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. My nan passed away in November 2015 quite suddenly, that Christmas was difficult to ‘celebrate’. But over the years as a family we have developed ways to remember her or our other lost loved ones.
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. Especially in the early stages of grief, it can really help.
A photo ornament on your Christmas tree could be a lovely touch.You could even give a framed photograph to someone else who is struggling with this loss, as a gift. In our family house, my mam has a framed photograph of my nan up all year round as well as my step-dad’s father. A reminder of keeping their spirit alive.
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. It’s a nice way to remember them, a memory you shared or simply to feel like they are around. Candles are symbolic and can represent spirits, which makes them perfect for remembering at the holidays.
Talk about them
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. We always talk about our late relatives, it’s always been tradition. A way to keep them alive in spirit. During the festive season this ever more prominent. We talk about the memories, we listen to their favourite holiday songs etc.
Create a keepsake
You could make a collage, scrapbook, or photo book of your favourite photos of/with them. You could even have a book, bench, tree, or other memorial object dedicated to them. Something you can have or go to forever, to feel close to them. I have a pillowcase made from my nan’s old clothing. All of us grandchildren got something created from her clothing. A keepsake to remember her by.
Add to their gravesite
If you can visit their resting place, you could add some holiday flowers or other decoration to it. If you feel like you can go to this area, I know it can be difficult to do. Maybe while you are there, talk to your loved one about the holidays and what you’re feeling. You probably haven’t spoken to them in a while and doing this helps with grief. Whilst it is a one way conversation, if you believe they can hear you then its all worth it. During the holidays, we take the trip up to family gravesites. To pay respects, lay some flowers or holly wreaths and remember them.
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.
Add a memorial ornament
Adding an ornament to your tree can have an incredible impact. If your loved ones enjoyed the holiday season maybe add something they liked. Or make it personal, add a photo of them to your tree. You can buy personalised ornaments in countless places. Or, you an even make one yourself to remember your loved ones. My mam created a snow globe with a photo of my step-dad’s father in it a few years ago. It now hangs on the tree every year, we also hang some of my nan’s ornaments on their too. It’s like tradition these days.
It’s the greatest time of the year, but also can be the darkest. .Hopefully with some of these ideas, you can memorialise your loved one. Celebrate their life and enjoy the festive season too.