A card reading Merry Christmas set atop a plate and napkin

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

The holidays can be hard for families facing a loss — especially if this Christmas will be their first without their loved one.

 

So with Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some creative and unique ways families can keep the memories of a loved one alive.

 

Create a Holiday Journal

This is a great project, especially for families who want to get younger children involved. Have everyone share a holiday memory they have of their loved one. Record each memory in the journal, and pair the journal entries with photos or mementos to help the memories come alive. Your family can reread the journal each Christmas or even throughout the year.

 

Dedicate a Special Ornament

An ornament is a simple way to honor the memories of a family member each holiday season. As families decorate their Christmas tree each year, they can make placing a memorial ornament a new part of their tradition.

 

Serve a Loved One’s Favorite Meal

This is a great way to create a new tradition out of an old one. If a loved one had a famous holiday recipe or hosted a holiday dinner every year, continue their memory by making the dish around Christmas. Let others know the history or story of the dish, and consider leaving an empty chair at the table or giving a holiday toast to honor the deceased.

 

Visit the Gravesite

Making the trip out to the cemetery in winter might seem difficult, but if weather permits, it can be a very cathartic experience. Families can bring along a holiday wreath, an ornament, or other mementos to decorate the gravesite with.

 

Volunteer

Volunteering your time or efforts to those less fortunate can be helpful for the grieving process. Studies have shown that giving back to a good cause is beneficial to both our mental and physical well-being. And there’s plenty of ways to give back around Christmas time, like donating or volunteering at a food or clothes drive. Donating clothes or other items of their loved one can be comforting in knowing that the items will go on to help those in need. Organizations such as One Warm Coat do just that — they will collect old winter coats and distribute them to anyone in need.

 

Light a Memorial Candle

Candles have always played a special part in helping with the healing process. That small flicker of a flame is often an enduring symbol of comfort. Families can designate a special memorial candle to honor their loved one with. At the beginning of the holiday season, families can share memories or stories as they light the candle, and keep it lit as a reminder throughout the holiday season.

 

Make a Memory Gift

This idea might take some planning ahead. Throughout the year, a family can collect small mementos, write notes, save photographs and anything else that reminds them of a loved one. Store them in a special box or container and have it gift wrapped. Then on Christmas day, the family can unwrap the gift of memories and reminisce with others about each special item.

 

What other unique ideas do you have for honoring a loved one at Christmas? Share them with us in the comments!