Green Door Therapy
30 Ways to Honor Your Grief
Grief is an experience unlike any other. When a loss occurs, it can feel like there isn't a single aspect in your life that this loss hasn't affected. One part of grief that can be particularly difficult are dates like the death anniversary, birthdays, mothers/fathers' days, due dates, wedding/ dating anniversaries, or holidays. Not only are these days themselves often filled with grief, but the days and weeks leading up to them can bring feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, uncertainty, and dread. People choose various ways to spend and honor their loved ones on these challenging days, but many find it hard to know what to do.
It can often be helpful to make a game plan for these days in advance. It can also help to make plans that can be easily changed depending on how you feel once the day has actually arrived. Asking your family and friends for support can be vital.
Here is a list of some ideas of ways to honor our loved ones on significant days of the year. Remember that grief is as individual as each person is, so not all of these will feel right to you. There is no wrong way to spend these days; listen to your gut and body on what you need on these days. Most of all, give yourself permission to not be your "normal" self on these days. Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings may come up those days, even if it ends up feeling like a regular day.
Write a letter or poem to your person
Light a special candle to remember them- if it's their birthday, you could blow the candle out and make a wish
Get together with others in your loved one's life to acknowledge the day- have a dinner, say a toast
Visit your person's grave or where you scattered their ashes- leave flowers or another special token for them
Release lanterns or butterflies
Create a scrapbook in their honor
Do something you and your loved one liked to do together
Visit a meaningful place to your loved one
Eat a special meal/ dessert
Sing happy birthday
Continue your day like usual- go to work, school, etc.
Look through photos of your person
Share stories of your person
Create a memorial space in your home- fill it with photos or trinkets that hold special significance to your person
Have a good cry- make sure to drink plenty of water afterward
Do something that's going to make you laugh- a funny movie, a favorite funny video
Listen to their favorite music or bands
Plant something in their honor- a tree, flower, bush, or garden
Make a donation to a meaningful charity
Spend the day volunteering
Say a prayer, or do another faith-based ritual
Talk with other people who have had similar losses- remember that everyone's grief is different though, try not to compare yours to someone else
Move your body- go for a walk, stretch, do yoga, exercise
Spend time in nature
Start a new tradition
See a movie or a play
Create something artistic to honor your loved one- a painting, pottery, drawing, a song, etc.
Read your loved one's favorite book
Watch your loved one's favorite movie
Create an online memorial
Remember to take care of yourself on these days, making sure to get plenty of self-care in and lean on your support people. Be gentle and patient with yourself on these days and throughout your grief journey. Remember that it is, in fact, a journey that comes with many ups and downs.
Blog post written by Anna Finnegan, LSW of Green Door Therapy.