This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, in honor of her late father, Manville W. Elmer.
I recently posted this question on my personal Facebook page:
How do you honor/remember loved ones, who have passed away, when their birthdays come around?
You see, I was thinking ahead to January 23 – today – because it’s the birthday of my mother-in-law’s father. She has written a few posts about her father’s amazing life and the legacy he left to the family.
I feel fortunate to have met my mother-in-law’s father (in 1996) and spent some time with him during visits to my mother-in-law’s hometown.
I enjoyed watching my hubby make homemade ice cream, with an old fashioned hand crank machine, with his grandfather. I was in complete shocked and laughed hysterical when one batch of ice cream didn’t make the cut – so hubby and his grandfather went to the small town grocery store, returned the ingredients from the “bad batch” - picked up new ingredients – without paying for the new stuff – and waltzed right of the store to make more ice cream.
I have heard pieces of conversations my mother-in-law has had with her siblings as January 23 comes around on the calendar each year.
And here it is – January 23, again, and I’m thinking about my place in this family – the maternal side of hubby’s family. I’m wanting to keep my children connected to their great-grandfather. I’m trying to figure out how to positively nurture family history – and create a space for honoring those who have touched us and are no longer with us. I’m hoping to keep the memories alive and the pain of the loss in a quiet space that keeps us whole and healing.
Here are 23 ways to honor loved ones who have passed away:
- Write a poem in honor of the loved one.
- Play their favorite music/songs.
- Record family members sharing favorite stories or memories of the person.
- Decorate the loved one’s headstone.
- Meet at the gravesite at a designated time, tell family stories, release balloons, and then go celebrate the person’s life.
- Moment of silence.
- Light a candle and tell the loved one the things they have missed over the year.
- Go out to dinner and toast the legacy that has been left.
- Cook the loved one’s favorite foods.
- Have a good cry.
- Do a community service project as a family.
- Have a birthday cake and celebrate the years the person was alive and with us.
- Participate in an activity we used to do together.
- Write messages, attach to a balloon filled with helium, and then set the message/balloons free.
- Wear a piece of jewelry that belonged to the loved one.
- Call other loved ones to talk about the deceased person. Talk about the deceased person’s influence on your life.
- Make a family quilt – from clothing of the loved one.
- Create a scrapbook.
- Make a donation in honor of the deceased loved one.
- Take a day off from work/school to rest and think about the loved one.
- Have a movie marathon – showing your deceased loved one’s favorite movies.
- Plant a tree or a garden.
- Write a letter to your loved one – and if appropriate, have the letter published.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this list.