21 Ideas to Keep a Loved One’s Memory Alive


Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure.

Grief comes with a wide variety of emotions. It’s not just “feeling sad” that someone died. It’s not something that you eventually “get over,” and it looks different from person to person.

Jump ahead to these sections:

One of the unexpected feelings that come with grief is fear. Part of that fear may be caused by being afraid that others will forget how amazing your partner, spouse, parent, child, or friend was. You may also be worried that you’ll forget those wonderful nuances that made your loved one special. 

Here are some ideas if you’re asking “How to keep my loved one’s memory alive?” 

How to Keep Your Partner or Spouse’s Memory Alive

You may feel like you lost your right arm when you lost your spouse or life partner. Others may be quick to return to their everyday life after their death, which may cause you to feel angry, afraid, or frustrated.

Here are some ways to keep your partner or spouse’s memory alive.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

1. Talk about your spouse

Other people may not know the best way to act around you. They may avoid talking about your deceased spouse because they don’t want to make you cry. In fact, they may talk about everything but your spouse in an attempt to keep the conversation as emotion-free as possible.

Relieve the others around you by bringing up your spouse. Start by bringing up their name in casual conversation. Then share a funny story. You may even talk about your emotions by telling others what you miss about your loved one.

Talking about your spouse may be extremely difficult at first. You may not be able to speak without crying but showing your emotions is expected and okay.

2. Listen to your loved one’s favorite music

Isn’t it amazing how the first few bars of a song can take you back to a specific place in time? Take a walk down memory lane by listening to the music you associate with your loved one.

The walk may be difficult to bear, but opening up those memories will help you recall details of your loved one that you may have struggled to remember before.

In fact, you may want to create and share a playlist of your spouse’s favorite songs. Your family members may enjoy listening to the music that reminds them of their loved ones. Read our list of songs about memories for some ideas.

3. Wrap yourself in an item of your loved one’s clothing

If your spouse died within the last few months, you might be able to find clothing that has their scent. You may notice it on sweatshirts, robes, or blankets especially. Wrap those items around you and you may be reminded of your loved one’s embrace. 

You may want to avoid washing those precious items to keep the scent around for as long as possible. After the scents die away, you may find comfort from the smells of your loved one’s perfume, cologne, or other personal products. 

4. Cook your spouse’s favorite foods

Celebrate special days by cooking your spouse’s favorite foods. Invite people over to enjoy the meal.

Raise a toast to your spouse as you share memories. You may also want to compile the recipes and distribute them in a book to your friends and extended family members. 

5. Create a memory nook

Decorate a spot in your home to serve as a memorial nook or altar. Surround your loved one’s photos with candles or fresh flowers. Keep commemorative pieces there that remind you of your love. 

6. Make a memorial diamond

Memorial jewelry is one of the most beloved ways to hold a loved one's memory close. Unlike a memento you keep in your home, this is something you wear each day. 

Eterneva specializes in memorial diamonds created with your loved one's ashes or hair. Using a unique process that matches how diamonds are made in nature, this is a powerful way to hold a loved one close no matter where the day takes you. 

How to Keep a Parent’s Memory Alive

Losing a parent may be particularly difficult if your children are too young to have formed many memories of them. Here are some ideas to keep your parent’s memory alive for your children or grandchildren.

Like we mentioned in the previous section, the best way to keep a person’s memory alive is by sharing stories. Talk to your kids and grandkids about those who came before them. 

7. Write down your memories

Your teenagers may have little interest in learning about your parents or grandparents during this part of their lives, but they may have a renewed interest in learning about where they came from when they grow older. Write down details about your parents so they will be ready for your children when they are interested in reading them.

Write about their personalities, histories, and preferences. Try to include those nuances that made your loved one special.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

8. Display photos in your home

Your kids and grandkids will be more likely to remember your parents or grandparents if they see many photos displayed in your home.

Pictures lead to discussions. Discussions lead to an opportunity to share memories. 

9. Keep your family traditions alive

Honor your parents and grandparents by keeping happy traditions alive in your family. As you complete the traditions, tell your kids and grandkids where and why they originated. 

10. Get a tattoo

If you enjoy getting tattoos, consider getting one in memory of your loved one.

The tattoo could be of your mom or dad’s favorite flower or team. You also can’t go wrong with getting an “in memory of” tattoo with your mom’s or dad’s name.

If a tattoo feels too permanent, try placing an "in loving memory" decal on your car or window.

11. Create a family tree

Family tree research is easier now than ever before. It may be as easy as connecting with a cousin on an ancestor website. They may have already completed the difficult part of creating the extended family tree. 

Share what you found with your siblings, children, nieces, and nephews. 

12. Design a custom urn

While a ready-made urn can capture something unique and personal about your loved one, sometimes you want something a bit more personalized. Foreverence specializes in custom, unique urns that are designed specifically for individuals. 

If you want something more representative of your loved one's memory, passions, and interests, a custom urn is the best way to achieve this. This is something worth holding onto for years to come. 

How to Keep a Child or Grandchild’s Memory Alive

Losing a child or grandchild is an incredibly heart-wrenching experience. You may struggle to keep your child’s memory alive, especially if they died extremely young. Here are some ideas.

13. Create a memory book

Create a memory book or scrapbook full of photos and memorabilia of your child’s life. Keep the book on your coffee table so visitors know that you are keeping the child’s memory alive. 

14.  Do something to help others in memory of your child

You probably dread your child’s death anniversary each year. Instead of curling up in a ball and spending the day in bed, consider performing a random act of kindness on that day.

You may even make it a goal to see how many of those random acts you can complete in one day. 

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

15. Form a team to raise money for child-related charities

Name a fund-raising team after your child or grandchild and use it to raise money for a charity that is close to your heart.

Hold events each year and share memories of your sweet child’s life.

16. Wear a locket in memory of your child

Put a portion of your child’s cremains or a lock of hair inside a locket. Be comforted knowing that everywhere you go, you’ll carry the memory of your child.

How to Keep a Friend’s Memory Alive

Are you missing your good friend? Here are some ideas of things to do in memory of a loved one

17. Celebrate their birthday with the friends you have in common.

You celebrated your friend’s birthday each year when they were alive, so why shouldn’t you continue this tradition?

Gather your shared friends and go out for a nice dinner or sing karaoke. Donate the money you would have spent on a birthday gift to your friend’s favorite charity.

18. Keep in touch with your friend’s family

Connect with your friend’s family periodically. Share photos and memories of your friend on special occasions.

Your friend’s children and grandchildren may be interested to hear funny stories about your friend from your perspective.

19. Plant a tree in your friend’s name

Donate a tree to be planted at a park, church, or school. Think of your friend every time you care for the tree or pass by.

20. Name a pet after your lost friend

If your friend was an animal lover, consider adopting a pet and naming it after your friend.

You’ll remember your friend several times a day when you talk to your new furry family member.

21. Complete one of your friend’s bucket list items

If your friend died before completing one of their life goals or bucket list, complete it in their memory.

Carry your friend’s picture with you when you walk the trail that they were never able to finish. Raise a toast for your friend when you visit the village in Germany that they always wanted to return to later in life. Publish the children’s book that they wrote posthumously. 

Keep a Loved One’s Memory Alive

Experiencing grief on your own may make you more aware of the suffering of others. Use this knowledge to comfort your friends after they lose a family member. Attend visitations and funerals. Take casseroles to grieving families. Send cards. Share memories on online memorial sites. Send flowers or houseplants to the funeral or donate to the suggested charity.

After experiencing grief in your own life, you know the importance of these simple acts. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.