciting a prayer or poem with other family members or friends during your get-together. Sometimes just a visual reminder of a shining light can help you feel that they’re right there beside you.
Honor your memories
Reflect on the role that your lost loved one played in your holiday celebrations, and find a way to honor them in private moments or at a gathering of those who also share fond memories. Did your grandma make a special dish that everyone enjoyed? Consider printing it on a recipe card, or getting her handwritten recipe etched on a cutting board or dish (check Etsy for some beautiful options). Did dad always read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve night? Assign someone to take on that role, or display the book on the mantel or near a seat that he would sit in to read it.
Do something charitable
In lieu of a gift that you would normally give to someone you have lost, it may ease some pain to use that money to donate to a charity that you associate with your loved one. Similarly, contributing your time by volunteering at a local shelter or charitable association can help you see the power of a helping hand during hard times.
Ask for help
Extra emphasis for those in the back: You. Are. Not. Alone. This may be frustrating to read for many who are grieving who feel like the calls, texts, visits and casseroles began to dissipate shortly after the memorial service, as this can feel like abandonment. Rather than assuming friends and family no longer care about your situation and have lost interest in your needs, realize that many good-intentioned people feel like giving someone space to grieve is appropriate. And that may be. But for those that want less space and more…anything (e.g., help, chats, hugs, grocery runs, babysitting services, etc.), don’t be afraid to ask. Chances are, there are many people in your life that would jump at the chance to be there for you.
Advice to friends of those grieving…
With the holidays quickly approaching, it is not atypical for those who are grieving to experience feelings of anxiety, dread and despondency, especially if it’s the “first” after a loved one’s passing. It may be hard to understand what they’re going through, so consider the following guidelines:
- Include them in all gatherings via invitation, but don’t push or guilt them if they turn it down.
- Be as present as you can, even if it’s sending a simple message letting them know you’re thinking of them, or a funny gif that may bring a smile to their face.
- Offer practical sources of help, such as offering to do some holiday shopping, wrapping gifts or watching their children.
- Listen. And don’t offer advice unless it’s clear that it’s wanted.
- Don’t disappear. One day you may want to lean on them in the way they need you now.