A friend can hold a special place in your heart because you chose each other for all the wonderful qualities you found in the other. You weren't forced together by way of birth or through family lineage. You actually picked each other from all the other strangers you could've made friends with. When you're dealing with the loss of a friend, you suffer in ways that differ from losing a family member.
Your friend is your confidant, partner in crime, human Kleenex, and one of your biggest supporters. When they die, a part of your soul can feel like it’s shattered. All the good times (and not so good times) that you shared, all the memories that you made, and the secrets that you kept are now all that's left. There are many special ways to honor and commemorate your friend's life for all the remarkable ways they added to yours.
1. Carry a Keepsake in Your Pocket
No one has to know that your pockets are lined with rocks. Ask your friend’s family for permission to go through your friend’s personal belongings. Let them know that you'd like to choose a small memento that holds special meaning for just the two of you.
It can be something simple like a concert ticket, a band pin from the 90s, or a photo of you together at the beach. These are special memories that you can hold in your hand or carry tucked in your pocket. Whenever you're feeling down, you can reach your hand in there and feel your friend close to you.
If it’s not possible to go through your friend’s belongings, consider a special trip of remembrance to the beach or woods. Focus your energy and attention on your friend and ask the universe to guide you to a special shell or rock that you can call your own in honor of your friend. You can carry this with you instead. Every time you are missing your friend, you can reach into your pocket and hold a piece of them.
2. Say Special Words at Their Funeral
You may ask the family for permission to speak at the funeral to say a few words about your friend and what they meant to you. Consider preparing a short eulogy so that you can read directly from it, or use it as a guide when you’re speaking. The funeral or memorial service is the appropriate time to share with others the special memories you have of your friend.
You may also consider adding humor to your speech and giving guests a glimpse of another side of your friend that they may not be familiar with.
Some things may not be appropriate to share with everyone. Discretion should be given in preparing your notes. No one needs to know that your friend made out with the quarterback in the back of dad's car - even if it's a funny story.
3. Hold a Special Dinner in Their Honor
An amazing way to bring all your friend's loved ones together is to host a special meal in your friend’s honor. This can be an informal luncheon hosted at your house or you can opt for a more formal event catered at their favorite restaurant.
Consider checking in with others about their plans that may already have been set in place. Days after the funeral may usually be reserved for the immediate family to gather in honor of their loved one. You can always plan your gathering for a later date, or to commemorate a special day such as a birthday or anniversary.
Consider starting a Facebook page in honor of your friend so that you can build a guest list based on its followers. You can even ask others to send in favorite recipes of food your friend loved.
Or, you can turn this event into a potluck of favorite dishes prepared by some of your friend’s favorite people. This allows everyone to add to their own special touch to the celebration. The page can also be used to send the family sympathy messages and condolences.
4. Start a New Tradition
One fun way to honor your friend's life is to do something in their honor that is unique only to them. If they were a runner, consider gathering friends and family for a yearly fundraising walk. Donate all proceeds to charity in their name.
Another way is to establish a small scholarship to students following in your friend's path. This can include a similar career, hobby, or special skill. To fund the scholarship, you may want to ask others to chip in whatever they can afford, or you can fundraise on your own through a side job or online sales of unwanted things around your house.
5. Share Stories and Photos
Who doesn't like to sit and look through old photos? This can be a great way to learn about other aspects of your friend's life. Using social media is an easy way to ask others to contribute copies of their old photos and to provide the context that makes up those memories. You'll be surprised at the things you'll learn about your friend.
Everyone who participates may also enjoy sharing their memories with the group. This is a different and fun way to stay connected to your friend and help keep their memory alive.
As you find yourself sharing with others, keep your mind open to the possibility of making a new friend from those who have joined your page. All of you are connected through your special and unique friend. The things that attracted you to them may be the very things that you find you have in common.
6. Memorial Bench
Have you ever been to a park and seen memorial benches with people's names on them? These benches are donated by people just like you, who want to find a public way to honor the memory of their loved one. You can find them at almost every public space for that matter - community centers, dog parks, bus stops, cemeteries, and just about anywhere people like to sit.
There are even special bricks that you can buy with your loved one's name engraved on them, which are then used in public spaces to beautify the landscape. You can choose the area you wish to improve, and you can donate anywhere from a single brick to an entire pathway.
7. Plant a Tree
A great reminder of the circle of life is how a tree goes from sap to seedling. When one thing dies, another is born and grows into maturity. And that's how life goes. We're born, we grow, we live and we die. A tree that is nurtured and fed grows into its full maturity and provides us with shade and protection. When it's torn down and used for building, it shelters us. Your friendships can be seen in much the same way.
Planting a tree can be nurturing much like your friend, and you can look at this as a way to keep that relationship going. Consider planting the tree in your home garden or in a shared space that everyone can enjoy.
A tree, much like your friend can help you protect each other, provide shelter from the storms of life, and when you're brought down, the other falls alongside you to help you up. Never underestimate the power of a little tree.
8. Get a Tattoo
Depending on whether you have a wild streak in you, a tattoo might offer just the right amount of rebellion to ease the pain of losing your friend. Tattoos are a very permanent way to remember them, so think before you ink. If that doesn't scare you, then consider getting a beautiful dragonfly or another symbol that best represents the memory you want to have of your friend.
You can get a tattoo where only you know that it's there. Or you can go all out and get a colorful sleeve full of things that remind you of your friend. This is one sure way of never forgetting them.
9. Adopt a Pet
There are so many cute furry friends that need a forever home. Try saying that all the way to the shelter without missing a beat. And, when you get there, consider all the reasons why you made the trip:
- Are you trying to replace the friendship that you lost?
- Have you given yourself time to grieve your friend's death?
- Did they ask that you shelter an animal in their memory?
- Can you afford a new pet?
- Do you have the time needed to take care of it?
- Do you even know how?
- Will you still want it when you've resolved your grief?
Remembering a Friend Who Has Passed Away
There are so many ways to honor your friend's memory. Finding ways to remember them will become easier once the shock of their death has settled in.
You don't have to forget about them because they've died, and the memory of them doesn't have to make you cry each time you think about them. You can turn your pain and sorrow into a celebration of their life.