Memorials: keep those gone a part of holidays
Each year during our holiday feasts my father does the blessing. He starts with the standard blessing of the food to our bodies, but then moves into something that is possibly unique to just a family of undertakers. He asks for a special blessing of healing to all the families we assisted that year. You see my father has always built his undertaking business around the fact that we help families heal. For the countless number of individuals my family has assisted through the years, we can’t help but simply take a small moment to remember them and the members of the family left behind.
Memorializing a loss is something that we see each and every day. Statues, monuments and even lights are put in place today to help remember a loss incurred as a family and/or a nation. But when it comes to the holiday season, it also makes things that are different from years past very apparent, and memories are sometimes all we have to hold on to. What we need to explore is the memorization of the individual so that memories can be shared for future generations.
One concept we see families incorporate during the holiday season to memorialize someone is that of simply keeping them a part of the event. For example, during the big Turkey Day feast, set a place for the one that was lost that year. And then have people share a story or memory about that individual regarding how they touched them. Place that memory on the plate where they normally would have sat and continue to then reminisce about that person.
Yes, it may bring tears, and also laughter, but each of these emotions is important to those around the table.
If this is a bit uncomfortable to do, then at the very least mention the one who was lost during the time of prayer. Giving them thanks for their love and support to the family and stating how much they will be missed.
The idea behind this is to not draw attention to the fact that they are no longer there, rather create an atmosphere allowing family members to feel comfortable to share their emotions with each other and acknowledge the one who has passed. This has benefited many families and quite frankly become an ongoing holiday tradition for some.
Perhaps a private remembrance would be more comforting, with only family near. For example, one family who had lost their child very suddenly has made a tradition to take their immediate family on a trip during the holiday season. They want to be together, in a private place to reminisce about the one they lost. This has provided them not only a comforting and private atmosphere to emotionally connect, but a “memorial trip” that each of them look forward to year after year. Ultimately, it has generated a positive outlook from a situation that is unbearable for most.
Cemeteries across the nation have actually begun incorporating areas of the cemetery to provide a place to memorialize at no cost. One concept is that of the “Christmas Angel.” This is something my father has actually incorporated in Stevensville Cemetery located on Kent Island. It is an area where people who want to pay tribute to someone can come and rest a rose or flower near the granite angel and sit in a quite area to reflect on that persons life.
This was designed to provide an atmosphere of comfort to those who desired a place to memorialize during the holiday season and throughout the year. We find that many cremation families visit throughout the year.
The idea of memorialization is nothing new. It has been around for years. However, the comfort of doing it openly and emotionally freely is something that has become more of a challenge today.
Technology allows us a place to hide and in a sense provide an emotional barrier when it comes to dealing with a loss. Let’s challenge ourselves to open up to those around us as those around us will then feel comfortable to open up as well.
Perhaps a simple prayer this holiday season, the creation of a “memorial trip,” or visiting a special place is something that will help a family heal through their loss. One thing that can be promised for those who have lost a loved one this year, know that my father will begin the Helfenbein feast with a prayer for you and your family.