Grief and loss are intensely personal experiences, but most of our rituals for honoring or remembering a loved one who has died are public and social. This can be a great way to connect with others and gain support during a time of mourning, but you may also want a more private, reflective way to express your sadness, loss, or other emotions and to remember the person you are grieving.
When my grandpa died this February, I knew that I was not going to be able to attend his funeral service. I still wanted to honor him and find a way to process my feelings about him. Here is a list of 10 ideas I have for privately honoring a departed loved one.
1. Wear something they gave you or that reminds you of them.
This could be a piece of jewelry, dogtags, or even a hat that is in the style of one your loved one used to wear.
2. Visit a place that you enjoyed with them
Returning to places that you enjoyed with your loved one can be difficult, but it’s also one of the best ways to gain some closure while also honoring them.
3. Create art or write in remembrance of them
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be an artist or writer, what matters here is the thought and emotion that you put into creating your memorial piece.
4. Create a photojournal or scrapbook
If you’re into photo journaling or scrapbooking, this can be a great way to create a visual memorial for your loved one. All it takes is a few pictures, some time, and a little imagination. (Just make sure is that the photos you are using are replaceable or not the only copies.)
5. Volunteer, donate to, or otherwise support a charity that they supported.
Did your loved one support a charity or cause? If so, you can donate directly or even create a crowdfunding campaign to collect donations in their name. Sites like GoFundMe and YouCaring allow you to set up fundraisers for a charity of your choice and collect donations from others.
6. Write a letter
If you have unresolved feelings or things that you need to say to your loved one, a good way to bring yourself some closure is to write a letter. Once it’s done, you can create a small ritual around releasing it, or you could keep it in a special keepsake box.
7. Light a memory candle
Candles are used in many spiritual traditions as a way to memorialize those who have died. They’re a simple, inexpensive way to remember someone.
8. Go somewhere they wanted to go and document it.
Maybe you and your loved one always talked about going on a special vacation or a pilgrimage. You can still go on a trip like this, and create a photo diary, blog, or scrapbook to document it.
9. Wind Chimes
A set of wind chimes that you purchase or make with your loved one in mind can be a great reminder that they are still close to you.
10. Grow a Plant or Even a Tree
If you have a green thumb and the little space, growing up plant or tree as a memorial for your loved one is a great way to give them a continued presence in your home and life. There are also organizations that plant trees for conservation and will accept donations in memory of a lost loved one.