“This better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all,” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
The process of loss and grief typically cycles through five different stages. Everyone progresses through these at a different rate, eventually reaching the final stage: acceptance. When the time is right for you, celebrating a departed loved one can help heal your heart, and honor the life which has passed.
Acknowledging and Processing Emotions
Saying goodbye is a necessary step to accepting the loss of a loved one, but it can feel largely negative when it’s the only component to your farewell. There are many emotions associated with death; honoring, celebrating, and remembering your loved one helps you to process all of these feelings. This progression can help you shift from feelings entirely made of negativity and despair, to those more positive and of gratefulness. Planting their favorite flower in your yard, creating a playlist of their favorite songs, reading a book that was meaningful to them, and writing a book in which everyone in the family contributes a memory are all simple yet profound means of remembrance.
Accepting the Change in Relationship
Another important aspect of celebration and remembrance of your departed loved one is the continuation of the relationship you shared. Leaving this life does not mean the relationship is entirely over, but rather, that it has changed from physical presence, to memory. You will always remember them, and how they made you feel. This stays with you and can continue to be significant in your life, especially when you make it a priority.
Recount your loved one, their hobbies, the things that meant most to them, and the things they loved to do. Make those things present in your own life from time to time to keep their memory alive. Keep them close and celebrate how they lived by taking a trip they wanted to take, participating in an activity they loved, or even completing a project that they may have left unfinished.
There is no one right or wrong means of commemorating and celebrating the beautiful, wonderful, and one-of-a-kind person your loved one was. Remember and honor them in whatever form feels right and has meaning to you. A celebration of life is not one size fits all; the point is simply to have the celebration, and proverbial toast- to absent friends.