Remembering Loved Ones at the Holidays and Any Day
Ways to Remember Those Who Have Died at Christmas and the Holidays
Finding ways to make it through the holidays, to keep smiling and get into the Christmas Spirit can be especially challenging for those facing the holidays without a loved one, whether they are apart due to distance or due to death at the holidays.
One way to making the holidays easier is to find a special way to remember those loved ones as part of the holiday season. Discover many symbolic and tangible ways to remember loved ones and those who have been close to us who have died at the holidays.
Some of my favorite ways of remembering are hanging an ornament, lighting a candle, putting up a stocking and listening to music.
While some of these suggestions are specific for the holidays, others can work any day to remember a loved one.
You can also find helpful suggestions and Ways of Coping When You're Apart at the Holidays at the page on "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
If it is the first holiday season without a love one, you may want have family and friends gather to share favorite stories or memories about the person who has died. This can be done as a formal celebration, or informally by having everyone write letters or remember in their own way during holiday preparations.
A special thanks to Sylvestermouse whose lens I Miss You Most at Christmas Time was my incentive for finally pulling together a much overdue lens on remembering those who have been lost at the holidays.
Grief Angel Ornament available on CafePress.
Remembering with an Ornament at Christmas
A Special Remembrance Ornament available on Amazon
Hang an Ornament
1. Hang a Special Ornament
One very simple way to remembering a loved one at the holidays is to hang a special ornament on the tree or place out other special holiday decorations.
The ornament you choose might be a new remembrance, memorial or grief ornament. It might also be a favorite ornament of the loved ones from years past.
Memorial and Remembrance Ornaments
Willow Tree Remembrance Ornament
This Willow Tree Remembrance ornament is a very subtle way of remembering a loved one. The young woman is holding sprigs of rosemary, a symbol of remembrance.
The back side reads, "Keeping treasured memories close."
Working Through Grief During The Holidays - Video
Working through grief when you've lost a loved one is always difficult, but it can be especially trying during the holidays. Learn how one family is coping with the holidays from WCVBtv.
Light a Candle
2. Light a Candle
Light a candle or a lantern can be another special way to remember a loved one.
You might choose to have a memorial candle as part of your holiday decorations. You might light a candle in a church or as part of a special candle lighting ceremony.
The World Candle Lighting remembers children who have died too soon. Many hospice programs offer a special candle lighting tree.
Remembrance and Memorial Candles
Lantern Lighting Tradition in Tangled
One of the scenes from the new Disney movie Tangled touched my heart. It was the lantern lighting.
When Rapunzel was little her parents lit a wish lantern on her birthday. Then every year on her birthday they lit more wish lanterns along with the rest of the kingdom.
The scene where everyone was releasing their flying lanterns was truly amazing. As I watched the scene I couldn't help but think that lighting wish lanterns or flying lanterns would be a great healing event or tradition for those missing a loved one.
Flying Lanterns - Wish Lanterns
According to the product description, the Sky Lanterns or Wish Lanterns are made from flame resistant paper. When the Sky Lantern has burned out it will gently float back to the ground. Sky Lanterns are made from rice paper and bamboo so they are completely biodegradable.
5 sky lanterns in white
Tangled Lantern Lighting Scene
This scene was truly one of those moments in life that takes your breath away.
Decorate with Photos and Mementos
3. Decorate with Photographs and Mementos
Include photographs and/or mementos of your loved one.
As you put out the holiday decorations find a special place to put your loved one's photo or have a photo album on display.
You may want to include a single rose, a candle, a special statue, a vase of flowers or other mementos to create your own sacred space or altar for the loved one.
Remembrance Photo Gift Frames
Customize your own remembrance gift with a photo of your loved one.
Lantern Floating 2011 Hawaii - Video
This video shows the beautiful tradition of Lantern Floating Festival in Hawaii for Memorial Day 2011. People gather to honor lives lost in war, loved ones who have passed away, and pray for a future of peace and harmony from BongNpinoy.
