How to Make the Grieving Process More Manageable by Honoring Your Loved One
By Camille Johnson ~
Losing a loved one causes so much pain and grief that people wonder if they will ever feel happy or normal again. The grieving process takes time, and everyone grieves in her own way. To make the process more manageable, some people focus on honoring their deceased loved one and finding ways to grow from the experience. Here are tips and advice to help you honor your loved one.
- Start New Traditions or Rituals
Sometimes, the hardest part of losing a loved one is losing the activities that you did together. Starting new traditions or rituals is a wonderful way to honor your loved one and keep his or her memory alive. For example, you and your siblings could go fishing together each year on your father’s birthday to honor him. Or, you could make Christmas cookies using your grandmother’s recipe on her birthday.
You also can do daily or weekly rituals as a way to honor your loved one and quietly focus on moving through your grief in a constructive way. GoodTherapy.org offers several suggestions for creating new rituals, including lighting a candle at certain meaningful times each day, listening to your loved one’s favorite song, or carrying something special that reminds you of him or her so you can hold it whenever you need to.
You can take your traditions or rituals one step further by turning them into a fundraiser or event that honors your loved one and helps the community at the same time. For example, you could host a fishing derby at your father’s favorite spot and donate the proceeds to a local environmental center, an environmental cause, or a charity that had special meaning to him. If your grandmother loved candles, and that’s why you light one each day in her memory, partner with a local candlemaker to sell candles to benefit a local organization that your grandmother supported.
- Start a Scholarship or Nonprofit in Honor of Your Loved One
GoFundMe points out that you also could use the money from these events to start a scholarship to honor your loved one. You can determine if your scholarship will be a one-time gift or an annual fund, which will help you know how much money you need to raise. Another option is to create an endowment to make the scholarship permanent. You and your family also will determine the qualifications for the scholarship and design the application and selection process.
It’s helpful to work with a local community foundation to create your scholarship; however, be aware that you may lose some of the control over the criteria for the award. For more information on starting a scholarship, check out this how-to from Scholarship America.
You could also start a nonprofit organization in your loved one’s honor, which can help keep their memory alive. Although setting up and running a nonprofit takes a lot of work and dedication, there are companies such as ZenBusiness that can help you get things running.
- Live in a Way that Honors Your Loved One
It’s all too easy to become depressed and anxious after losing a loved one. The grief can overwhelm you and make it difficult for you to get out of bed, let alone enjoy spending time with friends and family members. If you find yourself struggling to go on because of your grief, reach out to a grief counselor or a friend or family member.
Don’t expect to get over the grief quickly but also don’t assume that it’s normal to have difficulty getting out of bed or going to work. Find creative and healthy ways to express your feelings, and make your physical and mental health a priority. Take walks with a friend or go for a hike with a family member.
Making your life enjoyable is the best way to honor your loved one. One way to relieve your grief, anxiety, and depression as you grieve is to spend time with animals. Research cited in Country Living shows that dogs help soothe anxiety, depression, and stress. Petting a dog releases oxytocin, the chemical that helps you feel good, and reduces your level of the stress hormone cortisol. Getting a dog also gives you a sense of purpose because you have to care for him each day, which gets you up and moving.
Remember, grieving is a process that takes time. To soothe your pain, start new traditions or rituals and honor your loved one by starting a scholarship. Always live in a way that honors your loved one by taking care of your physical and mental health.