Langley Hospice Society, a community-based, non-profit organization, provides compassionate support to help people live with dignity and hope while coping with grief and the end of life.

Grief doesn’t take a holiday

Langley Hospice Society offers some ways to honour a loved one during the Christmas season

Courtesy of the Langley Hospice Society

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Looking for ideas for remembering loved ones over the holidays…it can be a good time to pull your comforting memories close to you. Perhaps you can:

  • Find sustenance for the soul. Faith communities may offer services, resources, and support networks. You may want to look for support with people who are grieving.
  • Buy or make a special ornament or snow globe ; there are many Christmas ornaments made for displaying photos.
  • Buy a special photo frame or paint one and display a picture of your loved one.
  • Make a scrapbook about the person who died.
  • Visit a meaningful place.
  • Buy a gift that your special person enjoyed, i.e. chocolates or cookies, wrap them, then open them and share with others.
  • Hang a special stocking, fill it with notes, photos, special treats (chocolates, candies) that remind you of your person who died and share with others.
  • Send a charitable donation to an organization in memory of your loved one.
  • Christmas stocking stuffers: we usually fill stockings with the basics—socks, PJ’s, bath products. Donate these items to a local charitable organization in your community for those in need at Christmas in memory of your loved one.
  • Do things that bring comfort to you and your family: baking, decorating together, snuggling in blankets and watching movies.
  • Share special and fun stories of holidays past with your loved one.
  • Buy a special candle or decorate a candle holder and light the candle each year in their memory.
  • Write a special card of thoughts and wishes for your loved one who has died. The card can include stories of past holiday experiences, or stories about this Christmas and what was enjoyed. This time of year some cards have certain words written on them, use these words to help guide what to write: “Ho Ho Ho” – you could write about a funny time shared with your person; “Joy” – write about what brought you joy about your person; “Celebrate” – write about ways in which you plan to celebrate and honour your person in your life. Share these cards with each other, or put them away and read them at a time throughout the New Year when you feel ready, or next year, this could become a holiday tradition.
  • Create a Memory Tree: go for a walk in the park and collect one or two large branches that have fallen from a tree; take them home and spray paint them with your holiday decoration colours. Stand the painted branch in a Mason jar or vase filled with glass stones; again, you may want to choose your holiday colours or your person’s favourite colours. Have special gift card tags so that people can write down their memories of the person who died and hang them on the Memory Tree.
  • Create a holiday centrepiece or wreath. Add items or decorations that represent activities your person liked to do. Buy cardboard or wooden word cutouts like “Inspire”, “Love”, “Hope”, and use these words to guide stories of how your person has inspired you. Write a special memory and place it in the decoration or share hopes and wishes for the future.
  • Bring a candle. If family and friends are getting together over the holidays, ask each person to bring a special candle. Choose a table or some other surface to place the candles. Have each person light their candle and share a memory of the person; leave the candles lit for the rest of the evening.
  • Cook or bake your person’s favourite recipe.
  • Encourage children to embrace the memories that comfort them also. Allow the children in your life to teach you about their memories by drawing pictures or writing a story.
  • Decorate an outside tree. We are noticing more trees in parks and trails being decorated in memory of people who have died. If you had a special place where you walked with your loved one take some decorations and place them on a tree along the walk. You, your family and friends could decorate an outside tree at your home in honour of your loved one. You can change the decorations on the tree throughout the years to represent different holiday anniversaries and milestones.
  • Create an advent calendar using 25 cards; have people take turns and write a special memory of your person. With 25 small envelopes or boxes, put small treats or items that your person liked and take turns opening each one.
  • Create a calendar for the coming year with special photos of your loved one with family and friends, grief and inspirational quotes, and images you like.
  • Create a slide show, including photos of your loved one with family and friends. Add beautiful scenes of nature and favourite activities your person liked to do; include music and grief/inspirational quotes.
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