Floating Wish Lanterns
The white Floating Wish Lantern are packaged in tens and are come with a tea light.
They are reusable and are 100% biodegradable.
Put Up a Stocking
4. Put up a Stocking for the Lost Love One
Hanging a Christmas stocking for the love one is another way of remembering the person who is no longer with you.
You might want to hang their old stocking.
You might choose to create a new Angel stocking.
Let family and friends write notes with their favorite stories that can be put into the stocking.
When everyone has gathered together you can read the notes and take a few moments to remember.
Image from Modified Microsoft Clipart.
Angel Stocking Kits
Create an Angel stocking to hang in memory of your loved one.
More Articles on Remembering a Loved on at the Holidays
- Remembering Loved Ones on Holidays, Anniversaries and Special Days
Sometimes bereaved persons feel sad not only that their loved one is no longer “here” but also that others seem reluctant to talk about him or her. Required business like removing names from documents, check books and even address labels, raise conce
- Remembering a Loved One During the Holidays - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedcontent.com
With the holiday season around the corner, most folks are anxiously awaiting the gift giving, family dinners, and peaceful gathering of loved ones. Yet for some people, when the holidays roll around, the upcoming celebration is often nothing more tha
- Holidays After the Death of a Loved One
Facing the holidays after the death of a loved one can seem overwhelming. This is especially true if the person passed during a holiday season. There are ways to overcome your grief and enjoy holidays again.
- Remembering Loved Ones this Holiday Season
As I watch my children, the holidays are met with such excitement and anticipation. The trees are up, the Christmas lists are done, and now it's just a matter of counting down the days on the Advent Calendar. It's all just so simple for them.
- Remember lost loved ones during holidays | The Franklin County Times
We all have fond memories of those who have passed from this walk of life. But it seems this time of year that some of our cemeteries looks so sad and empty when you pass by them.
- Actively Aware: Coping with the Holiday when Your Loved One is Missing
Our Thanksgiving memories will live on through the generations, whether we are all physically together or not. They are rooted in the heart and soul, and no storm of life can take them from us.
Remembrance and Sympathy Dove Ornament available on Amazon
Serve Favorite Foods
5. Serve their Favorite Holiday Foods
Another way of remembering is to prepare and serve the loved one's favorite holiday food.
At a first holiday without the love one, you might want to prepare all of their favorite dishes and have the entire meal be of the loved one's favorites.
As the years go by, you may want to have a single holiday dish served in memory of the loved one, picking a dish that most everyone else enjoys as well.
Remember with Music
6. Remember with Songs and Listening to Music
There are many ways of remembering a loved one with music by singing, caroling or listening to holiday songs. You might want to listen to sad holiday songs that help you express the grief in music.
You could spent time while decorating, cooking or preparing for the holidays by listening to their favorite music. Other ways of remembering would be to sing their favorite holiday songs at a family gathering.
You might also want to go caroling, bringing music to those who are shut in (nursing homes, hospitals) in their memory.
I Miss You Most at Christmas Time - Video
Music video by Mariah Carey performing Miss You Most (At Christmas Time).
Set a Place at the Table
7. Set an Empty Place at the Table, Say a Prayer
Read one of the articles on "The Empty Chair" at the holiday table. You might discuss with your family how best to honor the memory of a loved one who has died.
Perhaps it will be to set a place for them at the table and have a physical reminder of the Empty Chair. Others might choose to offer a special remembrance toast or to include the departed love on in holiday prayers or blessings at the start of a family meal.
The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions
Authors of The Empty Chair, Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. De Vries invite you to journey through grief toward life-giving healing.
