In Memory of a Loved One: 7 Ways of Honoring a Deceased Relative

What should you do in memory of a loved one who has passed away? This could be a parent or other close relative, a dear friend, a former teacher or mentor, or anyone who was special to you.

It might even be someone who influenced you a great deal, even though you never met the person. A favorite author? A world leader? An artist? It also could be a beloved pet, who meant everything to you.

Whoever the deceased was, you need to do something very special to honor their memory. And we believe what you do to honor the deceased should be a reflection of how they lived and what you admired about them.

7 Things to Do in Memory of a Loved One

Give this careful thought, knowing that planning is an important bereavement process. It allows, and in fact, encourages you to focus on positive things about the person and the good life they lived. There is no rush.

The following are seven things either you might consider actually doing or that might motivate you and give energy to your thought processes.

1. A Dedicated Space

A dedicated space could be something as small as a park bench or as large as an entire building. What’s important, though, is that it evokes fond memories of someone who has passed away. It is connected to that person in some way.

For example, if the person loved pets, or if the memorial is for a late pet, why not start a fundraising campaign to build a dog park. Or if it was someone who loved the outdoors, why not name a tree or a public garden in their memory?

2. A Commissioned Work of Art

This is another fundraising idea: commissioning a work of art such as a painting or sculpture to be located in a public place. This could be in the deceased’s former workplace or near where they lived or, perhaps, where they did volunteer work.

It should be in a place where people who knew the person are likely to walk past it often. As for the artist, we’d recommend someone the deceased knew personally, or else a younger artist–someone just starting their career.

3. A Scholarship

Another of the many ways to honor someone is by allowing their spirit to live on in someone else. Paying for someone’s education is a great way to do this! Many families want mourners to give to a cause “in lieu of flowers.”

Giving toward a scholarship would make good sense. College scholarships can be awarded through high schools, colleges, or independent organizations. One that the deceased was affiliated with usually is the best choice.

4. Naming a Part of a School or College

Another of the things you can do in memory of a loved one is buying the naming rights to a space. This can be as small a space as a theater seat or as large as the building that houses the theater.

Colleges, museums, arts venues, and other non-profits solicit donors for these opportunities every time a facility is added or replaced. As soon as you express interest to the organization, expect someone to reach out to you.

5. An Online Memorial

An online memorial is a more private way of celebrating someone’s life than those we’ve mentioned so far. Online memorials are often created in conjunction with a funeral–often by the selected funeral home.

Others exist independently, though. You can begin by designing the overall look and adding the initial content based on your memories of your loved one. Then reach out to others and invite them to add their memories to yours.

If you don’t want to create the memorial website yourself, some businesses will create them for you, according to your specifications.

6. Adopting a Practice or Disposition

This is something you can do in memory of a loved one that no one else will even know about (unless they are extremely familiar with the relationship you had with your loved one. It’s a way to bring them back in spirit through your thoughts and actions.

Begin by trying to remember something that person did that was unique and special–something that made others happy or feel cared about. It’s probably something only you knew the person well enough to emulate.

For example, your mother might have had a tradition of bringing a gently-used book with her whenever she visited someone she hadn’t seen in a while. She had so much fun picking just the right book for the intended recipient!

7. Time with Others Who Loved the Deceased

Staying in contact with family might seem perfunctory for some. But we know of extended families who will go for years without seeing one another. Sometimes, they’ll leave a funeral saying, “See you at the next funeral.”

The glibness of this sometimes heightens the sadness of the occasion.

Why not make a point of replying, “Let’s have a non-funeral family get-together for a change.” And then offer to do the planning for the event. Your reunion can be fun but also one of the ways to honor someone who’s passed away.

You can see that we prefer creative ways of keeping people’s memories alive. We also like giving in ways that help those who never knew the deceased to learn about them through memorials.

Be sure to say a bit about the deceased as part of whatever memorial you create–whether a plaque under a painting, in an award letter to a scholarship recipient, or through an online memorial you create.

The End… Is a New Beginning

Many people become better known by others in death than they ever were in life. Just think of the historical figures you learn about in school. And many of us have grandparents who died before we were even born.

But you should try to learn as much as possible about relatives and close friends while they’re living too. That way, you will know exactly what they would want their legacy to be and what part you might play in realizing that.

Doing something special in memory of a loved one is your–and their–gift to future generations. your love and generosity can make it special indeed.

Of course, dealing with grief is one form of personal development. If you’re interested in other types of personal development, keep reading our very interesting and engaging blog.