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For those of us that have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a daunting, awkward and lonely time. This might be your first Christmas celebrating without your loved one, or you are finally at a point where you want to keep your loved one’s memory alive for your growing family. Whatever your situation may be, we have rounded up some suggestions and ideas to light up your loved one’s spirit and memory, and to keep the merry cheer going in your family for years to come.
1. The easiest and most common way to commemorate a loved one during the holidays is by dedicating a special ornament in that person’s name. It can be a small picture frame with their picture in it, or a handmade ornament with their name or initial on it. Or you can go more elaborate and place an item that has significance with their hobbies or job etc. Whatever it is, it will be something that will bring images and memories of your loved one to the mind of anyone who sees the ornament hung on the tree.
2. Light a candle in their memory on Christmas Eve. In most cultures lighting up a candle is significant of remembering a loved one. If your family is more religious you can even complete the candle lighting with a family prayer for them. It doesn’t have to elaborate it can be a simple prayer.
3. Take the time to remember the good times and funny moments of your loved one. You can fill a basket or a stocking with stories on little cards that you can all share as a family. Do what is natural. If it gets the tears flowing it might actually be therapeutic and get the conversation flowing. Losing a loved one is not easy, the amount of pain might be different for everyone, if you feel it is too soon to talk out loud about your loved one maybe write a letter on your own to your loved one.
4. Donate an item in your loved one’s name. From a small donation to a fund or a name on a brick type of donation (Habitat for Humanity, Buy a Brick, Build a Legacy). Another way is to “gift” in your loved ones name by placing their stocking or gifts under the tree and then giving the items to charity.
5. Change up family traditions by preparing a favorite meal or create a “movie time” with your loved one’s favorite item or movie in mind. Did they enjoy a great game of Scrabble or read from a specific book of poems? You can set up a family Scrabble match or recite some of his/her favorite poems.
7. Do something out of the ordinary such as going out to dinner for Christmas. Did your loved one have a favorite restaurant? Maybe make it a new tradition to go out for Christmas dinner. Sometimes being home and continuing with the yearly traditions that have been around the family can be difficult to handle, this way it can be a change of scenery and one that will bring light to the matter at hand.
Losing a loved one is never easy. The degree and extent of your mourning depends on a lot of factors such as age, relationship to loved one, religion and the bond between you and your family. If this is your first holiday celebrating without your loved one, don’t be so hard on yourself and others. It is inevitable that things might still be terribly painful and at times difficult. However, we hope that you celebrate with the rest of your family and try to remember the wonderful memories of your loved one with these suggestions.