On ‘ordinary’ days it’s easy to wear the public mask on the outside and pretend all is well on the inside. But there’s something different about gatherings, especially on a holiday. The loss seems larger, more present, more painful. It can feel like a performance in a play as we wrestle with the increased intensity of our emotion. Usually, the others present at these holiday gatherings are also missing your person. Why not acknowledge the loss together? It’s often up to the griever to tell others how to help them and shared grief is helpful. Here are the top 10 ways my clients have memorialized their person during a holiday.
1. Leave an empty chair and place setting
2. Place a photo somewhere prominent.
3. Light a candle…maybe in front of that photo.
4. Toast the person at the start of the meal.
5. Go around the table and share a memory specific to this holiday.
6. Ask for a written memory specific to this holiday to put in a memory book. (Repeat this practice for any subsequent holiday and add it to the book.)
7. Plant a tree or flowers together.
8. Release balloons with messages written on them. (please remove the long strings first!)
9. Prepare your person’s favorite dessert…and tell the others that’s what you’ve done.
10. Ask for donations of non-perishable food and bring to a local food bank.