The community that raised us, the rituals and values they instilled in us, and the stories our families passed down have all shaped who we are today. Preserving and celebrating that heritage doesn’t just honor those who have passed; it allows the culture that empowers our lives to continue after cherished family members are gone. Here are some suggestions for how to honor our late loved one’s heritage.
Donate to a Charity Supporting Their Values
Among the most impactful choices we can make is to donate to a charity that contributes to our late loved one’s community, values, or hopes for the world. For example, immigrant defense funds, LGBTQ+ health centers, and civil rights charities are all great options that could honor the deceased. If they donated in the past, carry on their cause by supporting that charity too. Many organizations have built-in options for contributing in honor of a loved one.
Place Cultural Symbols Within Their Memorials
People across the world decorate and adorn graves, urns, and photographs in many ways. Consider placing culturally relevant decorations alongside your personal keepsakes and other mementos. For example, Hawaiian families use lei to honor loved ones at the funeral and on gravestones. Placing candles near photos and burning them during prayers is a common practice across multiple religions.
Keep Their Style Alive
Clothes have a cultural relevance that is far more profound than we often realize in the day to day practice of getting dressed. Wearing the deceased’s jewelry, hats, and jackets are all small ways to keep your loved one’s memory alive. Emulating their style and acknowledging the deep cultural history that created it is a wonderful way to honor who they were. Just be sure that the rest of your shared family doesn’t mind if you choose to wear the items your loved one personally owned!
How your family chooses to honor your late loved one’s heritage is an intimate matter that can be done in many different ways. The decision to focus on their identity and history demonstrates a deep love for your relationship with them. Further, it celebrates what made them and their larger community unique during their lifetime.