Walking in a beautiful memorial park in Coventry, England, dedicated to the huge numbers of men killed in both World Wars, I felt the peace in the air.

All around me on this sunny day, families were out picnicking, playing and enjoying themselves and yet there was still a sense of peace. What a beautiful place was created for these brave souls.

Planting trees in memory of a loved one is quite common these days, and although this park was created by the local council, there are many things that can be done to remember your loved one in a more personal way. Here are my 9 suggestions.

 
 

Turn A Piece of Their Clothing into a Teddy Bear

If you decide to put your time to creating a teddy bear out of a loved one’s piece of clothing, this means the owner of the bear has something very special to cuddle, and the creator of the bear infuses the soft toy with a lot of meaning.

Make a Patchwork Quilt with Their Old Clothes

A similar idea is creating a quilt out of your loved one’s clothes. You can wrap yourself in it and get a taste of the person through their clothes.

Create a Memorial Garden or a Special Area

A special place doesn’t need to include a gravestone in a cemetery. It is something particular to you. It doesn’t have to contain your loved one’s ashes, or to be created at the place they are buried. It is the creation of an area full of life in the form of plants, which you can tend while remembering them.

Keep One of Their Items of Jewelry to Wear

Wearing a pendant, watch, ring or other item of jewelry that used to belong to your loved one keeps them close to you. While you will get used to it, from time to time you’ll also pause and remember them more consciously.

Have Their Ashes Turned into a Piece of Jewelry

Or you can have their ashes turned into a piece of jewelry. There are many sites these days that offer this service, and it’s an idea that people tend to either love or hate.

If it appeals to you, discuss it with the person before they die, if you can. Allow them to create the design with you – that way it will make it even more personal.

Think of Their Enthusiasm and Use That in Their Memory

It’s always nice to remember your loved one’s passion or hobby, and implement it in some way. For instance, for someone who was a wine lover, you can plant a memorial vine.

If they loved to cook, make sure their favorite recipe is passed on down through the family; or create a new recipe with some of their favorite foods in it. Discuss it with the person beforehand if you possibly can.

Name Something After Them

Another good idea is to name something after them. It could be a new species of rose, a new dish that everyone in the family loves to eat, a special book, or a star.

My husband’s daughter gave him a birthday present of naming a star after him just a few days before he died. He called it “Love is the answer.” Now I have the certificate. and every time I look up into the night sky, I look at where his star is and think of him.

Host a Dinner in Their Memory Every Year

Create a ritual to keep your loved one in your memory. We often do this automatically on the day of their death, but I invite you to make this even more of an occasion by ritualizing it.

For instance, instead of simply visiting a grave, the family could do an activity together in memory of their loved one. They could create something together; eat a meal and toast the person; read some of their words, or watch a video together.

Plant a Wildflower Area

If the person you loved is someone who loved nature, plant a wildflower area in your garden, or even just scatter some wildflower seeds in the countryside somewhere.

If you care about how you are remembered, you may want to discuss these kinds of things with your family and friends well before the end of your life.

This is just one aspect of an end of life plan that those left behind will be very grateful for, and which is discussed in much more detail in my forthcoming book, Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating A Good End of Life Plan.

It is easy to underestimate how important we are to people, and they often only discover it too late, after we have died, when the lament “I wish I had known what they wanted” is not uncommon.

To avoid such distress, end of life plans need to be discussed, drawn up, and written down, creating a great gift for your family and friends.

Have you thought of ways you’d like to be remembered by your family and friends? Did you give a list of possibilities to your loved ones? Please share some of the things that would make great reminders of you!

Jane Duncan RogersJane Duncan Rogers runs Before I Go Solutions, a not-for-profit organization that helps people design and create their end of life plans. An award-winning coach, she is author of Gifted by Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth, and Before I Go: Practical Questions to Ask and Answer Before You Die. Find out how well prepared you are for your own end of life by taking her free quiz.

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