Finding ways to celebrate a loved one can be difficult to say the least, especially if you are still actively mourning. My Mother in Law passed away February 2017 and while we have made it through the entire year of "firsts" without her, Lisa's birthday today wasn't any easier to get through than the last. Whether you are dealing with a recent death or one from years ago, here are five simple ways to honor a loved one on the other side...
1. Create a Reminder
This is Lisa's famous chocolate oatmeal cookie recipe. Everyone else makes them with peanut butter, but this is my husband's absolute favorite. She wrote it up for me years ago and I've been attempting to recreate it ever since. Just this week, I found it in the folds of a cookbook and decided to frame. Though you will never forget your loved one, simple reminders such as this or lighting a special candle whenever you think of them is a special way to keep their spirit injected into your daily life.
2. Enjoy a Meal
Speaking of recipes, making a beloved meal or dining at their favorite restaurant is sure to bring a flood of pleasant memories. One of Lisa's specialties was spaghetti- nothing fancy, but I think the pinch of sugar in the sauce along with a splash of humor is what made her's so damn delicious. If you're not up for recreating the same exact dish, look up a fun alternative and create a new tradition.
3. Volunteer or Donate
If you're the type of person that prefers to keep busy during sad or stressful times, volunteering towards a cause your loved one would appreciate is a great way to help others while helping yourself and honoring their passions. A day at your local animal or food shleter can also help put your blessing back into perspective. If your time is short, consider donating to charity with a memorial.
4. Be kind to Yourself
You may not be ready to do anything yet. That's okay. Do not feel obligated to do anything just for the sake of it. Some years, you may feel like throwing a party with your family and friends to reminisce. Some years, you may need to take the day off from work to be alone. Some years, you may want to just carry on. Grieving is not a set or linear path. "The way we honor our deceased loved ones is by living well..." Practice self-care, give your body and soul whatever it asks for during this time and don't for one second feel guilty!
5. Respect the Process
Following up to #4, understand that other's processes and needs could look very different from your own. Rather than judging or being offended, respect their wishes and work to find a middle ground that can help everyone heal. My husband's family chose to gather on Lisa's death day and spend her birthday separately this year. That could look very differant from what we decide is best next year, etc. Hopefully we will someday be able to celebrate her life as deserved but for now we cope as best we can, each taking the time and process we need to heal.