Losing a loved one is a deeply painful, stressful, and overwhelming experience. It often feels like the grief will never cease, and the difficult emotions can ebb and flow over time. That said, eventually you will reach a ‘new normal’ that will be easier to manage, and you will likely start to think about how you can best remember your loved one and honour their memory.
Remembering your loved one is a deeply personal experience. Everyone has their own way of honouring and evoking someone who has passed, and what works for one family or individual may not feel right for another. We have listed some meaningful ways of remembering a loved one. You can alter and amend them to create memorial traditions that work best for you.
Support A Charity Or Cause Close To Their Hearts
Everyone has specific causes and charities that truly speak to their hearts. One of the most meaningful ways that you can remember a loved one is to make a donation of cash or in-kind goods to a charity that they supported (or wanted to support) during their life. If your loved one passed away from an illness or a disease, you could also consider choosing a medical charity that helps raise funds for research and treatments.
Purchase Memorial Jewellery
Memorial jewellery comes in many different styles and options. For some, an engraved bracelet or a locket containing your loved one’s photo will be the ideal way of remembering them on a daily basis. Others prefer to purchase memorial ashes jewellery made out of a small amount of their loved one’s cremains. When you glance down at your jewellery, you’ll be flooded with memories of your friend, spouse, or relative.
Commemorate Them With A Memorial Bench
Memorial benches have long been a popular way to commemorate and honour a loved one’s life after they pass. By placing the memorial bench in a in a scenic, peaceful, beautiful, or meaningful location, you can sit and remember the wonderful times you had with the departed. You can contact a memorial bench company who organise the bench for you, but you save a lot of money by speaking with the local council to get permission to place an engraved bench in your desired location.
Keep Some of Their Treasured Items
When a loved one close to you passes away, the responsibility of dealing with their home and estate may fall to you. While you will likely need to donate, sell, and throw away many of their household possessions, be sure to select some of their most treasured items to keep as meaningful keepsakes for years to come.
Plant A Memorial Tree
Memorial trees have long been a meaningful and significant way to honour a loved one or an event, and the practice occurs around the world. A tree will blossom and bloom each year, reminding you of the celebration of life on a cyclical basis. You might choose to plant a tree in your garden, but if you want to do so in a park or public garden, ensure that you seek permission from the local council in advance. The planting ceremony can be laden with symbolism and meaning, and you can invite other loved ones to attend.
Share Their Photos and Stories In An Online Remembrance Book
Like a hard copy remembrance book at a funeral or memorial, you can leave memories and thoughts on an online remembrance book. Share the link with well-wishers who can’t make it to the memorial or funeral service.
If you wish to take the online remembrance book one step further, you could also create dedicated online memorial website for your loved one. With a little tech savvy, you can form an online repository for photos, anecdotes, songs, and videos. This is an especially good idea if you want to share memories with family members and friends across the country, and around the world.
Don’t be afraid to bring them up and share their stories
You might be tempted to avoid bringing up your deceased loved one, but experts say that this can actually prolong the most painful parts of the grieving process. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one. This can include sharing your most treasured memories in a formal setting, or simply mentioning them in passing when you are reminded of them. Not only can this be healing for you, it can also help your friends and family members through their own grieving and healing process.
Create A Shrine To Their Memory
The word shrine is certainly a loaded one, but this term actually refers to an ancient and contemporary Greek custom of marking the passing of a loved one. The commemoration doesn’t end after the funeral; memorial services are held again on the 40th day after death, and then on an annual basis. In addition, Greeks create small roadside shrines adorned with photos, candles, flowers, and religious icons. You can do the same in your home or garden. Include items and icons that were meaningful to them during their lifetime.
Select an Annual Day Of Celebration
Speaking of the Greek Orthodox traditions above, many other cultures and religions around the world also take time out of the life at least once per year to remember their loved ones. In many Latin American countries, they do this one day per year, known as ‘Day of the Dead’ (Día de Muertos). On November 2nd each year, which is a national holiday in Mexico, people gather with friends and family in order to collectively remember their lost dead, making offerings to their loved ones, pray, and celebrate.
Rather than celebrating all of your deceased loved ones on one day per year, you can make the celebration more personal by choosing to honour an individual each year on a date meaningful to them. You could do this on the anniversary of their death, or choose to focus your celebrations on their birthday. Play their favourite songs, eat some of their most-loved foods, and take the time to tell stories and reminisce about their life.
Create A Memorial Quilt
Memory quilts are an American tradition that is growing in popularity in the UK. Create (or hire someone to create) a quilt using clothing, bedding, and other textiles that belonged to your loved one. Consider having some meaningful photos printed onto cotton and include them throughout the design. This can be a truly tactile and comforting way to remember your loved one that can be passed down for generations.
Display your loved one’s photos in your home
A time-honoured way to remember your loved one is to display their photo in a prominent place in your home. While some people are tempted to remove visible reminders of their loved ones from view to reduce the pain of loss, it can actually be more healing to have them in view. Place a few photos in your home or on your desk where you can see them and smile.
The grieving process is different for everyone
Remember – there is no ‘one right way’ to grieve. Some of these suggestions and ideas will be suitable for you, and others might not feel quite right. Be creative, and do what you need to do to remember your loved one in the best way for you.
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Patowary, K. (n.d.). The Roadside Shrines of Greece. [online] Amusing Planet. Available at: https://www.amusingplanet.com/2019/03/the-roadside-shrines-of-greece.html [Accessed 20 Feb. 2020].
Saner, E. (2018). Memorial benches – inspirational reminders, or grave eyesores? The Guardian. [online] 14 Mar. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/shortcuts/2018/mar/14/memorial-benches-inspirational-reminders-or-grave-eyesores [Accessed 20 Feb. 2020].
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What’s Your Grief (2014a). Creating a Memorial Quilt: the inspiring work of Lori Mason. [online] What’s Your Grief. Available at: https://whatsyourgrief.com/creating-memorial-quilt-lori-mason/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2020].
What’s Your Grief (2014b). Photos of Deceased Loved Ones: The Great Debate. [online] What’s Your Grief. Available at: https://whatsyourgrief.com/photos-of-deceased/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2020].