There’s no easy way around the grief when a beloved friend, family member or life partner passes away. Although everyone moves through the various stages of healing in their own time and their own way, taking a proactive and creative approach to the mourning process can often lessen the intense feelings of loss and helplessness.
Here are six unique ways to honor and commemorate your loved one and keep the wonderful memories you shared alive.
1) Plant a memorial garden
Turn a designated area of land — whether it’s a tiny corner of your own backyard or a large plot in a neighborhood park — into a lush garden that blooms all year. Plant perennial bulbs for spring color alongside shrubs and trees that provide warm hues in fall. Add a bench for a peaceful place to sit while you find inspiration and consolation reflecting on nature’s inevitable cycles of death, rebirth, renewal and growth.
2) Craft a memory jug
With a long history that’s often tracked to Africa and Appalachia, memory jug art is enjoying a revival thanks to the “found objects” school of contemporary folk art. All you need is a bottle or ceramic jug covered in putty, cement or another kind of adhesive and an assortment of everyday items that belonged to the deceased. Keys, jewelry, coins, hardware and board game pieces are all eligible for inclusion. Cover your memory vessel with small reminders of the special skills, interests and idiosyncrasies of your loved one.
3) Upcycle a piece of clothing into a pillow
If grandma had a favorite dress or nightgown, or if your partner practically lived in his NFL team’s T-shirt, you can turn it into a throw pillow in no time. All you need is beginner-level sewing skills and a large piece of fabric with a bit of stretch to it. It's easy to quickly create a memorial pillow that you can hug tightly to your chest whenever you need a comforting moment with your beloved.
4) Commission a piece of cremation art
Send just one teaspoon of your loved one’s ashes to an artist who will integrate them into a handcrafted glass sculpture, an oil painting or a piece of jewelry that you’ll treasure for life. Cremation art offers a multitude of ways to incorporate a tiny bit of ashes into a unique remembrance that is truly a “one-of-a-kind” piece of original art destined to become a family heirloom.
5) Preserve their handwriting on fabric
Take those special handwritten letters from your father or your deceased child’s drawings and have them printed on fabric. Turn those precious communications into a piece of clothing, a wall tapestry or a tablecloth.
6) Name a star for your deceased loved one
Enlist the help of the International Star Registry to immortalize your loved one’s name with a star dedication. Ever since its founding in 1979, the International Star Registry in Glenview, IL, has been compiling the only permanently published and copyrighted listing of named stars in the world. Your beloved’s celestial namesake is indexed alphabetically in the star catalog with the telescopic coordinates, and every time you look at the night sky you'll feel close and connected.