There's no way around it - after someone important dies the holidays are never the same again. Traditions, events, parties, songs, movies – the grief triggers are everywhere. Avoidance and denial are popular coping tactics, but we suggest a different approach - find ways to keep your loved one's memory alive during the holiday season. If you need a little inspiration, here are 19 ways to remember loved ones over the holidays (and every day).
19 Ways to Remember Loved Ones During the Holidays:
1. Photos: Display old photo albums in a location accessible to holiday visitors. People can’t resist a well-placed photo album. Before you know it you’ll be reminiscing and telling stories with family and friends. Are all of your photos digital? Make an album featuring your loved one. After you finish or receive your album, you might want to share it with others who would appreciate the photos.
2. Get out the old home videos: Yes, you may get emotional, but it's also comforting to see your loved one up on the TV screen. Again, this is a great opportunity for storytelling and reminiscing. If your anything like me you may also end up in stitches over the ridiculous outfit you wore to Thanksgiving in ’01.
3. Belongings: After a loss, it can be hard to part with your loved one's belongings. The holidays present the perfect opportunity to give away some of these things, especially if you are someone who always wants to make sure that old treasures go to good homes. Wrap up a few of your loved one’s old things and give them to family and friends who will appreciate them. Write a card letting the recipient of the gift know why you chose to give them this particular item. I guarantee you they will adore the gift and the sentiment.
4. Create a special place for people to write down memories: Put out a marker and paper or write memories on plain wooden ornaments. Friends and family can hang the ornaments or leave the memories in an old stocking or empty gift box. When everyone is gathered together, read the memories aloud.
5. Donate to a cause in your loved one's name: Try and choose a charity your loved one would have supported. During the holidays, churches and places of worship, local food pantries, homeless shelters, soldiers and their families, nursing homes, and 'Toys for Tots’ are all very active.
6. Buy a gift: When you see a gift your loved one would have liked, go ahead and buy it. Donate it to a charity or give it to someone as a gift.
7. Cards: It may be too difficult to send out the annual family holiday cards. Don’t feel guilty.
8. Volunteer your time to others in need: You might choose a cause your loved one worked with or supported. If your feeling lonely, try a retirement home where you can sit and talk to those you are helping.
9. Light a candle in honor of your loved one: Leave it burning during days when you think you’ll miss them the most.
10. Donate: your loved one's old coats to onewarmcoat.org
11. Set a place for your loved one at the dinner table: Would it be too hard to see the seat left empty? Invite someone from your loved ones past to dinner.
12. Invite your family and friends to a holiday potluck: Ask guests to make a dish that your loved one liked. It definitely doesn't have to be a normal holiday dish - just a table full of all sorts of food that your loved one loved!
13. Buy or make a memorial ornament.
14. Use your loved one’s old recipe(s) to make holiday cookies or a holiday dinner.
15. Send a holiday card to someone from your loved ones past who they may have lost touch with.
16. Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one. You could also spend time watching their favorite holiday movies or listening to their favorite holiday songs.
17. Take the trip you have been planning or dreaming about.
18. Give a framed photo of your loved one to people who also miss them.
19. Take care of yourself: Attend a workshop or support group for people dealing with a loss during the holidays. Remember that your loved one would have wanted you to have the support you need.
Have you already thought of ways to incorporate your loved one into your holidays, celebrations, or just everyday life? Comment below to share your ideas with other readers.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: