Holiday remembrance programs are a great way to help families through a holiday season without their loved one.
Each year, funeral homes, hospice centers, nursing homes, hospitals, and other community organizations and businesses put on holiday remembrance programs. Some have been putting them on for years, even decades.
So how do you keep families coming back, year after year? Here are a few ideas you can try at your holiday remembrance program this year, whether you’re hosting one for the first time or you’re a seasoned veteran.
Candles have been used throughout history to honor the dead. Luminarias are a beautiful way to use candles to recognize a life, and very easy to make if you don’t want to order premade ones.
For your remembrance program, consider creating or ordering a luminaria for each person lost in the last year. You can put their name on the luminaria along with a simple design.
For safety, consider using flameless votive candles rather than traditional ones. If you do choose real candles, be sure to weigh down the luminarias with sand so they don’t easily tip over, place them off to the side where people won’t be walking, and keep emergency supplies nearby in case of an accident.
Balloon releases are a great way to figuratively let go of the grief. Consider having a bunch of balloons on hand and rent a helium tank to save costs. You can give a balloon to every person in attendance, or just release a small group of them.
If you do decide to release balloons, be sure to keep the environment in mind. Buying biodegradable balloons and strings will help reduce litter and negative effects on nearby wildlife and ecosystems.
White doves have traditionally been seen as a symbol of love and peace. Many companies will perform dove releases for you with trained doves, but you will have to check well ahead of time to ensure it is a possibility for your event.
Sometimes doves cannot be released, for many reasons:
- Too many overhead wires at the location
- Too late in the day
- Inclement weather, such as temperatures that are too low, rain, or snow
- A location that is too far for the doves to fly back home
If you do plan a dove release, it’s a good idea to have a backup idea in case it has to be canceled last minute.
Ask the families who are attending to send pictures of their loved ones or use photos from their online obituaries to arrange on a wall together. Many families will want to show each other who they lost, and share stories about them with one another.
This is a great way to encourage your families to interact with one another while remembering those that were lost.
Set up trees with ornaments on them that have the deceased’s name. These ornaments also can double as a gift to the families who attend your program. You can get ornaments in a variety of shapes, such as angels, butterflies, doves, and snowflakes.
Consider what kind of ornament your families might want, and also consider purchasing ornament stands for families as well. While ornaments can hang on your remembrance tree at the event, not every family has a tree they can use, and some might want to have their ornament on display year-round.
Consider offering your families a unique crystal or glass ornament to remember their loved ones by. Call us at 866-372-9372 to request a free sample!
I look forward to and enjoy reading your thoughts, insights, and ideas. I am not a funeral director but I do work with helping people work through their loss. I am always open to ideas to help with holiday memorials and for the special days. I do lead a series of classes for a local funeral home dealing with losses, grief, and recovery for families in the community. Thank you for your work and sharing very helpful and informative information.
Dr. Nancy B. Moore