The holiday season is a time that we celebrate being together, but it’s impossible to ignore there’s someone missing from the festivities. When we have lost someone who was an irreplaceable part of our world, it can be heartbreaking to celebrate without them. But perhaps you will find some comfort from knowing that you don’t need to leave your loved one out of your holiday plans at all.
Honoring the one you have lost as part of your holiday traditions can be a very healing experience. It keeps their memory near your heart, brings you peace, and can bring people together who all loved this special person. But how do you do it? Here are 15 lovely ways to celebrate your loved one’s memory this holiday season.
- Give a Charitable Gift in Their Name
It can be an empowering experience to make a charitable donation in your loved one’s name. Was there an organization that helped them become the amazing person they were, or perhaps helped them towards the end of their life? Was there a cause that your loved one strongly supported while they were alive?
Most of the time when you give an amount to a charity, you have the option to make the donation in someone’s honor. Putting it in the name of the one you have lost is a way of healing the world around you while healing your own heart. You’ll be spreading the immense love that this person brought into your life, out into the universe.
- Light a Candle
This is a simple way of honoring the memory of someone you have lost, but it’s a powerful one. Lighting a candle for the one you love is a timeless ritual that symbolizes the light that your loved one brought into your life. Sitting in the candlelight, you’ll probably feel a sense of peace.
Choose a beautiful votive to hold the candle and a special candle that looks and smells amazing. Each night during the holidays, spend a few moments (or as much time as you want) lighting this candle and honoring your loved one’s memory.
- Make Meaningful Gifts of Their Belongings
It’s hard to know what to do with all of your loved one’s belongings when they pass away. Give some of their belongings to family members or friends who will treasure them. Who would love those vintage baseball cards? Would someone be proud to wear your loved one’s favorite t.shirt?
The act of giving away your loved one’s things as precious gifts is a reminder that there were so many people who loved this person too. You’ll know that each item is being lovingly cared for and put to good use by someone who understands its meaning.
- Make Their Favorite Recipe
What was your loved one’s favorite food? Make that recipe and serve it up to friends and family in their honor. The act of cooking or baking can be very meditative. You’ll have time to think, remember, and maybe shed a few tears while you cook.
Enjoy your loved one’s favorite meal with a collection of family and friends, and see how it brings people together. Maybe this could be a new tradition. Even if you’re alone, sit and savor the meal by yourself, and let it comfort you with memories of the one you loved so much.
- Hang an Ornament
Putting up decorations each year is a big deal for a lot of people because it marks the beginning of the holidays. Sparkly lights and glittering ornaments have a wonderful festive energy. Include the memory of your loved one in this. You can honor your loved one by having an ornament that you hang in their honor.
You could make an ornament from something special of theirs, like fabric from their favorite clothes or a piece of jewelry they loved wearing. You could frame a tiny photo of them and hang that from the tree. You could crochet something or sculpt something or even whittle something that signifies your loved one. These beautiful glass ornaments are made using cremation ashes as part of the glass-blowing process.
It’s hard to know what to do with all of your loved one’s belongings when they pass away. Give some of their belongings to family members or friends who will treasure them.
- Create a Book of Memories
There are lots of places that will make beautiful books out of your favorite photos of your loved one – any store with a photo section will be able to help you with that. You can also go online and upload copies of your photos to websites that will do this. Having a physical book of photos like this is a truly precious thing you’ll value forever.
If you like, you can leave blank pages in the book where people who loved the person who passed can write their favorite memories of them. Leave the memory book on a table at your holiday get-together and let people lovingly look through the photos and add their own stories.
- Volunteer In Their Honor
One of the best ways we can redirect the sadness of grief is by putting focus on helping others. As soon as you get into a giving mindset, it gives everything perspective. Humans are hardwired to find joy in giving, so it will lift your spirits. Volunteering can give you a strong sense of purpose when you feel lost.
