40+ Things to Do In Memory of a Loved One


In the days and weeks after a loved one passes away, it is really hard to think about them. Sometimes we have to consciously push away memories of our loved ones because the grief can be overwhelming. 

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After some time passes though, grief becomes less intense. You develop the ability to be able to think about your loved ones without getting submerged in sadness. Over time, you’ll begin to find comfort and even joy in the memories of the person you’ve lost.

Getting to this point is a huge milestone, and it deserves to be celebrated. Here are some concrete ways you can begin to cherish the memories of the person or people you’ve lost.

Ideas on How to Remember Mom and Dad

Losing a parent can be particularly difficult. They were usually the ones present for nearly every major life milestone. They were the ones who have always been there for you. Trying to navigate your life without the ones who have guided you since you were born can be a lonely and scary experience.

But your parents wouldn’t want to be a source of pain for you. These are some of the ways you can honor their memories: 

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1. Organize and share their photographs

Many parents have boxes and boxes of old photographs that their kids may not have seen in years. If that’s the case for you, take the time to go through and digitize those photographs. You can scan them yourself, or hire a professional service to scan them for you. You can upload them to a Facebook group or website and organize them. If your parents were the types of people to write notes on the backs of photographs, you can transcribe them online as well.

In doing this, not only will you preserve your family history, you’ll be able to rediscover memories of times you may have forgotten. Putting them online will give you the chance to share these memories with other family members, and may even open the doors to create stronger bonds with them. 

2. Honor their holiday traditions

Even when we’re adults, our parents often continue organizing holiday celebrations and including traditions from your own childhood. Even if they’re gone, you can keep their memories alive by making sure those traditions continue.

Prepare Thanksgiving dinner with the same recipes they once used, and use the fine china they saved for special occasions. Decorate the Christmas tree using the ornaments you remember from your childhood. In keeping their traditions alive, you’ll help keep their memories alive.

3. Support charities they believed in

Donating to an organization that your parents believed in doesn’t just help out a charity. You’ll also benefit from the positive feeling you get from helping out an organization that was important to them.

Doing some good in the world is an excellent way to add to their legacy.

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4. Take part in shared hobbies

It’s entirely understandable that you might stay away from the tennis courts for a while if you used to play doubles with your parents on the weekends.

But take that or another shared hobby up again when the grief has faded a little bit. Your parents wouldn’t want you to leave behind a cherished activity forever. 

5. Create a family tree

Sometimes the pain of losing our parents makes you want to avoid thinking about them and the rest of your family by extension. But staying in that mindset for too long means your memories of your family history may begin to fade.

Exploring your family’s history and ancestry can be a healing exercise.

6. Prepare the meals they taught you to cook

Food is one of the few universal constants that brings people together. The smell and taste of food also evokes powerful memories.

These memories may be too strong to deal with immediately after they die. But when you’re ready, preparing a meal you used to prepare with them can be a soothing ritual. 

7. Tell their life stories 

The best way to keep someone’s memory alive is to make sure that stories of them continue to be told. Write down your best memories of your mom and dad, and share other stories they told you.

Preserve the memories of how they met and how they raised you so you can share them with your own children and grandchildren. 

8. Buy a memorial bench

Many public parks will allow people to dedicate benches to the memory of a loved one who has died in exchange for a donation.

Dedicating a memorial bench will give you a place to go and think about them and feel close to them. You’ll also know that other people who visit the park will benefit from its presence. 

9. Plant a tree in their memory

Planting a tree is a lovely symbolic gesture that life can continue to go on and flourish, even after death.

Many people choose gingko to serve as a memory tree as a tongue-in-cheek reference: extract from the gingko tree is used as a memory aid. 

10. Visit the place they came from

Sometimes a long journey can actually bring you closer to your home. If your parents were from abroad, consider visiting their homeland. Seeing the place where they came from can help you learn more about them, even in death. 

Ideas on How to Remember a Sibling

There’s a saying that goes, “siblings are your first best friend.” Losing a sibling is a double blow, because you are losing a friend and family member all in one. Here are a few ways to honor that unique bond: 

11. Listen to your shared favorite artists 

Music, like food, is strongly tied to memory. Listening to music from your childhood can bring memories from that time to the surface.

This may make it hard to listen to music you once listened to with your sibling at first. But as time goes by, those songs will help you feel closer to them.  

12. Connect with their children

It’s difficult for children to lose a parent. When you’re all ready, share some stories about your sibling with your family.

Your nieces and nephews will cherish learning new things about one of their parents. 

13. Revisit a favorite childhood destination

If your family had a favorite vacation spot when you were growing up, consider taking a trip back as an adult. Revisiting that spot as an adult will help you reconnect with fond childhood memories with your sibling. 

14. Get a tattoo in their honor

If you want a lasting memorial for your sibling, it doesn’t get much more permanent than a tattoo. Popular memorial tattoos include angel wings or a quote written in the handwriting of a person who has died. 

» MORE: Are you preparing for the loss of a loved one? Get support now.

15. Adopt an animal

If your sibling was an animal lover, you can adopt a wild animal through the World Wildlife Fund. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a pet tiger. But it does mean that an endangered animal somewhere in the world will benefit from your support.  

16. Organize a memorial fundraiser

If your sibling passed away from an illness, helping raise funds can give you some closure. Organize a 5K or Walkathon with any funds raised going to a research organization that’s searching for a cure. 

17. Complete a project that mattered to them

If your sibling was writing a book or organizing a class reunion or painting a picture, you can finish it if you have the skillset. Wrapping up something that was important to them is a great way to feel connected. 

