Grand Rapids:

Five Ways to Honor Loved Ones During the Holiday Season

For anyone navigating grief during the holidays, the constant Black Friday commercials, holiday music in stores and on the radio, and decorations galore can be challenging. If your loss is recent, it’s entirely understandable to instinctively withdraw from social gatherings and family events as a natural coping response. This response is a normal and valid way to approach the complexities of grief and mourning. Grief, however, is a nuanced journey and, like many things in life, can involve two emotions feeling true simultaneously. Former holiday traditions may be a source of pain after the loss of a loved one, and they can also be an immense source of comfort. If you are ready to reimagine the holidays, consider exploring one of these ways to honor your loved one’s memory this season.

Five Ways to Honor Loved Ones During the Holidays

  1. Break out the photo albums.

    This could look like scrolling through photos on your phone and tablet or finding physical albums. Creating intentional time to reminisce with family over photos helps bring positive memories to the forefront. You could also make a 12-month calendar with your favorite photos for little reminders throughout the new year. 

  2. Write a letter.

    During times of grief, writing can be very therapeutic. It allows you to process your feelings in a judgment-free zone. You can address this letter to yourself, acknowledging your feelings and progress. You can also write a letter to your loved ones, sharing pieces of your day, any favorite memories, or simply telling them how much you miss their company. 

  3. Host a recipe day.

    Invite family and friends to create and share your loved one’s favorite recipes and signature dishes.

  4. Donate.

    Did your loved one have a favorite charity or local nonprofit they volunteered with? Consider making a donation or signing up for a volunteer shift. If your loved one actively volunteered at a specific location, their team might have special stories and experiences to share.

  5. Create a memorial ornament.

    This special memento can be brought out every year to keep your loved one’s spirit alive each holiday season.  



The holidays can be difficult, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Instead of forcing yourself into unending parties and everything holly-jolly, focus your energy inward. What do you need to get through the end of the year comfortably? What routines and activities are best for your physical, mental, and emotional health this day, week, or month? Be gentle with yourself and those around you. From the entire Gerst team, we wish you a holiday filled with self-compassion, healing, grace, and peace.