Research has shown that the death rate in the United States increases by as much as 10% during the holiday season. This time of joy and celebration can also be a difficult time for many people who are coping with the loss of a loved one.
And as a funeral director, you have the unique power to help people reframe their grief; to soften the sting of a holiday-season loss by focusing on a beautiful celebration of life.
Involving the community in holiday season memorial activities can be an important part of healing, too. Community activities are a great way to support the bereaved, and to give people a space to honor their loved one’s during this special time, no matter how long it’s been.
As a funeral professional, you have insight and experience that few do. You also know a lot about the area you serve and the people who live there. You can use this to help families create more personalized funerals and celebrations — and to organize life-affirming holiday memorial events for the community.
Here are a few ideas for fun and meaningful holiday season tributes to share with your families and community:
1. Host a keepsake ornament workshop
Immortalize those precious memories and preserve them for future generations of family. Have everyone write down something they remember about the person being memorialized. Roll up each paper and tie it with a pretty ribbon. Place these inside clear ornaments along with some festive confetti or glitter, like this one we found on Pinterest. It’s a very inexpensive yet deeply meaningful workshop that can give everyone the opportunity to participate in a memorial activity for someone they’re missing this holiday season.
(You can also play a warm, holiday-themed video for a tasteful backdrop to your community memorial project.)
2. Make Christmas more joyful for the less fortunate
A wonderful way to spread cheer and goodwill in the spirit of a deceased loved one is to make charitable donations. Of course, donating to charity in the name of a deceased loved one is nothing new. It becomes unique when you help guide families in choosing a charitable donation that really speaks to them.
Here are a few ideas for you to start with:
- Organize a tree planting party for someone who was a conservationist.
- Donate to or volunteer at a church or other place of spiritual significance to the deceased.
- Donations to a local homeless shelter are always a fantastic way to embrace the spirit of the holidays in honor of a loved one. If the person was an abuse survivor or advocate, these donations could be made to a women’s shelter or advocacy group.
- “Pay it forward” at the loved one’s favorite local coffee shop or restaurant and see where this chain of kindness goes, like the video below:
A memorial activity like this really helps shift the focus from grieving to giving. If you want to go bigger, you can always encourage people in your area to spread goodwill during the holidays. Put together a community toy drive or other way for everyone to come out and get involved in bringing holiday cheer to others.
3. Do some memorial re-gifting
Re-gifting can be a great way to process grief and get into the rhythm of giving during the holidays. It’s a simple concept, really: have families choose an item that belonged to the deceased and they feel inspired to offer to a family or friend. This act of giving can be a beautiful way to transform grief into joy. Some tried-and-true ideas are a teddy bear, quilt or a keepsake pillow.
4. Building a lasting memorial
One hands-on way to celebrate someone’s life and honor their legacy over the long-term is to build something in their honor. There are a lot of ways families can do this.
On a personal level: your families can build something large like a porch swing or small like a birdhouse dedicated to the loved one in the winter. In the springtime, they can plant flowers or trees to give this memorial new life with a new season.
On a community level: keep the memories alive in the community by creating benches, tables or places of contemplation dedicated to them. Get in touch with the appropriate local organizations to find out what kinds of sponsorship or charitable options are available in your area, so you can offer families public ways to memorialize someone.
If this is too big of a project for you, you can keep it simple (and free) by offering families a tree or fence to hang jewelry, notes, mementos or small ornaments in honor of their loved ones (like the picture below):
5. Finish the Bucket List
What better way to remember someone than to carry on the legacy of their passions? In talking with families, you can get a feel for what the loved one was like – what their goals, dreams, and passions were. This information can help you suggest creative ideas for “bucket list” memorial activities, like:
- For those who were car people, pay for some track time or rent an exotic car for the day.
- Take a trip somewhere the person always wanted to go. If it’s somewhere they
went the in the past, consider re-enacting their experience by going to the same restaurants, staying at the same hotel, etc.
- Go to a concert of the loved one’s favorite musician or band in honor of them.
There are many ideas that can sprout when you get talking about the loved one’s passions and interests!
6. Say it with….rocks?
The rock painting community is huge. This community-oriented hobby has unofficial chapters all over the world. The idea is to paint rocks and hide them around town so other people can find them. The rocks are sometimes used to spread awareness about a cause or to send a message. Most often, though, the rock-painters are just hoping to bring a little bit of fun and happiness to someone else’s day.
You could arrange a rock painting party – for individual families or for your whole community. Provide supplies and let everyone create rocks to honor their lost loved ones. It’s very likely that there is already an established rock painting group in your city. Look them up to find out what the general rules of etiquette are for painting and hiding rocks.
7. Keep the traditions alive
People who have lost a loved one around the holidays often lament the end of long-standing traditions shared with that person. Rather than despair over a lost legacy, families can focus on creating a memorial celebration that is all about keeping memories alive.
One family tradition that sometimes dies out with an older generation is the baking of goodies from scratch. Gathering together to make grandma’s Christmas cookies can be one of the best and most memorable ways to pass down tradition. You could even use your Life Tributes personalization software to make a printed keepsake of the recipe for the family, as an extra detail to show how much you care.
Bring In Some Help
Being able to offer an endless array of customized tributes and community events sounds wonderful. In real life, you only have so many resources. Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization Software is the ultimate toolbox to help you make any idea come to life (without spending a lot of time or money). Try it free for 30 days to help you create totally personalized tributes during the holiday season.
Want some more holiday themed memorial ideas? Check out these 12 easy DIYs to share with families this Christmas.
People want to remember their loved one in a special, meaningful way. What are your favorite ideas for create unique memorials around the holidays? Tell us in the comments below!