Ways to Honor Your Late Loved Ones During the Holidays

Traditions to keep your late loved one’s memory alive during the holidays

5 Ways to Remember Loved Ones During the Holidays

Losing a loved one is never easy. But holidays often intensify grief — regardless of how recent your loss  — and you may feel like the season lacks the celebratory appeal you once enjoyed. This is normal. It doesn’t mean you have to forego festivities altogether, however. Rather than internalizing or ignoring your feelings, try externalizing and embracing them. There is joy in starting new traditions to keep your loved one’s memory alive during the holidays. 

Provide a space for your family and friends to write down their favorite memories of your late loved one.

Collect meaningful holiday ornaments.

Was your mother an avid photographer? Did you and your brother love to build model cars when you were kids? Did you and your spouse love to travel together? Each year, make or buy an ornament that represents your favorite memories and hang it on your tree in their honor. You may also want to give special ornaments to other friends or family members for their own collection.

Create a place for friends and family members to share memories.

A Life Story on theMemories.com is an online tribute that lives forever. Use as many words and photos as you want to tell your loved one’s whole story. Did your father serve overseas in the military? Don’t just list the years next to his rank. Remember how he shipped home a set of porcelain dishes, one piece at a time, to your mother while he was there? Include that sweet story, take a photo of the handwritten note he sent with that first plate and upload it along with a photo of their table set with those dishes for a holiday dinner. Was your sister constantly quoting movies? Include details like this and showcase her all-time fave with a colored callout in a large font. Or use that feature to highlight a meaningful mantra.

Post a link to the Life Story on your favorite social media channel and invite others to share their own photos on the interactive timeline and leave reminiscence in the online guestbook. Each year, return to the Life Story to read and reread contributions. You may also want to read a few entries aloud at a family party. This often leads to “remember when” conversations and you might learn something new about your loved one.

During the holidays, you can use these ideas to honor your late loved one.

Incorporate your loved one’s recipes into celebrations.

The holidays are synonymous with food, and food is known to trigger deep memories and evoke emotions. The taste, texture and smell helps you recall when and where you ate it before. Cooking for a crowd? Prepare your best friend’s buttermilk mashed potatoes, make a toast to her before passing the gravy and think about the first dinner party she served them at. Going to game night? Bring a bit of nostalgia to the table with grandma’s caramel popcorn balls. The youngsters will love hearing stories about how she popped the kernels the old-fashioned way, before air poppers or microwaves became common household appliances. 

You might also put a recipe book together with your loved one’s favorite dishes and give it to friends or family members to help them find comfort. Or have a handwritten recipe laser engraved on a wood cutting board where it will be seen for years to come. Long after the wrapping paper is gone, these gifts elicit happiness while coping with grief and loss in a way that nothing found in the latest holiday gift guide can.

Compile a holiday playlist with your loved one’s favorite songs.

Like food, music also cues memories and keeps your loved one close at heart. Whether your brother’s failed attempt to hit the high notes in a pop version of a classic carol had you laughing so hard the tears spilled from your eyes or a certain Christmas piano concerto reminds you of how your father’s fingers flew over the ivories while you sat by the fire listening intently, compiling a playlist can be very cathartic. Play it during a family dinner or keep it to yourself for your commute. Either way, make it a tradition to listen. After the holidays, put another playlist together of everyday songs that remind you of someone special.

Ways to cope with grief during the holidays. Donate a gift in your late loved one's honor.

Donate a gift in their honor.

Rather than purchasing an expensive holiday bouquet for your loved one’s final resting place, consider getting a smaller arrangement and donating the difference to a charity that was close to his or her heart. You might also include a link to the charity on their LIfe Story and invite others to do the same. 

Or, donate your time instead of money. Did your aunt teach you how to sew, knit or crochet? Use those talents to make items for Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to first responders and military troops. Contact your local Red Cross about writing letters to veterans as part of their Holidays for Heroes program. Coordinate a toy drive in honor of the teacher who made sure every child had a present. Or simply show random acts of kindness as you know they would have. 

These are just a few traditions to keep your loved one’s memory alive during the holidays. There are many unique ways to remember and celebrate the influential people you have lost. Find comfort and contentment by starting and carrying on your own seasonal traditions. 

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