It’s been a few years since a loved one passed away, and with each year that goes by they become more distant from our present life. It’s not that we don’t want to remember them. We do. It’s just that finding a way to do that can be difficult without being sad, or morbid, or seeming silly and sentimental after so much time has passed. But here are a few ideas you may want to consider that will help keep your precious loved one’s stories, memories, and legacy a vibrant part of your family’s lives:
- Begin hosting an annual remembrance service with family and friends. Make it upbeat so that it’s a fun celebration of your loved one’s life rather than a sad remembrance of their passing. If your loved one enjoyed fishing, host an annual fish fry in his or her honor. If the person loved the music from a certain decade, say for example the 70’s, then host a 70’s party where everyone comes dressed for the part and lots of great 70’s music is played. This will create a fun atmosphere for sharing those special memories, and making new ones.
- Put together a remembrance pillow or quilt. One woman helped her children to remember their dad by letting them pick out one of the long sleeved shirts he always wore, and then having the shirt made into a “hug pillow.” The shirt and sleeves were stuffed, and Velcro tabs were placed at the cuffs. When the kids felt lonely or were missing their dad, they could hug the pillow and fasten its arms around themselves so they could be reminded of how their dad would hug them. Other families have created remembrance quilts, allowing each family member to create a square that helps them celebrate their loved one.
- Others choose to create a memorial garden with a commemorative bench. The living beauty of the garden helps to remind us of the beauty of a life now passed. A memorial garden provides a serene place to sit, reflect, and remember our loved ones, and when we do this we bring them close to us again in our minds and hearts.
- Go fly a kite—and we mean that in the best of ways. Invite family and friends to go kite flying. Buy a bunch of kites from the dollar store in bright colors and patterns. Let everyone choose the one they like best or the one that makes them think of the individual that is being honored. As the kites sail towards the skies, let it be a reminder of how our loved one’s soul sailed to heaven, or how their spirit is happy and free.
- Make a donation of finances, time, or service in honor of the deceased. Think about what was important to that person and make your donation accordingly. If they loved children, perhaps a financial gift to organizations like the Children’s Miracle Network or St. Jude’s would be appropriate. If they were an environmentalist, you can get a group of people together to do a street, highway, or beach clean-up. The Department of Public Works is always happy to have such volunteers, and it will be something meaningful for your friends and family as well.
If these ideas aren’t right for you, we hope they will help you to begin brainstorming ideas that are more appropriate for your family. It is never too late to honor someone who has journeyed through our lives, who gave us love, or taught us right from wrong. Be creative and their memories can, and will, endure for generations yet to come.