Losing a loved one is difficult. Whether it was expected after a long battle with illness or the result of an unexpected accident, suddenly not having that person in your life is a jarring experience. As The Huffington Post notes, one helpful way people deal with grief is taking steps to honor the memory of their lost loved one.
Traditionally, we hold memorial services at a house of worship or funeral home where friends and family can pay their final respects. However, for some people, that is not enough. To truly honor their loved one’s memory, they put forth the work and effort to find a unique way to bear witness in order to remember and say goodbye. Wilson Funeral Home explains.
Why is Bearing Witness Important?
Psychology Today points out that the term “bearing witness” refers to communicating a story with the goal of processing an experience and lightening the emotional load by sharing it. Psychologists consider bearing witness an essential step in the healing process after a traumatic event such as death. Therefore, it is as important for the living as it is for the deceased.
People bear witness in order to gain empathy and support during difficult times. When a loved one dies, bearing witness to their life helps the living they left behind express their love, memories, and knowledge of them. It is a way to honor their memory and help it live on through actions. We can bear witness through mediums including writing, art, and storytelling. However, these are not the only options available.
Ideas for Honoring the Memory of a Lost Loved One
●A memorial tree is a great way to honor the deceased’s memory while giving back to the planet. Pick a tree that truly represents your loved one. For instance, if they grew up in Tennessee, a black oak pays homage to their roots. Make sure to plant the tree in a protected area where it will not be disturbed. You can also buy a memorial plaque that lets visitors know that this is your loved one’s tree.
●If your loved one had a cause near and dear to their heart, or if they were dealing with a terminal disease, creating a nonprofit in their name can be a wonderful way to keep their legacy alive and helps raise money to put toward awareness or research. If you want to create a nonprofit in Canada, you are required to incorporate, so learn what steps to take to be legally sound.
●Your local parks department likely sells memorial walkway bricks, benches, and other landmarks you can buy in honor of your loved one. This is a great idea if the deceased was an avid outdoors lover or if they were particularly attached to the city. The money cities receive for these often goes back to park upkeep and protection.
●If your loved one was a devoted academic or loved kids, setting up a memorial scholarship fund in their name is another way to honor their memory while giving back to the community. You can make the specifications for earning and receiving the scholarship to reflect the deceased’s life. For instance, it can be especially for people who studied literature like they did or it can go to kids that will attend their alma mater. If you are holding a memorial service, request that guests donate to the scholarship fund in lieu of flowers.
When you lose someone close to you, it is important to take proper steps to grieve. For many people, bearing witness to the person’s life helps honor their memory and lightens the emotional load. Traditionally, we hold memorial services in funeral homes as a way to seek closure. However, creative outlets help others celebrate the life of a loved one in a more unique way. Wilson Funeral Home is here to continue to provide the highest standards for our community and to the families that we serve.
Crisis, Grief and Healing
Webhealing.com, the first interactive grief website on the internet, offers discussion boards, articles, book suggestions, and advice for men and women working through every aspect of grief. The site’s founder, Tom Golden LCSW, has provided book excerpts and contact information to help those healing from loss.
Willowgreen offers support and information for those dealing with life transition & aging, illness & caregiving, loss & grief, and hope & spirituality. The site offers advice, products, and inspirational materials.
Grief and Loss
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website contains a Grief & Loss section with grief-related articles and information.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s website provides a host of information and resources for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury and their caregivers.