Remembering loved ones during the holidays: 19 practical suggestions

There’s no way around it – after someone important dies the holidays are often never the same again. Traditions, events, parties, songs, movies – the grief triggers are everywhere. Avoidance and denial are popular coping tactics, but we suggest a different approach. Instead, try keeping your loved one’s memory alive by continuing to make them a part of your holiday season. Here are 19 ways to remember loved ones during the holidays:

1. Photos

Display old photo albums in a location accessible to holiday visitors. People can’t resist a well-placed photo album. Before you know it you’ll be reminiscing and telling stories with family and friends.

Are all of your photos digital? Make an album featuring your loved one. Shutterfly and Snapfish have great deals on photo products this time of year. After you receive your album you might want to share it with others who would appreciate the photos.

2. Get out the old home videos

Yes, you may get emotional, but it also might be comforting to see your loved one up on the TV screen. Again, it’s a great opportunity for storytelling and reminiscing. If your anything like me you may also end up in stitches over the ridiculous outfit you wore to Thanksgiving in ’01.

3. Give away your loved one’s belongings

After a loss, it can be hard to part with your loved one’s belongings. The holidays present the perfect opportunity to give away some of these things, especially if you are someone who always wants to make sure that old treasures go to good homes. Wrap up a few of your loved one’s old things and give them to family and friends who will appreciate them. Write a card letting the recipient of the gift know why you chose to give them this particular item. I guarantee you they will adore the gift and the sentiment.

4. Create a special place to write memories

Put out a marker and paper or plain wooden ornaments. Friends and family can hang the ornaments or leave the memories in an old stocking or empty gift box. When everyone is gathered together, read the memories aloud.

5. Donate to a cause in your loved one’s name

Try and choose a charity your loved one would have supported. During the holidays, churches and places of worship, local food pantries, homeless shelters, soldiers and their families, nursing homes, and ‘Toys for Tots’ are all very active.

6. Buy a gift your loved one would have liked

When you see a gift your loved one would have liked, go ahead and buy it. Donate it to a charity or give it to someone as a gift.

7. Skip sending the annual holiday cards

It may be too difficult to send out the annual family holiday cards. Don’t feel guilty. Instead, take an hour to write a few cards for the military and send them through the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes project.

8. Volunteer your time to others in need

You might choose a cause your loved one worked with or supported. If your feeling lonely, try a retirement home where you can sit and talk to those you are helping.

9. Light a candle in honor of a loved one

Leave it burning during days when you think you’ll miss them the most.

10. Donate your loved one’s old coats

Donate your loved one’s old coats to onewarmcoat.org

11. Set a place for your loved one at the dinner table

Would it be too hard to see the seat left empty? Invite someone from your loved ones past to dinner.

12. Invite your family and friends to a holiday potluck

Ask guests to make a dish that your loved one liked.

13. Buy or make a memorial ornament

Even better, use an old photo to remember a loved one.

14. Use your loved one’s old recipe(s)

Make holiday cookies or a holiday dinner.

15. Send that holiday card afterall

Send a holiday card to someone from your loved ones past who they may have lost touch with.

16. Spend some time in that special place

Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one. You could also spend time watching their favorite holiday movies or listening to their favorite holiday songs.

17. Take that trip you have been planning

Dreaming about a trip? Keep putting it off? You deserve it!

18. Give a framed photo of your loved one

Especially to other people who also miss them.

19. Most importantly, take care of yourself

Attend a workshop or support group for people dealing with a loss during the holidays. Remember that your loved one would have wanted you to have the support you need.