Many people are opposed to the long-time theory that grief occurs in stages. Instead, mourners are embracing the Continuing Bonds theory.
This theory emphasizes beginning a new relationship with the deceased rather than “letting go” of a loved one. Even though the deceased isn’t physically present anymore, your love for them doesn’t disappear. Through creating new traditions, loved ones can honor the deceased’s memory and find ways to keep them in their life.
Below are some ways that you can create a continued bond after a loved one is gone.
1. Write to Your Loved One in a Journal.
One way to create a continued bond is to keep a journal. You can write about anything, such as memories with your loved one, what you did that day, memorial poems or song lyrics, or questions you want to ask them. Or, many people also find comfort in sharing thoughts and questions out loud to their loved one.
2. Finish a Project They Didn’t Have the Chance to Complete.
Did your loved one start a project that they never finished? Why not take the opportunity to finish it for them? Doing this can help you feel closer to them. Or, you can start a project that they always wanted to do.
3. Travel to Their Favorite Places or Somewhere They Always Wanted to Go.
Another way to feel close to them is to travel to their favorite places. It doesn’t have to be far away destinations. Even just going to their favorite restaurant or local coffee shop can create a continued bond. Another idea is to travel somewhere that they always wanted to go.
4. Organize Gatherings on Special Days, Such as Their Birthday.
The holidays and special days can be difficult without a loved one’s physical presence. Help make these days a little easier by organizing a gathering to honor your loved one’s memory, such as a dinner. Everyone can bring a dish to pass and share memories of your loved one.
5. Display Their Mementos and Photos.
Create an area in your home to display their mementos and photos of them. You also can create a memorial scrapbook or photo album.
6. Visit Their Gravesite or Memorial Spot.
A simple way to create a continued bond is to visit their gravesite or memorial location. You can leave flowers, talk to them, or simply sit and think about your loved one.
7. Honor Their Memory During the Holidays.
Honor their memory during the holiday season by creating special traditions, such as hanging a memorial ornament or baking your loved one’s favorite holiday treat.
8. Tell Stories About Them to Your Loved Ones.
Keep your loved one’s memory alive by sharing stories about them with your loved ones. Everyone has different experiences with a loved one that others would love to hear. Even if they didn’t know the deceased, you can still tell them about who they were and how they positively influenced many lives, including your own.
9. Make Their Favorite Food or Signature Dishes.
Make their favorite food or cook up their famous recipes. You can serve them at a gathering to honor your loved one, such as on their death anniversary.
10. Do an Activity That You Always Did Together.
Continue to do an activity that you always did together. Whether it was going to a holiday movie every year or baking cookies for your community’s annual fundraiser, don’t stop doing the traditions that were meaningful to you and your loved one.
11. Light a Candle in Their Memory.
Lighting a candle in honor of a loved one can be a powerful ritual. Whether it’s the holiday season or just a day when you’re missing them a little extra, light a candle and bask in the warm glow while thinking about your loved one.
12. Donate or Start a Scholarship in Their Honor.
Make a difference by donating to a charity or organization in their honor. Or, you can create a scholarship in their honor. For example, if your loved one was a nurse, start a scholarship in their memory to help support a nursing student.
What other ways can you create a continued bond after a loved one is gone? Share your ideas with us in the comments!