Remembering loved ones is another way of coping with grief during the holidays. By remembering your loved one, I mean intentionally including your loved ones in a holiday ritual or tradition.
Reggie’s death from a heart attack came out of nowhere. It was our custom to speak each day around mid-morning. The day Reggie died was no exception. Reggie called me around 11 am. It was one of the ways we stayed connected in our marriage.
At that time, Reggie and I were both part of our church’s youth ministry, Merge. Before our call, Reggie emailed several of our co-laborers in the ministry. These emails were full of Reggie’s warm-hearted, good-natured jovialness. I remember joking with him about them.
“You have been busy on email this morning,” I said.
“Uh-huh,” Reggie replied.
“What am I going to do with you?” I joked.
“Nothing. It’s too late. You’re stuck with me now—‘til death do us part.” The word stuck implied that we had many years ahead. Neither Reggie nor I planned on leaving the other anytime soon. Little did we know that less than two hours later, Reggie would be gone.
Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for Reggie to leave, let alone spend a holiday without him. And I didn’t have to, not completely. I could still include Reggie’s memory in the festivities, even if I wouldn’t have his physical presence. Remembering Reggie was my way of honoring his memory.
Four Ways of Remembering Loved Ones During the Holidays
Reggie wasn’t the first loved one I made a point of remembering during the holidays. My father has that honor. Daddy died six years and a day before Reggie. Reggie never met my father, but Reggie told me he felt like he knew Daddy because of how my family talked about him during the holidays.
This started quite organically. We didn’t have a family meeting. No one spearheaded a conversation about how to include Daddy in the festivities. It all started naturally with someone reminiscing about Daddy. I don’t remember whom. It may have been me. That first memory sparked another in someone else and then another. Next thing we knew, we were laughing and smiling as we told stories about Daddy.
Though it was unplanned, it turned out to be one of the best ways we could honor Daddy. Those stories brought him alive and Daddy joined us for a few moments that Christmas. It was wonderful, so much so that we continue to do it each year.
Whether you do it informally or formally, reminiscing about your loved ones and sharing memories about them is a beautiful way to include them in your holiday celebrations.
2. Display Meaningful Items
This is how I remember my children who I have yet to meet because I miscarried them before they were born. I bought ornaments for them. I have never hung them on a tree, but I do take them out each year and take a moment to remember them, grieve another Christmas spent apart, think about them spending Christmas with their father and grandfather in Heaven, and dream about the holidays and time we will spend together when I finally join them in Heaven.
Ornaments are but one way to include meaningful items. There are others, as many as there are meaningful things. You also can include a meaningful item by wearing something that belonged to your loved one or that reminds you of him/her. Include what is meaningful to you.
3. View Photos/Videos
Ours is the most documented generation in history. By documented, I mean there are more photographs and videos of us than any other generation before us. Not only do we have the technology by way of digital cameras for taking stills and videos, but also social media has provided a mechanism for organizing and viewing them. Many people post a picture of their loved ones using social media on holidays. My niece and nephews have done this with both my father/their grandfather and my husband/their uncle.
Another option with photos is to set up a photo table. A photo table is an assortment of framed photographs of your loved one(s) arranged on a table. The photos typically fill the table. With this option, the photos are out on display. If the loss is fresh, you may opt to put out a photo album. That way, the photos are available if someone wants to look through them, but leaves them the choice.
4. Include His/Her Favorites
A way that I learned about preparing for this blog is to include your loved one’s favorites. You can include a favorite food at dinner, play some of his/her favorite music in the background during the festivities, or watch a favorite holiday movie or TV show.
Last week, I mentioned doing something new as a way of coping with the loss of a loved one. I think this is one I will try this year. Reggie loved my caramel carrot cake. I would make it during the holidays for him. I haven’t made one since he died, but I think it would be a great way to include him this year.
These are just a few ways of remembering your loved ones during the holidays that have worked for me. Maybe they will get your creative juices going and you will come up with some of your own. If so, please share. Your idea may bless someone else.
- How are you remembering your loved ones during the holidays this year?