It is hard enough to survive tragedy under normal circumstances, and even harder when we are surrounded by images and messages of togetherness and companionship.
Christmas is a time for families and friends, but for those grieving from a loss it can be the most difficult time of the year. When a loved- one is no longer with us, everything we touch, hear, and see can trigger memories which can overwhelm us with grief.
So what can we do to help ourselves and help others through such emotional times?
Think about things differently by keeping your loved-one’s memory alive by making them a lasting part of your Christmas celebrations. This can help to alleviate stress by getting family members friends to open up and talk about the deceased. Here are ten fantastic ideas to help keep their memory alive this Christmas season.
1. Make a recipe of something they were renowned for. Tracy Booth, owner of The MemorySmith, an online service specialising in creating personalised keepsakes, fingerprint jewellery collection and cleverly designed impression kits make perfect, handcrafted gifts, remembers her Nanna every time she makes chicken soup. Her good friend Kerry makes pumpkin pie every Christmas, and when Tracy’s mum brings out the welsh cakes, the memories just are enough to light up the rest of her day.
2. Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honour of your loved one. The MemorySmith has a range of customisable engravings for you to add a unique, personal touch to these decorations.
3. Ask family and friends to write down their best, funniest or most cherished memories of the ones you’ve lost. When everyone is gathered together, read the memories aloud.
4. Dedicate and display a photo album. Make sure it’s in a good location – somewhere visible, where your visitors will see it. Before you know it, your family and friends will be reminiscing and sharing cherished memories of their lost loved-ones.
5. Get out the old home videos. Emotional but very comforting to see your loved one. It’s a great opportunity for story telling going back over the good times.
6. Light a candle in honour of your loved one. The MemorySmith has a range of customisable candles available so that you can take comfort in seeing your loved-one’s face, or inspire your family and friends with a quote you know that they would have loved.
7. Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved-one. This may be their gravesite, their home, or a place they loved to visit. Tracy Booth likes read letters to the graves of her lost loved-ones, leaving it with them along with some flowers or wreath.
8. Pop on their favourite Christmas movies or listen to their favourite Christmas songs.
9. Give a framed photo of your loved-one to people who also miss them.
10. Talk about your lost loved-ones with your family and friends, and make sure that they are with you on your journey. Show pictures to the people who are left behind, tell them stories, and say a prayer over Christmas dinner to remind yourself that the ones you love never truly leave you.
Losing the people we love can be agonising, especially around Christmas when we’re supposed to be surrounded by family and friends. It is important to remember the strength they gave you and to remind yourself that they would have wanted you to remember them fondly, and not with sadness.