Category: Grief

Creating New Holiday Traditions After a Loss

The holiday season is an emotional time of year, with a strong focus on family and tradition. For people who have experienced a loss, it can be a difficult period to navigate. That’s especially true if it is the first holiday season without a loved one. Creating new holiday traditions can help with the grieving process. As these new traditions evolve, they can serve to honor and memorialize a lost loved one, enshrining that loved one in the family story.

Turn Focus Outward

For the recently bereaved, it may be too soon for the usual hosting of family gatherings or making the rounds visiting family and friends. That is fine. After all, you can return to those things when the loss is less raw, when the pain becomes more manageable.

Instead, consider adding the tradition of volunteer work. Visit senior citizens in nursing homes, spend a bit of time with shut-ins or seek out someone who is also dealing with a loss and help each other through the holiday season. Support a cause that was important to your loved one, with either money or time.

Helping others helps shift your focus from your own loss in a positive, productive way. Later on, as you work your way through the grieving process and return to your more traditional ways of celebrating the holidays, bring this new tradition forward with you.

Incorporate New Ideas

Many cultures have different ways of honoring their departed families. Indeed, there’s much that we can learn from other cultures and incorporate into our own holiday celebrations. Several cultures have an annual period of remembrance. These remembrance gatherings are more about celebrating lives than grieving their loss. Traditions associated with these gatherings include preparing the favorite foods of the departed, along with other traditional dishes, and gathering together to share stories about departed family members.

In some cultures, they gather at the person’s resting spot to share the meal and the memories. Other cultures gather at the family home. The place doesn’t matter as much as the tradition of celebrating the lives of the loved ones, keeping the threads that weave the family tapestry strong and making sure they live on in the memories of the next generation. Create similar traditions for your holiday season.

Blend In The Old

The loss of a loved one never goes away, but it does become easier to bear over time. During the early stages, every memory can be painful. However, as time goes on, that changes. The ancient Christmas star he put on top of the tree every year or the special china she always set the holiday table with brings more comfort than sorrow. Return some of those old traditions to your holiday season when you’re ready and make sure the children know their stories.

Stories Strengthen

Stories have been with us from time immemorial. Oral histories passed down from generation to generation, family traditions, recipes and legends are all a part of who we are. They strengthen the connections between the different generations in a family. Record the story of your departed loved one, his or her childhood, struggles, triumphs, hobbies, interests, favorite foods, music and books. Encourage family members to contribute their memories. Add the sharing of that story to your holiday traditions, whether via preparing a favorite dish, sharing favorite corny jokes or holiday memories.

Your First Thanksgiving Without a Loved One

Losing a loved one is a major struggle that everyone has to go through in life. It’s painful and difficult, especially if a holiday approaches as you overcome your grief. If you recently lost a loved one before this Thanksgiving season, we have some points you should remember to help you during an extremely difficult time in your life.

Spend It With Others

Many people make the mistake of isolating themselves on holidays when they lose someone close to them, but you shouldn’t do this. If you don’t have current plans, you can always get in contact with friends and family that live near you. If you don’t live close to any friends or family, you can always ask people to have a video chat with you on Thanksgiving. This way, you can at least interact with others and lower your worries during this season. Know that this year will be different, it may be painful and difficult at moments, but spending the holiday season with others allows you to create new, special monuments that will help you remain thankful for all you have.

Be Grateful for Your Memories

Thanksgiving is the time of year where people focus on having fun, eating and showing their gratitude for what they have. This may seem strange, but you could focus on being grateful for the great memories you have with that special person. You can invite other people that knew the person who passed away. You can all spend some time talking about those happy moments and memories with each other. You can then express your gratitude for having those memories and remember that you can call upon them during difficult moments in life.

Dedicate Something to Your Loved One

You can spend some time before or during the holiday season creating something you can dedicate to your loved one. For example, you could create a scrapbook filled with pictures of you both as a memento to your loved one’s life. You could look into creating similar things that will allow you to honor your loved one’s memory.You can also create a monument and put it in a place that would mean a lot to you. For example, you could put a monument in your backyard or in similar areas where you think it would be appropriate and reasonable. This way, you can dedicate something to your loved one in a positive way that will help you cope with his or her passing.

Final Thoughts

It’s never easy when you lose someone close to you, especially if it happens during a holiday season. Even though there may be hard times this Thanksgiving, you can overcome it.

Veterans Day: Top Memorials Dedicated to American Heroes

As Veterans Day approaches, we wanted to share a list of the most popular monuments that memorialize our heroes. From all of us at Monuments of Victoria, Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, and thank you for your sacrifice!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Washington D.C.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery was originally dedicated in 1921 and is the resting place of a soldier who was killed in World War I. In 1937, a 24 hour guard was placed on the tomb as the site became more popular. Unknowns from World War II and Korea are also buried here, and there is a memorial dedicated to all those lost and missing in Vietnam.

Community Veterans Memorial, Indiana

The Community Veterans Memorial in Munster, Indiana honors all who fight and has a paved area featuring the names of individual soldiers from the area. Sculptures by artist Omri Amrany are featured throughout the park in a timeline.

