8 Creative Ways to Keep the Memory of a Loved One Alive
Contrary to what you might think, grieving is not a linear or even a 5 stage process. There is no timetable for grief because not everyone copes with tragic events the same way. You deserve to find your unique way of grieving beyond the traditional funeral.
For example, it’s essential to find ways to focus on the love and warmth your loved one’s presence brought to your life instead of the sadness their loss may cause. There are fewer painful ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive than visiting their resting place or flipping through old photos.
Have a Memorial Release
Release balloons, kites, butterflies, or doves in memory of a loved one. You can also blow bubbles in the wind or float flowers down a stream.
Physically releasing their souls is a symbolic gesture of not letting go but releasing your grief. Research suggests active coping mechanisms are most effective when dealing with grief-induced stress. Disengaged coping, such as avoiding your suffering, lessens your sense of control and psychological well-being. In other words, dynamically confronting your grief gives you more control and improved psychological well-being.
So light lanterns down a river, or host a nighttime vigil honoring their memory. Confronting your pain and then releasing it is crucial to preserving the memory of a loved one and finding your healing.
Plant a Garden in Their Memory
Creating a garden plot, whether wildflowers, daisies, or lilies, is an excellent way to honor the memory of a loved one. As author J.M. Barrie had said: “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
Even if you’re not a gardener, having a botanic, hidden world is one of the best ways to live in your loved one’s memory. Gardening is beneficial to your physical and mental health, especially during grief.
Create Something Special from Their Ashes
If your loved one was cremated, you could create something unique. It doesn’t have to be the traditional urn on the mantelpiece. You could plant a tree urn with your loved one’s ashes so when they grow into a sugar maple, weeping willow, or American elm, you can sit underneath them. Allow their memory to live on in nature.
Alternatively, turn their ashes into a cremation diamond, a ring, or a necklace. French artist Pierre Auguste Renoir said: “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” So it’s vital to choose anything that brings you more joy than sadness.
Keep an Heirloom with You
To preserve the memory of a loved one, turn their favorite coat into a blanket or pillows, or wear their wedding ring around your neck. That way, they’ll always be on your person.
Consider creating a keepsake (such as a locket of the two of you), or try upcycling, the process of “old” products being modified and transformed into “new” products. Examples are:
• Use their old cassette case to hold gift cards
• Turn an old briefcase into a bathroom cabinet
• Arrange vintage brooches into a bouquet
• Repurpose a bike wheel into a clock.
The ideas are endless.
Make a Charitable Donation in Your Loved One's Memory
Were they passionate about a cause? Donate a little to the charity or create a new one in memory of a loved one.
Giving can boost your mental and physical health; much needed after a loss. One study even found that people randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those who spent money on themselves.
Celebrate Their Birthday
Whether that's cooking their favorite dish or eating their favorite kind of cake, or doing the things they enjoyed doing, continuing this once-a-year tradition keeps the memory of a loved one alive like they never left.
The first birthday after they pass will be painful. To combat this, make it the joyous occasion it once was, complete with presents and balloons. Buy their favorite flowers, sprinkle the petals where their ashes or memories live, or post a loving tribute to them on My Stories Matter. Describe the experiences you used to have on their birthdays and the future ideas to continue those traditions.
Write Them a Letter, Poem, or Song
Is there anything you wished you had said to them before they passed? Is there anything on your mind currently? Update them on your day.
Even if you’re not a writer, poet or musician, express your thoughts to the person you love. For example, some people:
• Send text messages to their partner’s phone.
• Write a letter with their loved one’s favorite stationery.
• Write a postcard during their next vacation.
Journaling also decreases psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. You keep the memory of a loved alive, but you also inwardly move on because everything is off your chest.
Not sure where to write your thoughts? We created My Stories Matter for you to write down everything. Your letters will be kept safe and personalized.
Create a Life Stories Book
Creating a Life Stories Book is one of the best ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive because, thanks to you, their legacy will endure.
Write down details about their lives, such as their personalities, histories, and preferences. This keeps their memory alive for your children or grandchildren, so they will learn where they came from when they grow older. Or write about the impact a good friend had on your life, how their life inspired and shaped you into the person you are today.
With My Stories Matter, preserve the memory of a loved one with the appropriate photos, videos, news clips, and even their voice. You can also invite family and friends to add their contributions.
Grieving is not a straightforward, linear process. Keeping the memory of a loved one alive will look different for everyone, so find what speaks most to you and best represents the relationship you two had.