With the holidays coming closer, you might already be thinking about your plans to celebrate. This is the time of year when many families gather to celebrate a time to be with each other. For those who are coping with grief, the holidays can be a challenging time of the year. The holiday season can be particularly challenging for people who are missing loved ones. There’s nothing that feels good about sitting down to a holiday dinner with loved ones, only to remember the entire time who’s missing from the table.
At the Grief Recovery Center, our counselors understand how certain events and tragedies can be especially poignant during the holidays as they remind us of certain individuals we have lost.
While we recommend that families dealing with loss seek the professional assistance of experts in the area of grief, we do recognize that there are some things you don’t need a counselor to do. One of those things is to find a way to remember a lost loved one during the holidays. You can establish new traditions with your remaining loved ones to remember the person by. You can find ways to keep them at the front of your thoughts throughout the holiday season.
Here are our top 7 ways to remember someone at the holidays:
Talk about them
It might feel painful at first to bring them up, especially with emotions running high due to the holiday. However, you are all feeling this loss, so bringing it up in conversation might help everyone feel a little more seen. You can reminisce about old holidays with them, talk about their favorite traditions and meals, remember how they used to celebrate, and just make them a part o the celebration in general.
Create a new tradition
Was there something special your loved one looked forward to during the holiday season? What can you remember? Maybe they loved to sing holiday songs or bake cookies or write Christmas cards. Whatever it was, find a way to make it a new tradition to do in their memory. You can sign up to go caroling, bake cookies for a local shelter, or help a local nonprofit send out their holiday mail. That way, you can be kind to others, remember who you lost, and celebrate the holiday at the same time.
Write a letter to them
If you’re missing your person, try writing them a letter about how you’re feeling. You can structure it as a holiday letter – like an end-of-year update, or even like a letter to Santa. You don’t have to send your letter, but putting your feelings down on paper might help you to think more clearly. You can also share your letter with other people who are missing your loved one too.
Display photos out with the other decorations
When you’re putting up decorations this year, make sure to put out some photos of your loved one too. You can even decorate the photos to dress them up for the season. This way, a visual reminder is never too far behind.
Give away their old belongings as gifts
One way to help others feel the love of the person you lost is to give out gifts from their belongings. It might be hard to part with some of their objects, but giving them to new folks gives them a new life. You can bring someone joy just by going through your loved one’s old possessions and finding something that they would like. It might make you feel really happy, or kind of conflicted, but if you’re able to part with some of their things this might be a nice way to incorporate your loved one into the season.
Make their favorite holiday dish
Another great way to remember someone at the holidays is to prepare a dish that they loved. A large focus of the holiday season is on eating food, so making room to remember your loved one at the table can be a perfect fit. You can make the dish exactly the way they liked it, or you can put your own twist on it to blend old traditions and new ones.
Make a donation in their name
Is there an organization they cared about or a cause they resonated with? You can take some time this season to donate your time or money to it in your loved one’s memory. Knowing their name is associated with some good out in the world can be a powerfully joyful feeling.