Remembering a lost loved one in special and personal ways aids in the grieving process and establishes a legacy inspired by the person’s unforgettable life.
“By honoring a loved one after he or she has died, we are able to develop a connection with him or her that allows for a continued relationship,” said Julie Kays, a licensed clinical professional counselor, nationally certified counselor, and manager at The Counseling Center at Stella Maris in Timonium, Maryland. “In doing so, those who have died continue to be a part of our lives when we incorporate conversations, memory sharing, rituals, or acts of service in their name.”
Kays also says that the best ways to heal are those that feel right to the grievers. Below are 13 ideas for remembering a lost loved one to help inspire your journey in honoring their life and healing from your grief. These may also help you think about how you can support others who are grieving and how you want to be remembered after your own passing.
You can support a cause that was important to your loved one or make a gift to the end-of-life care provider who helped your loved one feel more comfortable and at peace in their final days.
Take a trip to a locale close to your heart, where you shared memories with your loved one. You could also go to a place they always wanted to visit to feel closer to them.
Compose letters to your loved one as if you’re talking with them or they can read your words, so you can continue to stay connected to the person you miss so dearly.
Planting a tree is a long-standing tradition for keeping a loved one’s memory alive. But you can take the idea a step further and plant a garden to honor your loved one. The physical activity may also keep you busy, help you feel productive, and connect you to others who will enjoy the fruits of your labor. If gardening isn’t a current hobby, it could also help you establish a part of your new identity after losing a loved one.
Honor your loved one by lighting a candle or offering a word of prayer during a vigil or religious service.
Mini memorial monuments such as these can have photos, text, and other personalized design elements on them that represent a loved one. The best places to set up a mini memorial monument are a spot where you will see it often or a place that was meaningful to your loved one.
Fill the mantle with photos of your loved one. Carve out a certain part of the house where they often spent time and make this their place. Lay a blanket they loved on their favorite chair, so you can sit there and feel close to them.
Organize a 5K race, dance-a-thon, or spaghetti dinner, and invite your loved one’s family and friends. Make it an annual event to continue remembering them.
Eat your loved one’s favorite cookies on their birthday. Plan a day of reflection on the anniversary of your loved one’s passing or a specific date that’s significant to the two of you. The possibilities are endless, and you can be creative.
Or you can start new traditions that make you feel good. For example, start going out to dinner on Thanksgiving if hosting at home now feels empty without your loved one.
Connect with other people who are grieving a lost loved one by writing about your experience. You may inspire others who are also working through the stages of grief. You may also enjoy sharing happy stories while remembering your loved one’s life.
Dangle your loved one’s wedding ring on a chain around your neck, wear their scarf, or turn their clothing into a blanket.
From painting to building furniture, focusing on the development of a new skill may make you feel close to your loved one while carrying on their legacy.
You could do one, several, or all of these. No matter which you choose to do, the most important part is to remember a lost loved one in whatever ways that feel healing and connective to you.
Photo credit: iStock
Search for grief support resources, such as in-person groups, online forums, and phone hotlines, available in your area.
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