The grieving process for loved ones lost is not linear; we don’t grieve a little less every single day. Instead, the pain fades slowly over time with spikes of sadness often triggered by places, dates and events. The holidays are one time of year when our sense of loss may well up again, as we recall good times with those we have lost.
One way to process those feelings is to remember our loved ones and honor them during our holiday traditions while making new memories with those still living. There are many ways to do so; these are a few we have found most useful.
1. Donate their things, or in their name
We often find solace in giving and aiding others. Giving away items owned by a loved one to those in need can be a real comfort to those left behind. It reminds us that our dearly beloved can contribute something even after death. Giving in their name achieves the same thing, mainly if helping others was a core value of theirs.
2. Volunteer in their honor
Along the same lines, “volunteering on behalf of a loved one helps us connect a positive, selfless experience to their memory,” says Sandy Stuhr, Sr., CEO of Stuhr Funeral Home. “As with donating material goods, it honors their life and helps others simultaneously.”
3. Include their memory at the dinner table
Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas often revolve around meals, so add a place setting for the loved one with their photo, include their favorite or signature dish, share photos and videos, and swap happy stories about their life. This will keep their spirit alive and present during this emotional time and allow you to hold on to them even as you let go.
Some people may, at first, feel uncomfortable speaking of those lost, but this usually does not last. Sharing real experiences from the life of a loved one brings us closer to them, and those present. You might even want to make a toast to them, the more personal, the better.
4. Engage in a tradition important to them
Holiday traditions change over time, and theirs may have seemed hokey and old fashioned, but maintaining those rituals can bring a sense of normalcy and comfort after the passing of those we loved. For the first holiday season after their death, at least, continue one tradition meaningful to them that might not have been significant to you at the time. You might find it has new meaning to those left behind.
5. Don’t forget yourself
Those we loved, loved us and would want us to be happy. Take time to count your blessings and embrace gratitude for all you have, and dedicate yourself to be your own best version in memory of the loved one you’ve lost.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, cares for families of those whose lives have ended. Stuhr Funeral Home is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. For more information about funeral services available, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.