Relationships change, but our bonds with the deceased can continue. When a loved one passes on we are often expected to “move on” after some time and continue living as before. Very few people will tell you that you don’t have to let that person go, or that although the nature of your relationship has changed and will continue to change, you can still keep continuing bonds with your loved one. Fortunately, that is the basic definition of the Continuing Bonds Theory (Klass, 1996). Our loved ones will always live on in our memories and hearts, but there are also creative ways to stay connected to people you’ve lost. If you feel that this concept is something that resonates with you and makes for healthy grieving, then please read our tips on how to stay connected with friends and family that have passed on.
You can choose to find your loved one’s presence in the simplest of things – a bird, the laughter of a stranger, that moment when you see something they loved in the most unexpected places. Sometimes it’s simply the feeling you get that they’re with you in this moment. Don’t hesitate to embrace the moment.
Perhaps you used to cook together; laughing, bantering, and connecting over a good home-cooked meal, or maybe you have good memories of the meals you shared together. Whatever the case, we’re all aware that food brings us closer together. Making that special recipe or eating his favorite food can bring you closer to your loved one.
Keeping something of theirs that they treasured, or that you have an emotional attachment to can bring you comfort and a tangible connection to their life or personality.
It can be as simple as lighting a candle or as involved as a candle light vigil. It can be helpful to plan ahead. Whether you choose to focus on your loved one for the entire day, to grieve alone, or to only acknowledge the date in passing, making a plan can help you cope.
You can create a Facebook group as a memorial to your loved one, where photos, stories, and thoughts can be expressed within a close circle of friends and family that knew him or her. Managing and updating this page can help you strengthen your bond.
Finish their DIY creative project, volunteering work they were passionate about, or something they were fixing at home. This can be a wonderful way to not only continue their legacy, but to also connect with them through their work, and maybe even learn something new about them.
Recognizing that your loved one would be proud of you, and taking the time do so, is an important part of honoring your milestones. You can continue to nurture your connection with them by making them a part of important accomplishments.
Sharing stories, photos, or mementos of your loved one with people who never met them can be a rewarding way to keep their memory alive. It may not be easy to open up, but this can not only help you connect with important new people in your life, but also help keep your loved one in your life even as you move forward.
Writing isn’t only good for letting your emotions flow through your pen and onto paper when you need to find relief during the grieving process (if that is a method that works for you), but it can also be a great way to strengthen your connection with your loved one. Write your letters by hand or with a keyboard, daily or yearly, on holidays or anytime you miss them. Letters are still a beautiful way to remain in touch, even with those who aren’t with us physically.
Thoughts and memories of our loved ones on holidays and on special occasions are sure to be present. Including them in some way can provide some comfort and lessen triggers. Displaying their photos, donating money or items in their name, or inviting someone who was important to them to dinner will be easier than avoidance. Try making these plans with the help of family or friends.
Yes, it’s normal for you to talk with your loved one out loud or in your head—ask them for advice on things going on in your life or tell them what’s on your mind, whatever feels best. Talking out loud to them can help you sort out your feelings and make you feel closer to your loved one.
Wearing a special necklace to keep them close to your heart, a ring on your hand, or a bracelet on your wrist or on your handbag can serve as a warm reminder of their continuing presence in your life and the love you still have for them. Although the relationship between you and your loved one has changed, it still very much exists.
What are some of the ways you use to stay connected to your loved ones? Have continuing bonds helped you on your journey? Please let us know in the comments!
Comments will be approved before showing up.