More Articles about the Empty Chair
- The Empty Chair Around The Holiday Table, Remembering a Loved One at the Holidays - PEACE4 THE MISSI
Many Americans will be sitting down together around the dinner table very soon, to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza. These dinners re-enforce a sense of shared family values, a feeling that all is right with the world as long as we can be toge
- Empty Chair at the Holiday Table
As the mother of a soldier who spent two of the last four holiday seasons as a military policeman in foreign lands, Elaine Ambrose learned to cope with the anxiety while offering positive reinforcement and support.
- When There's an Empty Chair at the Holiday Table...
"I don't know how we are going to get through Christmas without my Daddy." Ten year old, Emily said to me, tears in her eyes on a routine bereavement visit to her home following the death of her father.
- Grief in Times of Celebration: The Empty Spot
Grieving the death of a family member or close friend is hard, exhausting work. This work may be especially difficult during holiday seasons, and other days that are filled with family and community traditions, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and m
- The Empty Chair
There's an empty chair in our house and I am not sure what to do with it.? It's been empty a long time and although we've moved more than a few times since it became empty, we still haul it around with us.? It's not a particularly classic chair or ev
Heartache - When Holidays Hurt Video
When you're grieving, the trappings of the season can almost taunt you; ironically, the traditions, laughter and general cheer can also rekindle painful emotions like longing and loss.
Marriage and family therapist Dr. Carol Podgorski from the University of Rochester Medical Center gives encouragement and support during the holidays.
Do a Random Act of Kindness
8. Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Give and Get Hugs
There are many ways to practice Random Acts of Kindness (or even Random Acts of Culture) in memory of a loved on at the holidays.
- Adopt a family in need for the holidays and provide them with gifts and meals.
- Give gifts to children for a local giving tree.
- Bring used items, blankets, food to a homeless shelter.
- Gather toiletries, knit a scarf for a women's shelter.
- Check with the local animal shelter to see what types of items are on their Christmas Wish List and them get them some.
- Establish a scholarship in memory of the loved one.
- Give Free Hugs.
Read about Random Acts of Kindness
The classic book that started it all, Random Acts of Kindness, a new edition from Conari Press.
Find out about the Kindness Project
The Kindness Project began in 1996 as a way for families to honor their deceased child and to help themselves heal.
Now, years later, more than 1,000,000 Kindness Project cards have been used around the world to perform random acts of kindness in memory of a child, parent, friend, or spouse who died before their time.
- MISS Foundation : Kindness Project
The M.I.S.S. Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 international organization providing immediate and ongoing support to grieving families and reducing infant and toddler death through research and education.
- MISS Foundation : Kindness Cards
Learn more about Kindness Cards.
Christmas Food Court Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob - Video
To lift your holiday spirits watch this Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob perform in November at The Welland Seaway Mall in Ontario. You may be inspired to organize your own Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob.
Give Free Hugs
Hug a Scented Stuffed Toy
Scented stuffed toys can be very helpful and comforting for children and adults grieving a loss.
An aromatherapy plush lavender bear
Donate to Charity
9. Donate to a Favorite Charity
Donating to a charity is a great way to doing good at the holidays.
You can contribute the money that would have been spent on a gift to their favorite charity or make a donation to a particular charity in their memory.
12 Ways to Get You in the Christmas Spirit
12 Ways to Get You in the Christmas Spirit are featured in more depth at the Christmas Spirit lens. Taking a bit of time to get into the Christmas Spirit may help when facing a holiday without a loved one. Besides celebrating the season is very likely what you loved one would have wanted you to be doing for the holidays.
- Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas.
- Volunteer Your Time to a Charity Cause.
- Listen to Christmas Music or Go Christmas Caroling.
- Share the Christmas Spirit with a Homemade or Handcrafted Gift.
- Decorate Your Home for the Holidays.
- Read a Favorite Christmas Story.
- Do Something Nice for Someone Else.
- Watch a Christmas Movie.
- Organize a Local or Online Holiday Charity Fundraiser.
- Give a Gift that Gives More.
- Wish People You Meet - Happy Holidays.
