12 Ways to Remember a Loved One on Thanksgiving
The table is set and the smell of turkey fills the air, however, a once joyous time with family and friends, can be a trigger of grief and sadness as you miss a loved one who is no longer there. If this is something you’re experiencing, just know that you’re not alone – millions of people are having similar thoughts and feelings on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to be thankful for what you have, however, this can be a challenge when grieving a loved one who is no longer there. Just know, it’s okay to grieve – take some time for yourself.
In addition, below are some ideas that you may find helpful to remember a loved one on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.
1. Share stories of your loved one
It’s okay to acknowledge a loved one who passed during the Thanksgiving holiday – share stories of prior Thanksgivings or other times with them. With this open dialogue, you can find a connection to your loved one while beginning the process of adjusting to the holidays without them physically by your side.
2. Pull out the photo album
Go through old photos will allow you to reflect and remember your loved one. There may be a range of emotions while doing this, however, this can be a great way to reflect on a loved one and the beautiful moments you shared…
3. Keep Thanksgiving traditions
While all traditions may not be possible for you to continue without your loved one present, try finding one or more that you can keep in place and honor them by. And, if a certain tradition is too difficult for you to do this Thanksgiving, that’s okay – postpone it until next year or ask a family member or friend to carry on the tradition this time.
4. Start new Thanksgiving traditions
It’s common that as families grow and shrink over time, some prior traditions end and new ones begin. Consider starting a new Thanksgiving tradition this year in honor of your loved one – invite others over for dinner who cannot be with family, donate leftovers to the homeless, play a game as a family, etc.
5. Do a toast or Thanksgiving prayer
Before digging into Thanksgiving dinner, take a moment to do a toast in honor of your loved one or lead the others in a prayer. This can be a great way to honor them and give everyone a moment to pause and reflect.
6. Cook their favorite dish
Cooking a favorite dish of your loved one who passed can be a great way to honor them. Encourage the younger generation to try some or enjoy it just like your loved one did. Savor every smell and bite for them.
7. Leave an empty chair and place setting
While this can make emotions more intense, it can be great way to allow the memory of your loved one to live on at the Thanksgiving meal this year.
8. Do a Thanksgiving walk or run
Many communities have ‘turkey trots’ during the Thanksgiving holiday – a great way to come together, honor a loved one and participate alongside family and friends (and a great way to help work off that Thanksgiving dinner!).
9. Donate food or money to a charity
Helping those who are less fortunate is a great way to connect to your loved one. Adopt a family and bring them Thanksgiving dinner or donate money to a good cause in your loved one’s name.
10. Watch their favorite game, show, or movie
If your loved one enjoyed a particular movie or show, or even just kicking back and enjoying Thanksgiving football, watching these can help you feel closer to them when they are no longer there.
11. Create a memorial
If your loved one was cremated and you’re holding on to some or all of their ashes, a great way to honor them can be to scatter or bury their ashes with family and friends present during the holidays. You can also consider planting a tree in their honor with or without their ashes. A memorial can be done at a place special to them and can make this holiday season an extra meaningful time. Alternatively, you can order a small keepsake where you can place a small portion of your loved one's ashes.
12. Visit a special place
Getting outside and visiting your loved one’s grave, memorial site, or a special place he or she loved can be a great way to honor them and reflect on their memory.
As the holiday season has begun, be thankful for the time, love, and memories you shared with your loved one. Try to do things that help you remember them and honor their memory. Take the love and strength surrounding you this Thanksgiving into the future days, months and years ahead as you adjust to a new normal. Life will get easier.