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How to honor lost loved ones during the holidays

Grieving the loss of someone special is never easy, but the holidays can be an especially challenging time. After all, the holiday season is usually when loved ones gather and partake in treasured family traditions. It’s only natural to be reminded of those you’ve lost and to feel the sadness of that loss.  

But the holidays also provide an opportunity to honor their memory. With your loved ones together, you can celebrate the lives of those no longer here, reminisce over your favorite stories, and find comfort in your shared grief. 

If you’re grieving a loved one during the holidays and looking for ways to honor them, follow our list for inspiration. 

7 ways to honor loved ones during the holidays 

Everyone grieves in their own way. Maybe you find comfort in your tried-and-true traditions, or perhaps you’d rather create a fresh start. This holiday season, consider trying one or more of these ways to celebrate and remember your loved ones. 

1. Continue family traditions

If you’re wondering how to honor a loved one during the holidays, perhaps one of the best ways is to continue celebrating the way you always have. Just think; your loved one wouldn’t want you to miss out on the fun because they’re no longer here. Maybe you and your son always baked cookies on the first night of Hanukkah, or your Dad drove your family around to see the holiday lights every Christmas Eve. Continuing these annual traditions may help you feel closer to them. 

2. Create new traditions

On the contrary, when you’re missing a loved one during the holidays, you may find it too difficult to engage in the same traditions you once shared. If that’s the case, it’s time to make some new traditions. Instead of hosting the holidays at your home this year, why not rent a cabin with your relatives? Or rather than cooking a feast like usual, order in from your favorite restaurant. Creating new traditions may help spark some newfound joy in you this holiday season. 

3. Give to charity 

Another special way of remembering someone who has passed is to give back in their name this holiday season. Did your brother have a favorite cause? Instead of exchanging gifts with your relatives, consider pooling your money together and making a shared donation to his favorite charity. Or round up his closest friends and spend the holiday volunteering for an organization that resonated with him. 

4. Watch videos or photomontages

When grieving a loved one during the holidays, you might be longing to hear their voice or see their smiling face. To help with your grieving process, gather your loved ones and watch home videos of your sister as a kid or create a montage of all your favorite photos of your grandmother. You can even get your friends and family involved by asking them to send you their own video clips and images. Everyone will love laughing and crying along with the images while remembering those cherished memories. 

5. Design a memory book 

Creating a photo album or scrapbook is another way of remembering a loved one on the holidays. You might consider printing photo books filled with images of your uncle and gifting them to all your cousins. Or maybe you’d like to design a scrapbook dedicated to your grandfather and showcase it on the mantelpiece for all your relatives to enjoy during their stay. These living reminders can offer peace and comfort to those who are grieving. 

6. Leave an empty seat at the dinner table

You don’t have to ignore the fact that your loved one is no longer here. To celebrate their memory, leave their seat open at the dinner table during the holidays. This allows everyone to acknowledge their loss. Your friends and family may be more inclined to reflect on their loved one or share stories of their time together. 

7. Make decorations in their memory

Making holidays decorations to honor them is an activity that may be especially meaningful to children missing a loved one during the holidays. If your kids just lost someone, maybe they would like to craft a special ornament for the Christmas tree in their memory. Or maybe your little ones would like to decorate a photo to leave next to their menorah. Save these decorations and display them for years to come. 


This holiday season may feel different for you, but we hope you find comfort in these suggestions. However you decide to honor your loved one, just remember, they’d want to see you enjoying this special time of year. 

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