One of the most worrisome feelings a grieving person experiences is how to keep a sustaining memory alive after a special loved one has died. The most well intentioned condolences upon the death of a loved one often suggest that time will heal the pain, that letting go is essential to moving on with life, and that the memory of the loved will fade. To help your kids move through grief, a remembrance tradition can provide a place for healthy remembering–a way to grieve and recognize the person’s life and their impact on you and your kids’ lives. A combination of both tangible and intangible tributes can help keep a loved one alive.
Plant a tree or plant in your backyard. Say good morning and good night every day. Watch the tree grow and evolve through the seasons as if your lost loved one still has a life form. One windy day each summer, go to the park and fly a kite when the wind is right. Write a letter to the lost loved one about life in the last year, and tie it onto the string. Imagine that your loved one can read it while the kite is flying in the air.
Name a star. International Star Registry is an online organization in which you can actually purchase and name a star after your lost loved one. It’s a great way to reinforce that your loved one is shining bright and looking down on you. Continue to celebrate the loved one’s birthday every year. Go to their favorite restaurant and partake in their favorite activity, like golf, bowling, or a family friendly sports game.
Create a video of the loved one’s life by compiling their still pictures, cards, or mementos, and create a tradition of hosting a viewing party with friends and loved ones every year.
Keep the light on. Whether it be with a candle in the window, a night light, or another particular tradition, keep something shining bright in their honor–something that you can see daily, that is dynamic in nature. It doesn’t have to be 24/7. For instance, if you choose to keep a flame going with a candle, you can decide to light that candle on Sunday evenings for a specific length of time. Your traditions won’t stop your children from spontaneously remembering the pain of a lost loved one, but it can provide a safe haven for intentional remembering, grieving, and celebrating your loved one’s life.
Health Plan of San Joaquin can also provide grief strategies for you and your family.