18. Put up childhood photos

Take time to sit with your parents and go through old family photos. Find some photographs of you and your siblings from throughout your lives together and get them framed. This will help you stay focused on positive memories of them. 

19. Release balloons on their birthday

When a loved one dies, days like their birthday can become tainted by sadness. Try and reclaim that day by releasing biodegradable balloons. This symbolic act of letting go may help you heal. 

20. Wear a locket

Keep your loved one close to your heart by wearing a locket with pictures of you both inside. If there happens to be a locket that has been in the family for some time, that can add another layer of personal meaning. 

Ideas on How to Remember a Spouse or Partner

Whether you’ve spent five years together or fifty, the loss of a spouse is a difficult thing to go through. The healing process is a long one. But there are ways you can remember them that can help your own healing and even benefit the world around you. 

21. Create a memorial scholarship

If you and your spouse attended the same high school or college, you can fund a memorial scholarship in their honor. Keep your spouse’s memory alive by giving advantages to a student in need. 

22. Get memorial jewelry made

It may become too painful to wear your wedding rings after losing a spouse. Over time though, you may feel ready to wear jewelry that commemorates your spouse. If your spouse was cremated, there are several kinds of cremation jewelry that are a unique way to keep your loved one with you. 

23. Memorial seed packets

Creating life in honor of someone who died is a beautiful way to bring positivity to tragedy. You can commission memorial wildflower seed packets to pass along to family and friends to bring color alive all around the world. 

24. Preserve their handwriting 

Handwriting is one of the most unique things about a person. You can scan and digitize handwritten documents and get the handwriting turned into a font. If you share children together, you may want to use this font to write letters to them with information your spouse would have wanted shared. 

25. Write letters

It can be hard living without your partner in life. Writing them letters letting them know what’s happening in your life can help you feel less alone. It also keeps their memory alive within you. 

26. Get a memorial quilt made

When your spouse passes away, the time will come for you to let go of some of their possessions. But there’s a way to repurpose some of them and keep them with you.

You can have some of your spouse’s favorite articles of clothing made into a memorial quilt that will continue keeping you warm.  

27. Commission artwork

If there’s a photograph of your loved one that you’re especially fond of, consider hiring an artist to create a sketch or painting based on it. It can be healing to look at a cherished photo in a new way. 

28. Take a second honeymoon 

When you’re ready to travel again, consider revisiting your honeymoon. Exploring the same place where you started your marriage will help you feel connected to your spouse’s memory. 

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how to make it easier.

29. Encourage random acts of kindness

Whenever you’re faced with the opportunity to do a kindness for someone, take advantage of it. If they offer to pay you back, ask them to pay it forward in memory of your spouse instead. 

30. Put together a memorial chest

You may have special items that belonged to your spouse that you want to keep for sentimental reasons. These may include items like cufflinks, wedding bands, or love letters.  Keep these together in an engraved decorative box that you can revisit when you need to. 

Ideas on How to Remember a Friend

Some friends are really more like chosen family. When those friends die, you will want to commemorate them the same way you would any family member. 

31. Create a playlist

If you and your friend enjoyed going out dancing or attending concerts, create a playlist in their honor. Fill it with songs you know they loved, and it can help you bring a smile to your face. 

32. Keep something of theirs with you

Something as simple as an item of clothing can help you feel connected to the memory of your friend. Use one of their t-shirts as a nightshirt or wear a piece of jewelry of theirs as a kind of friendship bracelet. 

33. Raise a glass

Pick up a bottle of your friend’s favorite wine or a six-pack of their favorite microbrew and have a toast in their honor. Don’t want to drink alone? Make it into a gathering with some mutual pals and share happy stories about your late friend. 

34. Check items off of their bucket list

Did your friend dream of traveling to Australia or idly talk about starting a podcast? Keep them alive by fulfilling the dreams they never got around to realizing. 

35. Create a culinary memorial

If you and your friend were regulars at a restaurant or cafe, ask the proprietors about temporarily or permanently naming a dish or drink after them. It’s a lasting way to celebrate your friend’s (literal) good taste.   

36. Fulfill their hopes for you

Our friends are always our biggest cheerleaders. If your friend encouraged you to do something that scares you - like sing karaoke or try stand-up comedy - take the leap. Their faith in you should be realized. 

37. Create a memorial website

Even if your social circle is spread across the world, you can come together online to celebrate your friend. Create an online memorial website where people can post pictures and share stories about your friend.

38. Visit a butterfly garden

In many cultures, butterflies are seen as representations of the soul. Visiting a butterfly garden can help you feel a little closer to the spirits of people you’ve loved and lost. 

39. Support something close to their hearts

If your friend was passionate about literacy, you can donate books to the local library. If they were devoted to ending hunger, host a food drive for the local food bank. Whatever your friend cared about, make sure you support it now that they no longer can. 

40. Create a scrapbook or photo album

So many of our photographs and memories live online in digital spaces. Creating a physical photo album or scrapbook can help make your memories more concrete.

41. Put an "in loving memory" decal on your car

A decal on your car or window will allow you to keep a memory with you at home or wherever you travel. Personalizing it as an "in loving memory" decal is a special way to honor your loved one.

Memorializing a Loved One

The people we love are as unique as snowflakes. As such, there is no universal list of ways to help their memory live on. Concentrate on finding a specific way to honor them that is true to who they are. You will know best how to ensure their memory lives on.  

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