During the holiday season, many of us experience new emotions of grief as we remember our loved ones. Memories of holidays past and wishes for what could have been, make it difficult to feel the “holiday spirit” that the world around us tells us to have. We have written many posts about these emotions here on our blog; one that you can find here. In this blog post, we are going to talk about activities you can do as a family to honor and remember your loved one.
- Memory Jar. Recently we made this activity in our groups as the holidays approached. All you need is a mason jar, a square of fabric for the top, stickers to decorate the jar, and slips of paper to write memories on. Place the jar on your table or in another special family spot, and allow family members to write down memories and place them in the jar. These memories can then be read aloud during a meal or can be kept for a particularly difficult day.
- Memory Ornament. This is another activity we made with our groups here at The WARM Place. You need a clear, plastic ornament, ribbons, beads, glitter, and anything else of special meaning that may fit in the ornament. You also need a small square of paper to tie to the ornament with ribbon. Allow members of the family to place special things that remind them of their loved one in the ornament. It may be a ribbon of his or her favorite color, letter beads that spell out the loved one’s name, or other symbolic items. The ornament can also be decorated on the outside with permanent markers. The ornament can then be placed on the tree or anywhere of family significance.
- Family Activity. Think about a fun family activity you could do in honor of your loved one. Did she or he have a favorite restaurant to eat at? A favorite movie to watch? A favorite park to visit? Choose a time as a family to do one of these things in honor of him or her, and share your memories then. Your family may want to create a memory journal or a photo album. Some families like to create a picture frame for the holidays to keep in a special spot. Be sure to include your children in picking the activity, or perhaps let each child choose an activity to do as a family.
- Act of Service. Consider doing an act of service in honor of your loved one. What charity or organization did she or he support? Could you do a special collection or donation in his or her honor? Could you serve a meal there or bring cookies to the staff? What can you do to support that organization that also honors your loved one? For example, one of our families shared that their loved one always helped homeless people, so they are collecting blankets for a homeless shelter. Another said their family loved to do yard work, so they are helping their elderly neighbors by raking up their leaves.
- Time to Grieve. Finally, remember to make time to honor your loved one. Whether your family enjoys going to the cemetery together, releasing biodegradable balloons, or simply sitting together and sharing memories, take time to grieve this holiday season.
Remember, there is no “right way” to honor your loved one during the holidays. Take time to communicate and share what works for you, and listen to what other members of your family prefer. During these upcoming weeks, take a deep breath, and take it one day at a time.