Q&A: How do I honor my loved one?

At some point along the journey through grief, survivors often begin to find ways to honor the lives of the ones they lost. This is one of the ways to form a new connection with them, to share the love that was known and that still continues. This is also one of the ways to reconnect with life.

Honoring or memorializing what someone meant to you can be as simple as lighting a candle during a time of remembrance, perhaps with family and friends, perhaps alone. Taking time like this is a beautiful way to remember the good times. And it can be done anytime.

You may choose a more formal or permanent memorial. A beautiful stone marker for a grave site, a scholarship in a loved one’s name, or a foundation that carries forward work that was important to the lost one. There are many options and, if you think about these things, there is one that is just right for you.

All of these ideas and more are appropriate and can bring healing into the lives of those left behind. But there is one thing that everyone can do. Finding a way to live your best life possible reflects the impact your loved one’s life (and death) had on you. Helping others in some way or taking care of yourself and your family, getting up each day and sharing hope are things that would make your loved one proud.

Whatever you decide, there will be a time when choosing a life of meaning and purpose has healing benefits. Do not be discouraged if you have not experienced this feeling or these benefits yet. This journey is long, and sometimes healing seems impossible. That just means you are not yet where you are going to go. You have not yet processed the tragedy that came into your life. Keep going.

As I have heard survivors say, “The future is unwritten.”

Jan McDaniel creates projects for survivors of traumatic loss through Way For Hope. A former journalist and educator, Jan never expected her personal grief to lead to writing about suicide for people all over the world, but that is exactly what happened. Her greatest tragedy became a hope-filled mission to help others through the devastation that follows this kind of traumatic loss.

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