We never forget the people who we love and who have died. Years may pass but we still hold them inside our hearts. The all-consuming intensity of emotional loss we first experience doesn’t last but the quiet grief of missing them does. Life has changed forever when the people we love die and although we move through our lives without them, we continue to love them forever. Christmas is a lovely time to celebrate the loving relationships we have now, but it also highlights the absence of those close to us who have died. Different cultures have different ways of remembering loved departed ones and all these are good.
Here are some ways that you may like to remember loved family members or dear friends who are no longer here.
- Visit their grave site. Take a bottle of water to clean the gravestone and some flowers to place on it. You could put a rock or shell on the grave if you can’t bear the thought of the flowers not lasting. Some people put little toys on the grave site if it belongs to a child. If the person was cremated and hasn’t a grave but instead had ashes scattered in a certain spot, perhaps you could visit this spot.
- Write a letter or a Christmas card. Tell your loved one how much they mean to you and thank them for all they did. This could be placed on their grave hidden in the flowers you leave. Or the letter could be burned.
- Make a paper boat, write the person’s name and add some kisses and put it into a river or creek so that it may drift to wherever the river takes it.
- Write the person’s name on the beach at low tide and let the tide come up and take the name into the wideness of the ocean.
- Similarly, place a flower that the person loved into the wavelets of the outgoing tide.
- Nature is healing. Visit a quiet tree lined spot (our native bush is great) and spend of little time remembering.
- On Christmas Day during lunch or dinner, you could set a place for the departed person at the table where they usually sat, especially if this person has died recently.
- At the main Christmas meal, make a toast to departed family and friends, name them if you wish and thank them for all the goodness they brought into your family life.
Sharing grief can help soothe the pain of loss, so don’t be afraid to talk about this deceased person. However, remember that Christmas is also a time of joy and fun, so try not to dwell too long on people’s absence, but focus on who is here now. Life is precious. Let’s enjoy and be grateful for what we have now.