Christmas can be a wonderful time, but when you’ve lost a loved one it can definitely be difficult. Though it can take away some of the magic from this special time of year, it’s important to try and continue on. Sometimes that feels impossible, especially when you’re at a loss of what to do. Here’s some of my advice and tips on remembering a loved one at Christmas where you can allow yourself to still celebrate the festive season.
Make them part of your family gatherings
After losing my dad, it was unbearably hard to not see him sat at the dinner table, cracking his God awful jokes, hearing his voice and just being in his company. But since his passing, we have never let him be excluded from the dinner table, or any family gatherings. There are stories to be told and memories to be shared; now is the perfect time to do them. My dad was a real character and even if we’ve heard or told these stories a hundred times, we tell them again because it keeps us alive. Emotions can get high but we find that we feel more of the positive ones rather than the negative.
Visit a place which has meaning to you and your loved one
Whether it’s their resting place, somewhere you used to visit together or just a location which holds a fond memory, take some time out to go and visit there. I like to visit where we scattered my dad’s ashes which is on top of a mountain with a view of the two valleys he lived in; one he grew up in as a child and one where he lived for most of his life. It also has a photo of a bench he took as a photographer. I also like to visit St Fagans Museum from time to time as he used to take me there a lot as a child with my sister. It can be great to go there and reflect on your time with them and also let out any emotions that you may not want at home when you’re busy with family.
Do something in their memory
This could be absolutely anything! The first Christmas after my uncle passed away, we went to the church he used to attend where he also rang the bells. It was coincidentally my mother’s wedding day on Christmas Eve which was a small affair, so we changed out of our wedding attire and attended the Christmas Eve mass. We aren’t really religious, but it was a part of his life and a great place for us to feel connected to him.
Doing something for a worthy cause is also a great idea. Maybe there was a charity dear to their heart you could fundraise for such as a santa fun run or Christmas Day Sea Dash. Or, on a less extreme note but still giving back to worthy causes would be to buy charity Christmas cards or even gifts if they have any shops, online stores or a catalogue you could order from. There’s other things, too, like donating to a food bank, giving blood or anything charitable; make it personal by donating to a cause that relates back to your loved one or, if they were simply a generous person, carry out their acts of kindness for them.
Reach out to your loved one’s other loved ones
Sometimes when you lose a loved one, you also lose touch with people. They may have a side of the family you don’t keep in touch with as much or friends you used to speak. Get in touch with them, have a chat on the phone, meet up for coffee, just come together. Odds are, they’re feeling the same as you. Even after over 15 years since my Grandpa passed away, we still visit his sister – my auntie. We know he’d highly appreciate it and that she appreciates it, not to mention it’s so nice to see people you don’t often get to see. She’s included in our family visits and I’m always excited to visit my Auntie Margaret and catch up with her. It makes me feel close to my Grandpa, even though I was so young when he passed away.
Dedicate a decoration to them
My gran has a bauble with my uncle’s photo on which we had made a few years ago. There’s also decorations with this beautiful poem which is so lovely to bring out to give them a little space during your celebrations. My mother also makes sure to hang a piece of tinsel on my Grandpa’s portrait. Anything that can pay a little tribute to them to keep them included with the festivities is always a great idea.
Light a candle
A popular yet effective way to remember someone is lighting a candle. It can signify different things, such as healing the past and bringing hope to the future or signifying that person’s light in life or their spirit. You could light a simple tea light, buy a special candle or even make your own memorial candle. We always light candles for anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas.
Get out the photo albums – or make a new one
A picture is worth a thousand words. One of my favourite ways of remembering people is spending the afternoon at my Gran’s house and going through her stack of photos! She has so many from before I was born to very recent. She used to keep them in the little files they came in (you know, back in the day when you had to get them developed. Crazy, right?) but between us grandkids sifling through them and paper not lasting forever, this Christmas she has asked everyone for an empty photo album to put all the photos in; which will be an event in itself. There are tons of photos of my dad, my uncle, my grandpa and all our family and friends who are both still with us and have passed away. If most of your photos are online, perhaps get your best ones printed out and put them in albums or frames.
Make or serve your loved one’s favourite festive treats
My dad loved profiteroles or croquembouche for Christmas dessert, so we often make sure that’s one of the dessert options we have on Christmas day! There’s also become an unintentional Christmas tradition; we usually buy someone in the family marzipan or raspberry ruffles; both a christmas treat you’d often find in my dad and grandpa’s stockings!
Give a sentimental gift to another loved one
My mother has bought a present for my nephew, my dad’s grandson, a present for his first Christmas which relates to something that relates back to my dad. My gran also likes to buy my cousin a Terry Pratchett book as that’s an author both her and my uncle who is her dad and my gran’s youngest son really loved. My mother has also bought me a little harmonica charm for my bracelet as my dad used to play harmonica and was once in a local blues band.
I hope these little ways of remembering your loved ones of Christmas come into use and help comfort you this upcoming Christmas season. Remember, it can be hard at this time of year and can definitely impact how you feel, but it’s time to live your life and create more memories. Your loved one will be with you through it all, no matter what you believe in. It’s important to remember that if they could speak to you, it would be very likely they would be telling you to go and try to enjoy yourself, because you are allowed to feel love, joy and happiness even after they leave.
How do you remember your loved ones at Christmas?
Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.