National World War I Museum and Memorial, Missouri

The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri features the larges collection of World War I memorabilia in the nation. The physical site is quite powerful; visitors visit the museum itself at the bottom of a long hill and the space feels like a bunker. You can then take an elevator or climb to the top of the hill above the bunker to enjoy the Liberty Memorial at the top of the hill. There are both permanent and traveling exhibitions featured in the different buildings on site.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Ohio

A visit to the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio, offers those who wish to honor our national fighters at a detailed level. Stories and experiences, as well as images when possible, from soldiers of the many wars our nation has faced are gathered and told here. Plan to spend some time here; there’s a Memorial Grove near the museum that provides a spot to reflect and remember.

Battleship South Dakota Memorial

The US Battleship South Dakota (BB 57) was the most highly decorated battleship to serve in World War II. During her service, this ship and her crew were known as Battleship X. The museum and memorial feature a walking path around the perimeter that encompasses the dimensions of the ship. There’s also a large collection of photographs, taken by journalists and the crew, of launch days and life aboard ship. This memorial is well worth a trip to Sioux Falls!

Veterans War Memorial of Texas

A visit to the Veterans War Memorial of Texas in McAllen, Texas, honors the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force each Pearl Harbor and Veterans Day, as well as hosting special events on Memorial Day and the 4th of July. This sizable park hosts an impressive parade and a chance to view the black granite American Spire of Honor. Names of veterans are listed on walls around the site and there are statues commemorating the bravery of American soldiers.

USS Texas Battleship

Northeast of McAllen, Texas, you’ll find the USS Texas Battleship in Houston. This floating museum has worked hard for our nation for a long time and is still educating future patriots. She was commissioned and built for the Great War, then put into service again for World War II. Walter Cronkite broadcast the Atlantic crossing into the battles of World War II from her deck. There are “hardhat” tours available as the clearance is low and she’s under refurbishment, but anyone interested in 20th-century naval history will appreciate an understanding of the challenges our defenders have faced.

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, California

For both a physical and a virtual presence, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in La Jolla, California offers visitors the chance to put a face to the name of a soldier lost in war. All branches of the service are honored, and the goal is to offer a visual representation of veterans who served their country. Any name can be added to this memorial; the only requirement is that the soldier have been honorably discharged.

Final Thoughts

There are many sites across the country that give us the chance to honor our veterans. No matter how far you are able to travel, you can likely find a memorial, a park or a statue where you can share a thought or place a flower.

Helping Children Deal with Grief

Grief is a complicated emotional process for everyone, irrespective of their age. However, taking a teenager or child through the reality of death is one of the most challenging experiences for a parent. It is difficult to know how to help your child during this time, let alone finding the right words to use.

Sometimes parents may think that their children don’t understand what’s going on. The truth is that most children are aware when death occurs.

The concept of death is all around us, often depicted in various ways through encounters children have or things they watch on television. But when the experience comes closer to them, it’s often much more difficult to deal with.

As a parent, it is difficult to protect your child from bearing the pain of loss but you can provide comfort and help him or her feel safe. You should also note that children grieve differently. However, there are common signs that most of them present when faced with death.

They include the following:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interesting in engaging in normal activities
  • Regression to younger behavior
  • Changes in school grades
  • Lack of interest in playing with other kids

Below are some of the ways you can help your child or children deal with grief:

1. Apply creative expression

As mentioned earlier different children react to death differently. This means that you have to be creative in the way you try to help your child. While there are those who may prefer to openly discuss the loss, you should also come up with creative ways of helping them to adjust to the new reality.

Some children may express their emotions by listening to music, playing with dolls, drawing, painting, or even writing daily journals. Try to meet your child where they are and recommend other ways if they still don’t feel comfortable to talk.

2. Be straightforward

When talking about death, avoid using a euphemism. Children are very literal in the way they interpret what they hear. For example, telling them a loved one has “slept” may be confusing to them. It is better to use words that are clear in terms of meaning to help them cope well.

3. Get an opportunity to foster relationships

When children lose people who meant a lot to them, it is a chance for them to strengthen relationships with those left behind. They are usually in a confused state and need someone that can support them during grief. Sometimes they may find comfort in a friend or kin who underwent the same situation recently.

4. Discuss an afterlife

Talking about the afterlife can be very beneficial to a child who is grieving according to psychologists.

If you are a religious family, this is the perfect time to share the idea of life after death. Try to comfort the child by assuring them that a loved one has not died but is resting with the angels in heaven.

Even if you are not a religious person, you can still use the concept of the afterlife to build feelings of comfort in your child.

5. Stick to routines

Children find a lot of comfort in routines. If you have a tight schedule that prohibits your ability to oversee a routine, try to get relatives or friends who can help keep the child on as normal and structured of a routine as possible. As much as grieving is important, it is also important to make your child understand that life has to move on.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, it is not easy to take a child or children through a grieving process. But with a bit of creativity you can comfort your child and prevent grief from affecting them long-term. 

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