Honor The Dead

Death sometimes feels like a taboo subject. We don’t like to talk about it. We certainly don’t like to face it. But it has affected most of us, and eventually, it will affect all of us.

And grief is complicated. There are a multitude of feelings, some of which are in conflict. Many of us can question our grief. How are we doing it? Are we doing it right?

One thing that can be helpful in our grieving is to honor the dead. What does it mean to honor someone? I think a good definition includes the following:

  • To treat with admiration and respect
  • To give special recognition
  • To remember in a specific way

Different cultures around the world have a variety of ways they honor the dead as a group with rituals and ceremonies.

But your dead and your grief are personal to you. I’m going to offer a list of possible ways for you to honor that person that you’ve lost. It can apply to pets too, who are often considered family members. Give these a look and see what connects for you.

  1. Visit their grave. Go to the cemetery and pay your respects. Perhaps bring someone with you.
  2. Keep their ashes. Put them in a nice container, perhaps one they would enjoy.
  3. Light a candle periodically. A simple votive candle is all you need.
  4. Frame a favorite photo and keep it in a special place. Where only you will see it.
  5. Laminate the obituary and keep it with you. Or somewhere you’ll see it and can read it from time to time.
  6. Wear an article of their clothing or jewelry. It will make you feel closer to them. Or, if it’s not your style, gift it to someone who will wear it.
  7. Listen to their favorite song. Turn up the volume. Music is very personal and memories connected to a song are powerful. If you can sing along with it all the better.
  8. Repeat their sayings. Especially if they’re funny and can be used with humor.
  9. Laugh at what they laughed at. Even if it’s not funny to you, imagine how they would laugh and that will make you laugh along.
  10. Give to their favorite charity. Support a cause close to their heart. Continue their generosity on their behalf. Maybe do it in their name.
  11. Volunteer to help others with their grief. Helping someone else is good medicine.
  12. Know they are with you when you need them. Recognize their presence. Try to feel it.
  13. Respect what was important to them. Carry on that tradition.
  14. Talk to them. Share a triumph or ask for advice. Just tell them they’re on your mind. And say it out loud for more effect.
  15. Stay in touch with their friends. Their friends will greatly appreciate it and you’ll feel a wave of goodness.
  16. Create a photo album. Or a scrapbook. Or both. One that brings you joy.
  17. Keep a memento. Get creative with something that evokes a strong, intimate memory.
  18. Appreciate their caregivers. They helped the one you lost.
  19. Create a memorial. A small, dedicated space with objects you cherish.
  20. Plant a tree. Or a flower. Or a garden. A living, enduring memorial.
  21. Draw their family tree. You may be surprised at the influence the person had.
  22. Share their stories with friends and family. Keep their legacy alive.
  23. Have friends and family tell you a story about them. Ask them to write it down. You will hear things you never knew. Perhaps share others’ stories with everyone.
  24. Jot down what makes you grateful to have had that person in your life. Keep it handy.
  25. Start a new tradition. Perhaps include other family members. Get creative.

Think about these things and how each of them might apply to your loved one. See if any connect with you. Do as many as you like. Check back to the list periodically and see how you feel. Sometimes how we feel about honoring someone can change over time. I believe your loved ones are never truly gone if you find ways to honor them.

To Grief and Loss Counseling