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Remembering Your Loved One During the Holiday Season


Love Lives On:
Remembering Your Loved One During the Holiday Season
The holidays may be a bittersweet time for those who have lost a beloved family member or friend, because memories and holiday traditions are associated with this special person. It’s often challenging to find new ways to celebrate the holidays, while holding onto precious memories of the past.
In advance of the holidays, we wanted to share some thoughtful notes we received about the challenges individuals faced, along with ways they remember their loved ones while beginning new family traditions.

Challenges During the Holidays

I never know what might trigger the “tougher” times during the holidays.

Leading up to the holidays is very difficult, the photos on the wall, the cards and letters that come out of the boxes when we start to decorate the house, the memories…

I don’t want to go to parties by myself. Seeing my friends with their spouses is a reminder that my husband is no longer here.

My mom was the glue in our family, and the holidays were a time for us to celebrate at her home. After her death the house was sold, since then I’ve lost touch with my sisters and the holidays have never been the same.

Our anniversary is during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays magnify the loss of my wife and I feel very isolated and alone.

The first year was overwhelming- I couldn’t put up a tree or even buy presents. With the passage of time I am now able to decorate again and celebrate the holidays in a new but different way.

I miss our old family traditions.

I lost my only sibling, and feel guilty when I am not at home to celebrate the holidays with my parents.

Everybody’s loss is custom made but I can only tell them to find courage in as Wordsworth said, “…in what remains behind”, and in the bravery our children give us in order to create a life without our loved ones because we have a choice and they did not.


Ways to Cope
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Surround yourself with people who love and support you
  • Try to avoid “cancelling” the holiday, but take small steps to participate
  • Allow yourself to feel joy, sadness and anger
  • Draw comfort from doing things for others
  • Take care of yourself

Remembering Your Loved Ones and Creating New Traditions

I have a Nativity set that belonged to Michael's aunt. Every Christmas Eve Michael would place the infant Jesus in the manger at midnight. We continue to do the same. It was a tradition that I don't want to get lost.

Connecting with Ron's classmates, co-workers and friends during the holidays makes everyone miss him a little more, but each year there are new stories that are told and more memories are made.

Last year I started a new tradition. I will now be spending the Holidays with my son and his family in South Carolina…our new tradition of sharing the Holidays together works for both of us.

When we light the menorah during Hanukkah we select a special candle to light in memory of our grandmother. 

During the holidays we have dinner with several of our friends and their families. We each bring a special dish, exchange presents and share our family traditions. Those we lost are always remembered when we join hands and say grace before the meal.

Our family often “takes a break” from staying at home during the holidays. We choose a vacation spot, and gather in a festive setting where all our activities are planned. It’s nice to get away from it all.

The first several years we had a family gathering at the cemetery where we decorated a small tree with our son’s mementos. We lit a candle, said some prayers and talked about our fond memories. 

  • Maintain family traditions
  • Use your loved one’s old recipes to make a special holiday dish
  • Share memories and personal stories
  • Take a moment to look at family photo albums and home videos
  • Commemorate your loved one’s life by lighting a special candle or placing a wreath at their grave
  • Spend the holidays with extended family and friends
  • Make a memorial ornament or decorative piece to display
  • Donate to a charity in your loved one’s name
  • Volunteer to help others in need by giving your gift of time
  • Spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one
  • Celebrate the holidays with your family in a vacation destination
  • Write a letter to your loved one
  • Include a personal remembrance on their Living Memorial guestbook page

“The memories of our loved ones are stored in our heart and soul… they are forever and eternal” – Necole Stephens

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