Remembering loved ones at Christmas

Tips for remembering loved ones at Christmas

The first Christmas after the death of a loved one can be hard. Whatever you’re experiencing this holiday season, whether it’s anger, sadness, joy, relief, or a combination of feelings, it's normal and to be expected. Holidays without the ones you love will likely always be an emotionally challenging time.

While there will always be a void from the loss of your loved one, there are many things you can do to remember, honour, and become connected to their life during Christmas. Think about all of the past traditions your loved one enjoyed doing during Christmas. Take one or a few of the traditions and create a small ceremony around it.

And if you’re fresh out of ideas, we’ve compiled a list of ideas to help you remember and honor your lost loved one this Christmas.

1. Purchase or make a personalised Christmas ornament.

Find a unique ornament for the tree that sums up a memory you had with your loved one or something they loved. It doesn’t need to be expensive and you can even create one if you’d like to express your creativity.

2. Embrace good memories during Christmas traditions.

Think or talk about your memories of your loved one as you experience these traditions without them this year. Maybe you even step in to do the tradition they led previously. 

3. Listen (or sing) their favourite Christmas songs.

Take the time to listen, sing, and maybe even dance to their favourite Christmas songs to help you feel connected to the love and memories you shared.

4. Watch their favourite Christmas movies.

This year, ask your family members to watch your lost loved one’s favorite Christmas movie. 

5. Make a memory wreath dedicated to your loved one.

A memory wreath is simply a wreath made with different photos or other keepsakes that remind you of your loved one. Put it somewhere you can easily see. 

6. Prepare your loved one's favourite dish or dessert.

Whether it’s a dish your loved one enjoyed cooking or eating, you can remember your loved one this Christmas by volunteering to prepare their favourite dish on their behalf.

7. Hang a Christmas stocking in their memory.

Keep their memories alive by hanging a stocking for them on the mantle. Add any notes you might like to share with them.  

8. Have a Christmas toast in their honour.

This year when everyone’s gathered together for Christmas, plan a toast to remember your loved one. 

9. Leave an empty seat or candle at the holiday table to honour them.

While this may intensify the emotions of grief for some, leaving an empty chair, place setting, or candle is a great way to allow the memory of your loved one to live on at Christmas dinner.

10. Share memories and look at photos.

Dig up the old photo albums and ask other family members to do the same. Maybe even start a shared digital album and ask family members to contribute photos that include your loved one.

11. Volunteer in their memory.

Finding a way to give back during the holidays is a great way to channel your grief into something that can help others.

Welcome the small moments of pleasure, joy, and gratitude this Christmas period. While they may seem impossible to find, they will be there waiting for you when you’re ready.

Remember to be patient with yourself, feel whatever it is you need to feel, and take time for self-care this Christmas season. Grief is cyclical and comes in waves of intensity.

The holiday season can be particularly intense, but you are not alone. Keep in touch with family and friends who want to help, encourage them to talk about your loved one and share stories. Grieving is not about getting over it. It is about learning how to live with it, and doing what you can to honor their life and the impact they made on you.