How to Commemorate your Loved One on Memorial Day if…

…they served in the military.

Although Memorial Day has different meanings for different people, at its heart, Memorial Day is a time to remember and appreciate our military—especially those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our country. One thing you can do to personally pay your respects to loved ones who served the United States is by attending your community’s Memorial Day events. Run a Freedom 5K or attend a speaking event or check in with your local cemetery: sometimes they arrange special holiday events. Another way you could celebrate the life of your loved one is by supporting our current troops by making donations to military organizations or putting up flags in your neighborhood.

…they were cremated.

You may feel that you have no way of paying your respects when your loved one is cremated and their ashes are not buried in a marked location. We get caught up in the idea that the only way to show our love on Memorial Day is by bringing flowers or a wreath to a headstone in a cemetery. This is not the case! There are so many ways to commemorate those we have lost! If your loved one’s cremains were scattered somewhere, take a walk in that area with your family. Perhaps their ashes are kept somewhere in your home, or the home of another relative. Take their urn on a picnic, dust it off and move it to a new location, put up framed pictures of your loved one next to where their cremains rest. Don’t worry about being in a physical space in order to remember—memories are mental!

…you live far from their gravesite.

It may be impossible for you to go and visit the gravesite of your loved one because of where it is located. You can still celebrate their life on Memorial Day without physically being near them. Pull out the old photo albums and go through them with your kids. Take some time on a website like Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com to explore their relatives and add memories you have of them. Spend some time doing an activity they loved, or eat their favorite meal for dinner. Call a family member or friend who also knew your loved one and chat with them for a while. Play old home videos outside on a projector screen. Listen to their favorite record album or go visit a place you think they’d love. There’s no wrong way to remember!

…you’ve lost a child.

There’s a lot of talk on Memorial Day about “celebrating the life of those we’ve lost,” but when the person you’re missing is part of your posterity, it can feel impossible to celebrate without them near. We’ve heard it said that the best thing you can do for someone who loved you is love the time you have left. This Memorial Day, try focusing on yourself. Get out of your daily routine and do something you’ve been missing. Find somewhere peaceful to go alone and meditate or read a book. Get a massage and buy some chocolate truffles. Perhaps this year, Memorial Day is about remembering what you need.

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