Losing someone you love can be one of the most difficult things you ever experience. It leaves a void in your life, which could be filled with pain, bitterness, and sometimes anger. While sadness is a normal reaction to death, you must be careful not to be engulfed by grief.
Each human being leaves behind a legacy. Whether their life was short or long, that individual touched other lives, had passions and interests, and embraced causes dear to them. The best way to honor the person you mourn is to honor their legacy. It can be healing to commemorate who they were, what they liked, and what they wanted from the world. When you’ve lost someone dear to you, here are five meaningful ways you can honor them.
1. Contribute to a Cause
If your loved one battled a long-term illness like cancer, you likely realize how patients need so much more than just medication. In the departed’s honor, extend a helping hand to patients who now struggle with the same disease. These individuals may not be able to get treatment without physical, social, and financial support from people like you. Check out sites like pinkfund.com, where you can fundraise, sponsor survivors, and help breast cancer patients, all through one platform.
If you cannot contribute financially, invest your time and volunteer at local fundraisers. Running charity 10Ks may not be your forté, but you can still register runners and hand out race number bibs. These events are a wonderful place to network with others going through similar situations. Your firsthand experience with the illness could give others the sort of emotional support they may not get from doctors. It can also help you with the grieving process.
2. Make a Montage of Memories
One of the most difficult parts in the grieving process is managing a loved one’s belongings after their death. Many items have a memory attached, and parting with them can make your heart heavy. Some items can be kept as heirlooms for future generations. However, it’s not realistic to store everything — you may simply lack the space. Instead of making the departed’s belongings your home’s new clutter, repurpose little pieces of the objects into a collage of memories.
The collage could consist of a frame with pictures of various phases of your loved one’s life, along with snippets of their handwriting. Swatches of fabric from their favorite clothes or some jewelry can be added to give it a three-dimensional look. Another idea is to place a memory jar on a fireplace mantle next to the frame. Fill the jar with handwritten note cards about excerpts from their life. This is one way to keep the person’s memory alive for you and your family.
3. Keep Them Close
Another artistic way to keep your loved ones close to you, even after their death, is through a personalized memento. In a riff on Victorian mourning practices, you could keep a lock of the departed’s hair in a glass vial or locket. In similar fashion, their fingerprint could be engraved on items such as pendants, book marks, or cufflinks.
Memorial jewelry lets you maintain some form of physical connection with the departed. It can make you feel like your beloved friend or family member is still with you. People wear these items on occasions like graduations and weddings, at times when they miss their loved ones the most.
4. Start a Tradition
It is natural to miss your loved one daily, but certain days hit harder. It could be their birthday or your wedding anniversary, the day you met or the day you learned their diagnosis. Whatever the specific trigger, there are just some days when you miss them more than usual. You could spend these days grieving in bed, or you could make these days special for you and your family. Start a tradition to commemorate such days the way the departed would have wanted.
Invite relatives over to remember and celebrate the family member who is no longer with you. Put on their favorite music, wear their signature color, serve their favorite meal, and watch old home videos. You’ll be surprised how every gathering will bring up some special memory from the past. Such events rekindle family bonds and help you support each other emotionally.
5. Support Others
Joining grief support groups is another method for coming to terms with losing a loved one. Sharing your experiences and vocalizing feelings has a therapeutic effect and can help release pent-up emotions. Even without a formal group, try to reach out to other people who are going through similar experiences. These connections will help you as much as they will help others.
After the death of someone close, you can become more sensitive and more empathetic, says MarieCurie. These qualities are precious and should not be left to wither away. By volunteering at a hospice or senior citizen center, you can help people who remind you of your loved one. Just reading to them or chatting with them may help you slowly fill the void in your life.
Beginning a New Chapter
You are shaped by your relationships. Therefore, the death of a close family member or friend may make you feel like you’re not the same person anymore says Mind. It may be difficult, but it is imperative for your own health to gradually return to your life.
Don’t feel guilty about enjoying something without the departed. Instead, think of how they might have loved the joke, the song, the activity, or the location and appreciate it for them, too. Keep them with you in spirit, even if they are not with you in person.
Focus on the happy moments you had with them and talk about your feelings. If needed, reach out to a grief counselor for professional help. Take your time and don’t feel rushed to “get back to normal.” Moving on doesn’t mean that you have to forget your loved one. It means that you carry on with your life while cherishing their memory.
Last Updated: May 8, 2023