If you’re like me, you can’t believe the holidays are here. Between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and the spontaneous fits of tears sparked by grief triggers everywhere, it can be easy to avoid planning for things like memorializing loved ones. We have tons of ideas about planning for the holiday and for creating and adapting traditions. Today we want to give you just a few quick and easy ideas for remembering those no longer with us this holiday. Don’t worry, these are all things that can be done on short notice and with minimal planning. If you want a more comprehensive list of ideas for memorializing loved ones that involve a bit more planning, you can check out this post. As always, we welcome your additional ideas in the comments!
If hanging stockings is part of your holiday tradition, it can be hard to know what to do when a loved one has died. Do you hang it? Do you not hang it? Either way, there is a good chance some family members will disagree on whether this is the ‘right’ way to memorialize loved ones. One option is to hang the stocking with a purpose. The stocking can be a place for people to share thoughts and memories. The set up is simple – wherever you hang your loved one’s stocking, put out some paper and a pen. Invite people to write their favorite holiday memory and place it in the stocking. Depending on what you and your family are comfortable with, you can spend some time at the end of the holiday reading these together as a family. If your family is more private, you can invite people to read them on their own or not read them at all.
Eleanor’s family came up with this great idea of putting out an album with photos of past holidays with a loved one who has died, with space for people to write their memories and reflections. This can sit out for people to look at photos, read, and write at their leisure. It offers a lot of flexibility for all different types of grievers. People may simply look at the photos or take the time to share or they can ignore the album altogether if that makes them more comfortable getting through the day!
Make a Dish They Made or Loved
Whether it was their famous holiday cookies or the green bean casserole that was their favorite part of the holiday meal, food can be a great way to keep memories and connections alive. It is important with this one, especially if you are recreating their recipe, to cut yourself some slack. It may not come out exactly the way theirs did, especially the first time around. If you’re like me, you may plan to make your grandmother’s holiday cookies and then totally flake and not do it at all (don’t worry, I wrote about that here). Don’t hold back if their favorite food isn’t a holiday staple — if they loved fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there is no reason that can’t become part of your holiday tradition!
Make Grief Memory Ornaments
Making ornaments can seem like a big project or something to plan in advance. But there are plenty of easy options. If you are feeling like you haven’t incorporated your loved one into the holiday but don’t want to incorporate something collaborative, a simple photo ornament or photo at/near the holiday table can be a nice way to make your loved one’s memory feel more part of the day. If you do want to involve others, buying some simple, clear ornaments with strips of paper or paper ribbon and pens can offer a way for people to write thoughts, reflections, or memories. Leave out the strips of paper/paper ribbon (different colors works well) and pens. Invite people to write their feelings, memories, words to their loved one, or anything else they choose on the ribbons. They can then place the ribbons in the ornaments, seal it up, and hang them on a tree or elsewhere in the house.
Looking For More Support?
We have tons of other posts in our holidays and special days section of the website, both about memorializing loved ones and general coping this holiday season. You can also watch the recording of our Facebook Live on coping with the holidays:
Don’t forget to leave a comment with your easy, last-minute tips to remember your loved one in your holiday traditions! If you haven’t taken in already, we have a FREE ecourse with some ideas of getting through the holidays. Check it out:
And, as always, subscribe to get our posts right to your email.