9 ways to honor a loved one this holiday season

Published December 9, 2021 in Blog

The holiday season is full of joy, magic, celebration, and traditions. It can also be stressful and exhausting, even during the best of times. But when you’ve lost someone you love, this time of year can be especially hard. It’s normal to face the holidays with dread. It could be the time of year you miss them the most or when their absence from your holiday traditions is most glaring, no matter how much time has passed. There are things you can do to make sure your loved one’s memory stays alive. And who says you have to keep the same holiday traditions each year? How about incorporating your loved one into new traditions and rituals? Doing so can celebrate the way you remember them and ensure they’re a part of future holiday seasons. Here are nine creative ways to honor the memory of someone you love. 

9 ways to honor someone who has passed
Although you may feel a hole this holiday season, the following ideas can make you feel close to your loved ones as you honor their memory. 

  1. Light a special candle: Rather than light a regular candle, designate one that you light specifically to honor your loved one. Pick a scent or color that reminds you of them or that they liked. Honor their memory by lighting it on occasions that were special for them. Take the moment to think about your favorite memories and say a prayer if you feel moved to do so.  
  2. Make their favorite dish: Did your loved one have a favorite dish during the holiday season? One creative way to honor someone is to experience their favorite things. It gives you a deeper sense of who they were and helps you feel closer to them. Name the dish after them and include it in your holiday menu each year thereafter. 
  3. Repeat a tradition: Think of the holiday traditions that your loved ones liked the most. And repeat that tradition as a way to celebrate them. For example, if they always gave a certain toast, give that toast in their honor.
  4. Make a donation: Is there a place or organization that your loved one liked to volunteer? Consider making a donation to a cause in their name that held a special place in their heart. Volunteering for that organization is another way to feel closer to them. 
  5. Create a scholarship: You might be surprised to learn that creating a scholarship in someone’s memory is easier than you think. If you have the funding, you can put together a grant or scholarship for something your loved one was passionate about. You’ll honor your loved one and help someone who may not have the means to accomplish their dreams. 
  6. Share stories: If your holiday dinner or party seems especially daunting without your loved one, share stories about them and ask everyone to do the same. It’s a way to pay tribute to the loss while honoring their place in your lives. 
  7. Design a memorial: There are many different ways to create a memorial. It can be something as simple as a plaque or planting flowers, trees, or vegetables in a garden, or you can plant a tree in a public place. Every time someone visits the area, they’ll think of your loved one and how much they are missed. 
  8. Make DIY ornaments: Decorating the tree is one of the most important and memorable parts of the Christmas season. Why not make your loved ones a part of the decorating even after they are gone? Make DIY ornaments to hang, which can be a beautiful addition to your Christmas tree.
  9. Save them a seat: Setting a place at the table at your holiday meal in your loved one’s memory can be a reminder of their lasting presence in your family. And it can feel like they are still here for you during what is typically a joyous occasion to celebrate.

When you lose someone you love, it may feel like nothing will ever feel right again. But your loved one’s story doesn’t end with their passing. When you think about how to honor a loved one who has passed away, don’t focus solely on what you’ve lost or the hole they have left behind. Take time to celebrate who they were and what they accomplished. By carrying on their spirit, they’ll always be with you during the holiday season and beyond.

A special tribute to organ, eye, and tissue donors
One further option is to visit Mid-America Transplant’s Donor Memorial Monument. The 12-foot bronze sculpture stands in honor of organ and tissue donors and their families. It’s encircled by a serene fountain of water in the center of a tree-lined grassy garden. An inscription at the base of the sculpture reads, “Honoring organ and tissue donors for the Gift of Life they gave to others”. Nearby, words like Love, Hope, Courage, Life, and Heroes represent the spirit of donation and the donors themselves. For more resources, reach out to Mid-America Transplant's Aftercare Department at