Following is a piece submitted by Lucille Rosetti to Martin Oaks Cemetery & Crematory. We appreciate hearing from our readers.
How to Honor a Loved One
Letting go of the people we love is always a challenge, but taking the time to grieve and say goodbye can make the parting a little easier to bear. Saying goodbye doesn’t mean forgetting; rather it means honoring and celebrating the person’s life, accomplishments, and legacy.
Traditionally, when we lose a loved one, we hold a funeral. But often that’s not enough when mourning the loss. Grieving for a loved one is a very personal process. According to Psychology Today, there are four major components of grief that manifest differently depending on the person’s unique circumstances of the loss. Eventually, people will get to a point where they remember the loss of a loved one without overwhelming emotion, but with a positive outlook, acceptance, and profound understanding. Engaging in meaningful rituals and traditions like a memorial service helps people move into that stage.
A Memorial Service
A traditional memorial service is done in order to celebrate a person’s life. The goal is to remember a loved one’s significant contributions to the world and his or her family. The Huffington Post suggests that memorial services are important rituals in a society that allow people to continue with their lives after a difficult loss.
Many people are choosing to hold memorial services in their home rather than at a church or spiritual center. Going this route allows the family more control of the program and atmosphere. Some ways to make the service special and unique include:
- Placing photographs around the house.
- Writing an obituary and including in a printed program for guests.
- Using flowers to symbolize life.
- Playing your loved one’s favorite music or decorating with meaningful themes.
Other ways to honor and remember loved ones at home include planting a tree or flowers in their honor, displaying specific moments or objects that belonged to them, or dedicate a corner of the house to mementos of their life. Any of these can be incorporated into an intimate gathering.
How to Make it Yours
Of course, everyone’s grief is different, and the celebration of life can take many forms. The important thing to remember when planning a memorial service for loved ones is to honor their life and their passions. Your service can be as formal or informal as you like. Make the memorial your own by exploring a variety of rituals. For example:
- Light candles and design the space to honor the person.
- Release balloons or lanterns with personalized messages.
- Recall memories and tell stories with families and friends.
- Have a family meal with the deceased favorite dish.
- Play music that is a tribute to your loved one.
- Have special readings of eulogies, scripture, or poetry.
According to The Atlantic, studies have shown that participating in personal and private rituals proved helpful for the grieving process. This can include continuing traditions or customs the person had with the deceased. While these rituals seem sad, they actually have an opposite effect and bring people a feeling of peace and relief.
An important part of a memorial service is the eulogy. This is a piece of writing or speech that talks about the person’s life and unique qualities and his or her importance in the lives of others. Writing a eulogy for a loved one can be a good way to express grief in a personal and meaningful way. Sharing the eulogy at the service will further heal hearts in mourning. Have several people read eulogies to get a fuller picture of the deceased.
A Cicero said, “The life of the dead is placed in the memories of the living.” Loved ones impact our life in many ways, and it is through the moments we share with them that they will remain with us. In a time of loss, remember that honoring your loved ones is the best way to accept their departure and move on with them in your heart.
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