After a loved one passes, grief triggers can feel as though they’re everywhere. And, when the holiday season hits? Those triggers can feel stronger than ever.
Do you get them a gift? Do you keep a place for them at the table? Or do you pack away their Christmas stocking and placecard, never to be seen again?
Of course, there’s no ‘perfect’ way to acknowledge a deceased loved one during the festive season. And there’s no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ either.
However, if you are considering doing something special with their Christmas stocking this year in honour of them, here are some of our team’s top ideas. We hope you love them as much as we do.
Fill their stocking with their favourite things
Yes, it sounds simple. And that’s because it is. When you’re doing your regular Christmas stocking shopping this year, look out for items you know they’d love if they were still here today. And then buy them and pop them into their stocking.
Write them letters.
Ask all their loved ones to write letters or cards, sharing some of their favourite Christmas memories with the deceased. Then, on Christmas Day, if you feel up to it, those who feel comfortable can choose to fish their notes out of the stocking and read out their memories to everyone present. This can be a really lovely way to remember the special times and honour the positive moments with your loved one.
Turn their stocking into someone else's stocking.
Has a family member recently had a baby? Maybe a new partner, fiancee or husband/wife has entered the picture? Consider turning the deceased’s stocking into yours or someone else’s, so it remains in the family and holds a little extra meaning.
Create Christmas keepsakes from the stocking.
Get creative and brainstorm ways you can turn their stocking into something new you can cherish every Christmas. For example, create new decorations for the tree (YouTube has some incredible tutorials, so definitely take some time to sort through those if you want to try something challenging), or create a table runner (if their stocking is large enough and in good condition). The world’s your oyster.
Light a candle or place a picture in their spot.
Placing a candle or framed photo in the place their stocking usually hangs is a lovely way to remember those that are no longer with us throughout the festive period. You can get creative with this idea too, and maybe pop some of their favourite items (instead of a candle or photo) there instead. Anything that helps you remember them positively, and that saves their space on the mantel… or wherever you usually hang your stockings.
Fill their stocking with gifts they've given you.
Pop your favourite gifts that you’ve received from them in the past, in their stocking. And then, on Christmas Day, take turns to fish your item out of the stocking and explain its meaning to the rest of the family. Storytelling can be a really special way to honour a deceased loved one during the festive season, so take this opportunity to get a little nostalgic. Tears are totally fine, as always. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good cry. Especially during the holiday season.
Write them a note.
Write a small note on something that’s happened in your life over the past few months that you wish they were there to experience with you.Recently been promoted? Gotten engaged? Booked a flight to your dream destination? Write about it, and slip your note into their stocking.
Don't hang any stockings.
It's perfectly ok if you choose not to hand any stockings this year. This can be a meaningful way to acknowledge their absence, especially if you don’t feel up to celebrating in the same way you usually do. There are no set rules when it comes to Christmas and grief. Get comfortable with making the rules up as you go, and only do what feels right to you. There’s never any pressure to uphold the exact same traditions year on year, so if you feel like switching things up this year or eliminating certain traditions, go for it.
The holiday season can be tough when you’re missing a deceased loved one, and deciding on how to acknowledge them can feel tricky. Nonetheless, we hope some of these ideas will spark a little creativity and help you remember and celebrate them in ways that work for you.
And, if you’re looking for some of our top tips on coping with grief and secondary loss during the festive season, you can read our guide on it here.