- Do Something for the Environment and Reduce, Recycle or Reuse.
Create a New Traditon
10. Create a New Tradition
One very helpful way of helping to recognize that the holiday is different, particularly the first holiday after the death of a loved one, is to create a new tradition.
Have the family talk (or email) and take a look at the family traditions. Decide which traditions you want to keep and which traditions might be changed.
You might decide to spend the holidays at a different family member's home. You might decide to take a trip for the holidays.
Take a look at these articles for even more ideas on creating new Christmas customs and traditions.
More Articles on Creating New Holiday Traditions
- New holiday traditions help grieving families
This is a time of year typically filled with joyous moments spent with beloved relatives and friends. However, the holiday season can be an especially difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. Because the holidays are filled with long-stand
- Re-Creating Holiday Traditions Ideas for Families Facing Loss and Transitions By Tina Barrett and Me
For families in transition, the holidays often represent one of the most difficult times of the year. Inevitably we are surrounded by reminders of "the holiday season" in public places, on TV and on the radio. The lights, music, gifts and evergreen m
- How to Create New Christmas Traditions: 5 Ideas for New Family Traditions & Holiday Celebrations
Why learn how to create new Christmas traditions? It's a great way to unite families and revive holiday celebrations! Use these tips for creating new Christmas customs.
- Holidays and Grief: Incorporating Those We Lost into Traditions | Blog Archive Memorial Service &
Holidays are always spent with loved ones: this is the image we are always shown on TV and on advertisements leading up to big events celebrated in November and December. But this is an image that is hard to see and think about when coping with loss
- Thanksgiving Was Her Holiday: Holiday traditions after a mother's death | Hello Grief
Thanksgiving was the favorite holiday Author Alisha Krukowski's mother. Her death has changed the holiday, and the way her family celebrates it. They have all made some choices, changes, and compromises along the way and have slowly figured out what
Hope Your Holidays are Happier Ones
Happier Holidays adapted from Raindrop Texture by Nossirom.
More of My Articles on Coping with the Holidays
- Suggestions for Dealing with the Holiday Blues - Grief Support at LegacyConnect
It is important to recognize it is not unusual to feel sad or depressed during the holiday season or around other special dates.
- NICU Parent Support Blog: Celebrating Christmas in the NICU
Christmas in the NICU can be a very challenging time for NICU parents. Instead of being able to wrap gifts and decorate a tree, they are spending hours in the NICU worried about the health and well being of their new baby and trying to survive this m
- Making it a Merry Christmas in the NICU
Christmas is a time when people think they will be "merry" and have "happy holidays" but these can be challenging emotions for NICU parents to feel. They are spending their baby's first Christmas in the hospital, in the NICU, rather than at home with
More Tips for Getting Through the Holidays
- Facing the Holidays When You've Lost a Loved One
Remember that even at their best, holidays can be stressful. So, make taking thoughtful and loving care of yourself your number-one priority for the holidays from Judith Johnson.
- Getting Through The Holidays After The Loss Of A Child, From Dr. Gail Saltz (WATCH)
Holidays can be especially difficult for those who have lost a child. In order to keep your child's memory alive, psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz advised creating a memorial during the holidays and involving your family members.
- Getting Through the Holidays: 10 Practical Suggestions - Grief Support at LegacyConnect
No matter what your faith or whether you celebrate religiously or secularly, there seems to be no avoiding that holiday fever that surrounds us all at this time of year.
- Getting Through the Holidays ... 10 Tips for Those Who Grieve
Holidays are difficult days for the bereaved. Bereavement literally means to be robbed. The holidays are a time of giving but all we could think about was what was taken from us. For many, the most difficult holiday of the year is Christmas. This day
- Getting Through The Holidays
When our loved one dies, we grieve not only for that individual, but also for the life we used to have, the love that special someone gave us and all the memorable times we spent together.
How do you remember your loved ones at the holidays?