Losing people you love is never easy, but honoring their lives in ways that reflect their spirits goes a long way toward helping family and friends grieve in a healthy way and cherish the memories their loved ones left behind. Here are some suggestions on how to say goodbye to loved ones and commemorate their lives for years to come.
Your loved one may have already made funeral arrangements or outlined their wishes. If not, or if friends and family want to honor the deceased with something beyond a traditional service, a home memorial service can be an ideal way to personalize the process of saying goodbye, according to Redfin. A private home provides a more intimate setting than a funeral home or hall where many friends and family might feel more comfortable honoring the deceased and sharing stories about them.
You are also free to organize a home-based memorial service in a way that will make it the most meaningful for family and friends. For example, if your lost loved one was an avid gardener, you could forego traditional funeral arrangements in favor of flowers harvested directly from his or her garden. And if the person you are honoring loved heavy metal music, you’ll certainly feel more comfortable playing some favorite songs in a home than you would in a funeral home with other nearby services. Likewise, you can arrange for photos, videos and speakers who truly capture the spirit of your loved one and organize the food, drink, and setting to suit your attendees’ unique needs.
Readjusting to Life After Loss
After the immediate considerations of a funeral or memorial service are behind you, you’ll probably be seeking ways to deal with your grief going forward. The site mindbodygreen offers some suggestions including holding a drive in your loved one’s honor. For instance, if he was a lifelong animal lover, collect items for your local animal shelter and make a donation in his name.
Or, if you need to share your feelings, find a local or online support group made up of individuals going through similar experiences. There are support groups geared toward people who’ve lost loved ones to cancer, addiction, dementia and more. Hospitals, religious organizations, and nonprofit agencies are a good place to start for resources.
Keeping Memories Alive
Going forward, you might also want to establish ways to commemorate your loved one’s memory well into the future. If your dad was a nature lover, consider planting perennials to serve as an annual reminder of him when the fresh flowers reemerge each spring. Or, take to social media to organize a collective candle lighting ceremony at the same time each year on your mom’s birthday or favorite holiday. To maintain your own memories, you might collect pieces of some of her favorite party dresses to construct a quilt or use a cherished photo to inspire a painting.
If your lost loved one’s grave is marked by a headstone, you might choose to remember them by visiting and helping maintain the site. Wind, rain, extreme temperatures and other factors can cause discoloration, erosion and other deterioration. But properly cleaning the marker can help protect and preserve it. The methods and materials to clean a gravestone vary depending on the headstone’s composition, so you may want to seek help when it comes to cleaning, maintaining or restoring a marker.
Grief doesn’t end in a week, a month or a year. So, you should create meaningful ways to deal with your own emotions and honor the memory of your loved one because forging ahead doesn’t mean forgetting your loss — or your love.