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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.

  1. Write a letter or poem to your person

  2. Light a special candle to remember them- if it's their birthday, you could blow the candle out and make a wish

  3. Get together with others in your loved one's life to acknowledge the day- have a dinner, say a toast

  4. Visit your person's grave or where you scattered their ashes- leave flowers or another special token for them

  5. Release lanterns or butterflies

  6. Create a scrapbook in their honor

  7. Do something you and your loved one liked to do together

  8. Visit a meaningful place to your loved one

  9. Eat a special meal/ dessert

  10. Sing happy birthday

  11. Continue your day like usual- go to work, school, etc.

  12. Look through photos of your person

  13. Share stories of your person

  14. Create a memorial space in your home- fill it with photos or trinkets that hold special significance to your person

  15. Have a good cry- make sure to drink plenty of water afterward

  16. Do something that's going to make you laugh- a funny movie, a favorite funny video

  17. Listen to their favorite music or bands

  18. Plant something in their honor- a tree, flower, bush, or garden

  19. Make a donation to a meaningful charity

  20. Spend the day volunteering

  21. Say a prayer, or do another faith-based ritual

  22. 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

  23. Move your body- go for a walk, stretch, do yoga, exercise

  24. Spend time in nature

  25. Start a new tradition

  26. See a movie or a play

  27. Create something artistic to honor your loved one- a painting, pottery, drawing, a song, etc.

  28. Read your loved one's favorite book

  29. Watch your loved one's favorite movie

  30. 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.

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