9 Ways to Remember a Loved One Who Has Passed

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 and heartfelt responses from other CaringBridge users. Here are their ideas on how to remember and honor a loved one:

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.”
Cathleen Lechowicz

“I had quilts made for my three sisters out of our Dad’s flannel shirts, each including a picture of them with Dad.”
Sharon Hovie

“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.”
Kevin Amundson

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!”
Sandy Jensen

“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.”
William Magley

“For going on eight years, I have organized a golf outing to raise funds for cancer research.”
Sigrid Devita

“I started a scholarship in his name, to help people in his field.”
Jewel Downs

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.”
William Magley

4. Create a living reminder

plant a living reminder to memorialize a loved one who has passed

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.”
Kimberly Cole

“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.”
Ruth Caruthers

“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

For more inspiration, these celebration of life ideas can help you honor your loved one and celebrate their life with their closest friends and family.

6. Start a new tradition

release balloons as a way to remember someone who has passed

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.”
Martin Grimes

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.”
Maria Ellis

“I keep a picture in a place where I see it from my easy chair, whenever I look up.”
Carol Johnson

“I light a candle in front of their picture, in my home, since I could not be where they were when they passed.”
Teresa Horton

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.”
Connie Melaik

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.”
Lucy Whithorn

What are ways you have memorialized a loved one?

We hope these 9 ideas offer some inspiration on how to honor a loved one’s memory. What are some ways you and your friends and family have remembered a loved one? Leave a comment below if you’d like to share.

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?

Comments (14)

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Deborah Towner Aug 04, 2020 11:13am
As beautiful as they are and as touching a ceremony, please no balloons, they just pollute and end up killing animals
Tami Keaton Jul 09, 2020 6:48am
I want to remember my hiss and in a good way. He was killed by the police and left many real estate projects unfinished.
Joan Horner Jun 24, 2020 9:22am
how do I purchase a "brick" for the garden in the cancer building?
MUHAMMAD FIRDAUS Jun 04, 2020 7:23am
Stephen Apr 27, 2020 9:37pm
I Lost my dad a year ago tomorrow. On his Birthday this year my mom and I lit 3 candles beside his picture. One candle for Dad one for Mom and one for me. We sat together by the candles and his picture and just told stories and shared beautiful memories. We laughed and cried but we ended up feeling a lot better. We felt his energy with us. It was so special and healing to us that tomorrow, one year of him passing, we are going to do the exact same thing. We’re also going to boil some peanuts, they were his favorite. Peace, Love and Blessings to all who have gone through the difficult journey of loosing someone you love!
Nancy Willard Aug 13, 2019 1:26pm
Ideas to remember my dad in upcoming small town parade. He and family farmers and construction for decades. Nephew driving 2 of his tractors From tractor club. Sold antique cars and his truck so can’t drive those. Have a banner cousin made and army dress jacket
A Khan Academy user Jul 14, 2019 9:50am
I was a very active member of Khan Academy until I got tired of it. But now, in honor of my grandma, I strive to go on every day!
Joyce Knolhoff Mar 30, 2019 12:46pm
As part of my current recovery. I have to check blood sugar every morning. I remember my Mom and 10 year old big brother Dale carefully testing and taking insulin shot EVERY morning for Type 1 diabetes. He endured so many health problems with diabetes. It is is his honor to do my part to keep my numbers in safe ranges.
Elizabeth DiViesti Apr 11, 2018 3:26am
We donor to the march of dimes and do the walk in honor of my two grandchildren that i have lose .we have done it for 8 yr that i have live in Tennessee.
Lynn Apr 06, 2018 4:10pm
I have a candle from my daughter's favorite winery that is set on the table during family gatherings. My daughter passed away from lupus. and was sick for 15 years. There was no support for parents of a sick child, and still little support today. So after she died, I created Support Group for Parents of a Child with Lupus on Facebook.
Melissa Adams Apr 06, 2018 11:18am
Once a day, in private, I speak out loud the names of those people who have meant the most to me that are no longer with me. I speak each name, remember his or her face, as well as something special about that person. There are 13 people on the list at this time.
Cassie Helton Apr 05, 2018 10:55pm
I continue to be a blood donor. I am 2 pints shy of my 65th gallon & should hit my goal somewhere close to the 6 yr anniversary of my fathers death. I also continue to exercise & raise funds for blood cancer thru the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's TeamInTraining program. One of my proudest moments is when I crossed the finish line @ the United States Marine Corps Marathon & I dedicated it to my Daddy. Ooh-Rah!!! Semper Fi!!!
Christine Ford Mar 25, 2018 8:46am
Our rural community had a fund raiser for my husband with terminal brain cancer. Half was used to remodel our house for accessibility. I've saved the other half and donate it to others in medical need in our area...typically cancer....paying it forward in his memory.
Barbara Romain Mar 15, 2018 6:04am
My husbands 1 year was May 3, 2018. We were foster parents for over 35 years. My daughter contacted as many of our friends and family as she could, asking them to video them sending a white balloon with a message to him. She made 1 video of all of them, it was beautiful especially since so many live around the world, or other states. Then that night on my facebook she posted a beautiful video in memory of him. I must of watched it 100 times over. Everyone loves it and wants to participate next year.