Losing a loved one is a universally shared experience. However, the pain and emotion we experience is still deeply personal.

It can be difficult to accept that your friend or family member won’t be around anymore, but there are many things you can do to ensure his or her memory lives on forever:

1. Plant a Tree Using Their Ashes

plant a tree

There is something humanly beautiful about the circle of life. Cremation creates the opportunity to experience this phenomenon first hand. Use your loved one’s ashes to plant a tree in their honor.

Companies like Bios Urn and Poetree allow you to use the memory of a deceased family member or friend to impact the world in a meaningful and environmentally friendly way.

2. Name a Star After Them

stars

Stars are powerful representations for many of us, both figuratively and literally. If your deceased friend or family member was an astronomy enthusiast or just represented a strong influence in your life, star-naming is a wonderful option.

The International Star Registry is a company that will allow you to commemorate the name and memory of your loved one beautifully.

3. Get Their Portrait Tattooed on Your Skin

tattoo

If you are a body-art enthusiast, having a portrait of your loved one tattooed on your body can be a very personal way to pay tribute to someone.

Just be sure to choose a reputable artist to get the best quality work. The last thing you want is a bad experience associated with something so meaningful.

4. Keep a Diary of Your Thoughts to That Person

journal

Sometimes losing someone means being left with unexpressed feelings. Other times it means positive life experiences lose their luster when they can’t be shared with a loved one who has gone on.

Journal writing can be very therapeutic. Perhaps writing to the person you’ve lost and sharing your emotions, dreams, concerns and thoughts can keep his or her memory alive.

5. Print and Frame a Collage of Old E-mails or Texts They Sent to You

collage

We tend to miss the everyday things about the people we lose. Maybe your best friend would send you funny emails every Friday. Or maybe your husband would send you sweet texts as he thought of you throughout the day.

Crafting a collage or shadow box with reminders of the person you loved can serve as a source of inspiration.  Or, when you’re feeling down, these beautiful reminders can lift your spirits.

6. Start a Charity or Advocacy Movement in Their Honor

charity

Many people find it fulfilling to advocate on behalf of friends or family members who died tragically or unjustly. Pushing for change in the name of your loved one gives a tragic death an honorable memory.

The family of Kyle Lewis started an amoeba awareness campaign after the four-year-old died from an amoeba contracted while swimming in fresh water. The family spreads awareness about freshwater swimming and provides nose plugs for free.

7. Don’t Lose Touch With Their Family

stay in touch

Families often become distant when people pass away. Keeping in touch with each other not only keeps the memory of your loved one alive, but also honors the loved one’s desire to see your families stay together.

It doesn’t take much to periodically call or send a card to siblings or cousins. Just let them know you’re thinking of them.

8. Remember Their Birthday Every Year

birthday

Birthdays can be really hard for surviving family members and friends. Instead of being sad, though, many people throw birthday parties, visit their loved one’s grave site or participate in some other activity in their memory.

9. Write a Creative Nonfiction Story About What They Meant to You

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Special experiences shared with loved ones are dear to us. After a close friend or relative has passed away, remembering the good times and shared experiences helps keep their memory alive.

Write a short story about a particularly inspiring, deep or positive shared moment. It’s a wonderful way to both express yourself and share the memory of your companion with others.

10. If You Can, Make Sure They Know How Much They Mean to You Right Now

know you care

One of life’s hardest lessons is learning that you must show and tell the people dear to you that you love and care about them. Make sure they know how much they mean to you now. Don’t wait until they’ve gone away to appreciate life with them.

While we all suffer greatly at the loss of loved ones (which speaks volumes for the strength of love), we can channel that grief into something beautiful by focusing on honoring their lives and memories.

Featured photo credit: pamhule via flickr.com

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