Four Ways to Honor Someone’s Memory and Keep Their Legacy Alive

Over Christmas I was reminded how much pancakes and Christmas trees remind me of my dad. He made sure that in our house, holiday traditions started the second Thanksgiving ended. After he died, my mom and I continued to go to the same Christmas tree lot followed by the same nearby diner every year. Going to these familiar places made us feel closer to him. Keeping the traditions he loved alive was also our way of honoring his legacy.

The word honor holds a profound weight that can sometimes feel unattainable, especially in a world where grand gestures are marked by media coverage and trending hashtags. Through my personal experience with loss and the learnings from my work at Lantern–a digital tool that helps people navigate end-of-life and death–I’ve seen a wide array of helpful ways that people honor someone they love after death; here are four of them:

1. Tell their stories. Recalling your favorite stories–the ones that really showcase who they were–and sharing them out loud can be a great way to honor someone. It means that those memories live on within you and also in the hearts and minds of those you share them with. I’ve made a habit of writing down my own stories in a notebook on anniversaries and birthdays as a way of sharing my life with my dad in return.

2. Do something they loved. My mom and I maintain certain traditions (like the pancakes mentioned above) that my dad and grandmother loved. For my grandmother we make Campari and soda. It was her favorite cocktail when she was feeling fancy or missing Italy. The taste brings me back to her house where we spent many dinners and holidays together. Connecting with your person can mean a trip to a special spot, or simply enjoying their favorite food or book.

3. Spend your time wisely. At the end of my first week volunteering at Experience Camps, I stood on the camp dock and thought “this is it.” My “spending time wisely” lived on this little lake buzzing from a marshmallow sugar high, team chants after an intense college-league match, and a quick high-five between a nine-year-old and the high school senior he just became brothers with. Finding passion, living a fulfilled life, and making the world a bit better can be the greatest way to honor someone. Find something that you can’t help but talk about because it gets your fired up.

4. Fundraise. Speaking from someone who’s always had a tight budget, making large donations is something I dream of but can’t quite do yet. Luckily, Experience Camps makes it easy to rally your community around a cause. You can set up a Memorial Fund or some other type of fundraising page in honor of your person. Every year, I fundraise around the anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s an opportunity to raise money for a cause he would’ve loved, while also sharing his stories and photos with friends and family.

The act of honoring someone you love is deeply personal; it can’t be prescribed by a list on the internet. That said, I believe that if we can strive to do good, build a community of support for others, and feel like each day was a day well spent, we’re doing it right.

Looking for more ways to honor someone’s memory?

After graduating with a BBA from Parsons the New School for Design, Liz Eddy ran Special Projects for, one of the largest global orgs for teens and social change. Then, she joined the founding team of Crisis Text Line as the Director of Communications. She oversaw brand, PR, marketing, strategic partnerships and business development— growing the org to 12,000 volunteers, 76 million messages, in 3 countries. She left Crisis Text Line in 2018 to launch Lantern, a venture backed Public Benefit Corporation on a mission to change the way we talk about and manage end of life and death.