31 Ways to Remember a Loved One During Christmas

A December's worth of ideas to help you honor a loved one

Gregory Adams/ Moment/ Getty Images

For those grieving the death of a loved one, the holidays can prove particularly difficult. Regardless of when the loss occurred, we often feel the absence of a beloved family member, friend or pet most keenly during the Christmas season because our holiday memories, traditions and rituals involved him or her. This article offers 31 ideas -- one for each day in December -- to help you honor and remember your deceased loved one and find some peace during the Christmas holiday season.

• Whether on your computer or using pen and paper, journal about your favorite Christmas holiday memories with your loved one, and continue adding entries each year thereafter.

• Purchase and light a special candle or small electric lamp to signify your loved one's presence in your heart and mind during the holidays.

• Get out and exercise, particularly after a heavy holiday meal, by walking the route or visiting the park you associate with your beloved pet.

• When you host a Christmas holiday meal, prepare your loved one's favorite dish and make this fact known to your guests as you serve it.

• Make a special holiday ornament using items from around your house or purchased from a craft store, and then hang it in a place of honor on your Christmas tree or in your home.

• Write a note to your loved one, attach it to a helium-filled balloon, and release it outside. (This generally proves more cathartic than you might think.)

• Donate food or a meal to those who might otherwise go hungry during the Christmas season.

• Create a "memory capsule" by placing significant reminders of your beloved -- such as cards, letters, photographs, souvenirs and other mementoes -- in a sturdy container and burying it in the ground. Hold a small ceremony, if you wish, to honor the occasion after deciding upon a future "do not open until" date.

• Visit your loved one's gravesite, share your feelings with him or her and leave a small holiday wreath, ornament or other memento.

• Purchase a gift with your beloved in mind, wrap it and give it to someone less fortunate in memory of your loved one.

• Create a tribute video using computer software that incorporates your favorite photographs and/or existing video of your beloved, set it to music and share it with your family members and friends during the holidays.

• Make a financial contribution to a cause your beloved would champion, whether in his or her name, or anonymously.

• Sing along/out loud to your loved one's favorite Christmas carol(s)/song(s). You can do this by yourself or with family members and friends.

• Take a road trip and spend the holiday in your beloved's favorite location, attending his or her favorite sporting or recreational event, or doing anything the two of you loved doing together.

• Volunteer your time to help a local service organization or your place of worship fulfill its mission of helping others.

• Create a memory board and display it in your home.

• Clean out your closet or dresser and donate your gently used clothing in your loved one's memory (particularly jackets, coats, gloves, hats, etc.) to others who might benefit from them.

• Watch your loved one's favorite Christmas holiday movie, whether by yourself or with other family members and friends.

• Ask your family members and friends to quietly add a small memento, favorite photograph or personal note to a "memory table" you set up in your home in your loved one's honor.

• Funeral homes, cemeteries and hospices often hold holiday remembrance services for surviving families served in the past that incorporates music, inspirational and/or religious readings, and a special memorial Christmas tree. Consider attending such a service this holiday season.

• "Adopt" a less-fortunate family during the holidays, whether through your church or other local charitable organization, and help make their holiday brighter in memory of your loved one.

• Purchase a special holiday ornament in memory of your loved one, and continue doing so each year thereafter.

• Hang a Christmas stocking and place a handwritten note to your loved one inside.

• During a holiday meal with family members and friends, make a special toast in your loved one's memory and/or ask everyone at the table to share their favorite holiday memory of the deceased.

• Bake cookies, make candies and/or create other special holiday treats and then deliver/donate them to an area hospice, nursing home, shelter or other caregiving facility.

• Create a "memory chain" by writing your favorite holiday memories, your present feelings or adjectives that reflect the deceased's special qualities onto long, narrow strips of colored paper (about 8" long by 1" high). Form interlinking loops with each piece to form a chain you can hang on your Christmas tree or use to frame a doorway.

• Participate in a local walk/run that raises funds to support a cause your loved one would champion, or to help find a cure for the illness/disease from which he or she died.

• Make a memorial wreath for your front door or above the hearth by adding ornaments, decorations and/or photographs of your beloved to a real/artificial holiday wreath.

• Create and give memorial gifts to family members, friends and others who knew your beloved. Gift ideas include personalized silicone wristbands, memorial window decals, framed photos, memorial garden stones, handcrafted items, etc.

• Purchase and decorate a small tabletop-size Christmas tree and deliver/donate it to an area hospice, nursing home, shelter or other caregiving facility.

• If weather and the season permits, plant a tree in honor and memory of your loved one to serve as a living reminder of the love you carry in your heart during the holidays, and all yearlong, despite your loss.

Related Articles:
When the Holidays Hurt
Letting Go of Grief
How to Survive Christmas Holiday Grief
How to Survive Thanksgiving Day Grief
How to Survive Valentine's Day Grief

Continue Reading