Think about ways you could volunteer that your loved one would have been proud of. Choose an organization that connects with who they were and what they believed in. If they loved birds, help out at the local bird sanctuary. If your loved one died of cancer, volunteer your time towards finding a cure.
- Plant a Tree To Memorialize Them
Planting a tree in your loved one’s honor will leave a lasting legacy. Over time it will grow into a big tree with branches that your grandchildren can sit in. You will always be able to visit this tree as a spot to sit and reflect and remember. And don’t forget, it will help the environment.
Another take on this idea is to buy a little bonsai tree. Bonsais are Japanese miniature trees, the roots of which are carefully trimmed so that they remain like tiny versions of big trees for all time. If you buy a bonsai tree that is the same age as your loved one, you can nurture it and watch it go through the seasons for years and years to come. It can be a powerful symbol of the timelessness of your love.
- Wear a Piece of Jewelry That Reminds You of Them
There are so many beautiful pieces of handmade jewelry that you can buy on marketplaces like Etsy, where talented artists make custom pieces to memorialize loved ones. You could have a beautiful locket made with their photo inside or a bracelet engraved with your loved one’s name.
There’s a special type of comfort that comes from wearing something to remind you of someone you’ve lost. It’s a way to feel as though they’re always with you. It’s also a way to wear your heart on your sleeve, and perhaps to start conversations with others about how wonderful your loved one was.
- Do Something You Loved Doing with Them
Was there a holiday tradition that you and your loved one loved doing together? Perhaps you loved taking a drive around the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights. Or maybe you both loved decorating the house with dorky holiday music playing.
Even if it wasn’t holiday related, remember back to an activity that you’d always find joy in together. Now do it. It will be hard, because you won’t be able to have them there to enjoy it with you. But you’ll find that their memory lives on through that special tradition.
- Hang a Picture of Them
One way to include your loved one in your holiday get-together is to frame a favorite photo of them and hang it on the wall. Choose a photo that really captures who they were, and shows them at their happiest.
You could even commission an artist to paint a portrait of your loved one from a photo you love. Having a beautiful painting of them is something you will treasure for the rest of your life. You can even pass it down through the generations to come.
- Write Them a Letter
You’ll want to keep some time aside for this one where you can be alone and really feel your feelings. Writing a letter to the one you have lost is a powerful way to feel closer to them, and a very healing process that can help you grieve in a healthy way.
You won’t show this letter to anyone else. It’s just for your loved one. What would you say to them, if you could speak with them one last time? Put it all in the letter. Tell them how much you loved them and will always love them.
- Have a Keepsake Made from Their Ashes
You can have a beautiful piece of glass artwork made using your loved one’s cremation ashes. Talented artisan glassblowers will lovingly weave your loved one’s ashes into the glass, making priceless keepsakes you will treasure forever.
You can choose from vases to hold bouquets of flowers in every season, to globes that you can display on your mantelpiece or desk. These touchstones are for keeping in your pocket, so that you can hold onto their memory whenever you need to most.
- Send Little Gifts To Others Who Loved Them
There are probably others out there in the world who are missing your loved one as well. Take some time to reach out to those people during the holidays. Send them each a small gift in the mail (it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive) just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Donate Something They Loved As a Child
What was your loved one’s favorite storybook when they were a child? What about their all-time favorite toy? Go out and purchase a brand new version of that childhood favorite and wrap it up with love.
Now go and donate this special toy or book to a charity that helps underprivileged kids who don’t normally get presents. You have officially spread holiday joy, by sharing a part of your loved one’s childhood with a kid who will love it just as much.
We Wish You a Time of Healing
It’s certainly not easy getting through the holidays when you’ve lost someone you dearly loved. If you’re unsure how to cope, this article offers some advice that might help. Memorializing your loved one in meaningful ways can turn this potentially painful time of year into a time of healing. We hope this article gave you some good ideas for how to hold your loved one’s memory close during the holidays, and celebrate the love you shared together.