What are ways you have memorialized a loved one?
When we asked families who have used CaringBridge to share ways they honor the memories of their loved ones, among the most touching was from Kat Schilling. On the anniversary of losing her 16-year-old son, Zach, to cancer, Kat used her income tax refund to do random acts of kindness for strangers in her hometown. She said it made a hard day a little easier. Below are more wonderful responses, like Kat’s, some of which have been edited for clarity. We invite you to add your own comments, too, at the end of this article.
1. Keep something of theirs with you
Keeping an item of sentimental value is a very personal way to remember someone dear. CaringBridge families have done things like this:
“When my husband died, I had pillows made for my sons out of their Dad’s shirts, and teddy bears cut from his shirts and ties for the grandkids. I also had a pillow made for myself, using his favorite shirt. I keep it on my bed.”
“I had quilts made for my three sisters out of our Dad’s flannel shirts, each including a picture of them with Dad.”
“My sister has the rims from her ex-boyfriend’s truck, after he was killed in a head-on collision. Every time she drives her truck, he’s with her. He was a good friend of mine, too, so I have a truck I’m building for him. Every time I drive the truck, he’s with me. That’s how we remember him.”
2. Support a cause close to their heart, and yours
Many CaringBridge families said having an opportunity to help others is a meaningful way to remember their loved ones. Here are some ideas:
“Before she passed, my grand-niece came up with the idea of a ‘bunny drive’ to collect and deliver stuffed animals. The first one was in spring 2007. It continues in her sweet memory. In 2017, Sammie’s Bunny Drive collected and delivered 1,400 new stuffed animals! Her family and friends will continue this drive every year in her memory!”
Jacqueline Campbell Patton
“My grandson, Dylan, loved St. Jude. Before he earned his angel wings, Dylan requested that we raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. His hope was that no other child would have to go through what he did. We do fundraisers, golf tournaments, the St. Jude gala and the Give Thanks Walk. Don’t forget to be a Partner in Hope!”
“After losing our grandson, Tyler, our biggest project was to work toward finalizing and procuring the funds for our Kirkersville United Methodist Church in Ohio to install Carillon Bells. We live very close to our church, and many times a day I listen and sing along with the beautiful bells. And many times I shed a tear for the loss of our beloved grandson.”
“For going on eight years, I have organized a golf outing to raise funds for cancer research.”
“I started a scholarship in his name, to help people in his field.”
3. Make a tribute donation to a nonprofit
To honor the memory of a loved one, many CaringBridge families make a tribute gift to a nonprofit that offered support at a time when it was needed most. Here are some examples:
“I donate $100 to St Jude’s every year, in memory of my sister.”
Jan Wright Gokey
“I make a donation at least once a year to CaringBridge. It was such wonderful help for our grandson, Tyler, who was in treatment for almost seven years for ewing sarcoma, a rare cancer. He passed almost 10 years ago.”
4. Create a living reminder
So many families said that they planted a tree, flowers or an entire garden as a memorial to someone they miss. Here are just a few things that were shared:
“I had always done flower boxes for my mom for Mother’s Day. And I still do. After she died, I had a stone engraved that says, ‘Remembering Mom in her Garden.’ It helps me hold precious memories.”
“I planted a memorial garden for my son, started with the flowers from his funeral. I adopted a highway in his honor, and helped pass a legislative bill in his name. I want my son to have a legacy, and I am happy to know his legacy will live on for years.”
“We plant trees in honor of our loved ones.”
Diana Skirvin Woolley
5. Dedicate an event to their memory
Bring your community together and dedicate an event to your loved one’s memory. Here’s an idea:
“I direct a community chorale group called Trinity Choir. Over 57 years, my Mom had been an officer, board member and choir member. She passed in August 2017, and we dedicated our 2018 season, featuring ‘Two Crowns,’ by Randy Vader and Jay Rouse, to her memory.”
Diana Williams Martin
6. Start a new tradition
Establishing a new tradition can establish a new way to remember someone who is missed. Here is just one idea:
“On their birthday, release some balloons.”
7. Share their stories and photos
Keep memories alive by sharing stories and keeping photos on display, as these families have done:
“I was very close to my grandmother, until she passed in 2014. I have many photos of her in our home, and I share stories about her with my children. They remember her a little bit, but it’s just so nice to share those special stories.”
“I keep a picture in a place where I see it from my easy chair, whenever I look up.”
“I light a candle in front of their picture, in my home, since I could not be where they were when they passed.”
8. Live your best life
Here is a suggestion to live your life to its fullest, as a tribute to the person you are missing:
“When I remember my Mom, I reach to be the best person I can be… knowing she would want me to be happy.”
9. Do any combination of the above
There’s no rule that says you can only memorialize someone in one way. Do whatever brings you joy. Here is a suggestion:
“I have a picture of Mom and Dad in my living room, taken just after they got married in 1950. I have raised the little kitten that Dad loved so much. He is not so little now (20 pounds!) and will be 8 years old in a couple of months. I am also driving Dad’s truck, so he is with me every time I leave the house. Mom is still living in the house he built for her.”
How do you remember your loved ones?
We’d love to hear from you, so please comment below.
New to CaringBridge and wondering what we do?
CaringBridge is a nonprofit social network dedicated to helping family and friends communicate with and support loved ones during a health crisis through the use of free, personal websites. Know someone who could benefit from starting a CaringBridge site to keep loved ones informed and get the love, and support they need?