Whether you lost a loved one recently or it’s been several years, the holidays can be an especially painful time for processing grief. It’s completely normal to struggle with this! Finding ways to remember lost loved ones during the holidays and to incorporate their memory into your celebration can help. Here are just a few ways that you can remember your lost loved ones during the holidays this year.
Set a place at the table
Setting a place at the table for your holiday dinner or at other festivities can be a nice way to remember your loved ones. This can also help if you’re feeling guilty about celebrating the holidays without them.
If you have photographs of your loved one, you can display them as a consistent reminder. A photo ornament on your Christmas tree could be a lovely touch. Or, you could even give a framed photograph to someone else who is struggling with this loss.
If this was a fairly recent loss, you might consider donating some items that belonged to your loved one to a good cause. If you don’t have any of their belongings or you’re not comfortable parting with them, you could donate financially or by volunteering with a favourite charity in their name.
A similar idea that I really like is donating a copy of your loved one’s favourite book to a library or other good cause. I’ve always believed that you can learn a lot about a person from their favourite books, so this one seems especially poignant.
Light a candle
Lighting a candle in memory of your loved one can be very therapeutic. You could even find a scent that you associate with your loved one, or with a memory the two of you shared.
Create a signal
What’s Your Grief has a wonderful idea in creating a “secret signal” for you and yours to share when something reminds you of the one you’ve lost. This is a remembrance that can be incorporated year-round!
Talk about him/her
Talking about the good times you shared or the great memories you have of your loved one is a great way to remember them. Reminisce with a friend or family member, or journal about it if you’d prefer.
Cook something special
Did your loved one have a favourite dish? Did he/she have a signature recipe? Incorporate something special into your holiday meal or other festivities.
Sing their favourite songs
If your loved one had a favourite Christmas carol or other holiday song, you could incorporate it into your own celebration. Even a song completely unrelated to the season could be brought into it for this reason. What’s important is that it’s special to you!
Memorialise your loved one
You could make a collage, scrapbook, or photo book of your favourite photos of/with them. Or, you could make yourself a sort of “time capsule” filled with memories. You could even have a book, bench, tree, or other memorial object dedicated to them.
Decorate their gravesite
If you can visit their resting place and are allowed to place things there, you could add some holiday flowers or other decoration to it. Or, you could go “visit” and talk to your loved one about the holidays and what you’re feeling.
Celebrate as he/she would have
Did your loved one have a favourite holiday song, film, or tradition? Make sure that this lives on by incorporating it into your own celebration.
Celebrate a service in their honour
If you’re a religious person, see if your place of worship offers a holiday memorial service. This could be very cathartic, both for you and for others who are remembering your lost loved ones.
Put aside time to reminisce
If you’re already getting together with other friends and families over the holidays, you can easily set aside a bit of time to share memories of your loved ones.
Share a moment of silence
If talking about your lost loved one is too difficult, a moment of silence can be an equally poignant method of remembrance.
Decorate a tree of memories
If you’re the kind to put out multiple trees around the holidays (I’ve lost track of how many my mom’s got put away!), you can dedicate one (even a small one!) specifically to your loved one. You can hang photos, keepsakes, and notes on the tree to keep tangible memories front and centre.
Add a memorial ornament
If you can’t dedicate an entire separate tree, even a single ornament can have an incredible impact. This is a great way to remember lost pets, too. You can buy personalised ornaments in countless places, online or in person. Or, you an even make one yourself to remember your loved ones.