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How to Memorialize a Loved One During the Holidays

How to Memorialize a Loved One During the Holidays 

During this time of family gatherings, religious services, baking, decorating and shopping, many of us are experiencing the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one. The added burdens that COVID-19 brings can make a loss feel even more difficult to cope with at this time. There may be some reluctance to celebrate when a loved one won’t be present, regardless of when the loss occurred. The smallest things – especially this time of year – can trigger tidal waves of grief, be it the smell of a favorite dish, an empty place setting at the table, a song, or your family’s favorite traditions. Grief can greatly diminish your holiday cheer. If you’re mourning a loved one this holiday season, it’s ok, and normal. Here are some ways to honor and remember them while helping cope with your grief.

It may, at times, seem impossible to see beyond your grief. Incorporating their memory into your holiday season can help ease the pain. We have a few ideas to help you and your family memorialize your loved one(s) this season:

  • Frame a picture of them and place it on your mantle or turn it into an ornament for a tree. Here at Miller-Jones, we hang photographs of our own loved ones on our company Christmas tree.
  • Make a hand-made cookbook with their favorite recipes and gift it to family and friends (or keep it for yourself).
  • Create a playlist of their favorite holiday (or non-holiday) songs and play it at gatherings, or pop in your earbuds when you need some downtime.
  • Adopt a pet from a local shelter in their memory. Animals have proven benefits for helping people through grief.
  • Visit and decorate their resting place. Write a letter or holiday card to them and place it at the site or somewhere at home.
  • Donate goods or services in their name to a local charity or cause they loved.

Grieving can be physically and mentally overwhelming, and it may be challenging to find ways to cope when your mind is elsewhere. Here are a few tips to make sure you are taking care of your needs:

  • Talk about your grief. You’re allowed to grieve and express your thoughts and feelings. Whether it be to a family member, close friend, religious leader, or therapist, it’s healthy to express what you’re dealing with.
  • Create boundaries with your time. This is crucial for avoiding holiday burnout. If you need to take time away from certain activities, do it, so you can recharge. It’s ok to decline invitations, or to leave events when you don’t feel like being there anymore.
  • Set realistic expectations. Remember, it’s normal to grieve. Understand that this time of year can be especially hard. There’s no shame in allowing yourself to feel your feelings.
  • Practice self-care. Check-in with yourself regularly and meet your needs. Whether it be a hot cup of tea in the evening, journaling every day, reading a book, watching a movie by yourself, or simply resting – take that time.

Miller-Jones is committed to helping our community through loss, at any time of year. We offer many online grief support resources. They include counseling, group grief support, daily email affirmations, and interactive videos that are available 24/7. To start, we suggest visiting our grief support guide. You’re also welcome to give us a call at any of our locations and we’ll answer any questions you have: (951) 658-3161.

For those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be more agonizing than joyful, and unwanted emotions can easily overtake the spirit of thanksgiving and cheer that typically hallmark the season. Whether this is your first, second, tenth, or even fiftieth holiday season without your loved one, your emotions are not at all uncommon, and they’re absolutely valid. At the same time, it’s important to try and manage that grief while still celebrating the season. There are many unique and meaningful ways to honor your loved one this holiday season – have a conversation with your family and friends about starting a tradition in memory of your loved one. You might find it brings comfort, and one day, even joy.

From all of us at Miller-Jones, we wish you and your family peace, joy, and good health this holiday season.