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Christmas is a time for fun and celebrations but the festive season can be difficult when you’ve lost someone close to you.
Keeping a loved one’s memory alive by including them in your celebrations is often an essential and meaningful part of Christmas.
To support other members and to help our colleagues at Co-op Funeralcare provide more assistance to bereaved families at this time of year, we asked Co-op Members to join in and tell us how they remember a loved one at Christmas.
Almost 1,000 members got involved to share their stories. Here are our top 10
1. Light a candle
As well as raising a glass in their honour, almost half of members said they light a candle at home or at a memorial service.
We keep a candle lit throughout the Christmas period, visit Mass and light candles in church, visit their grave and leave a Christmas wreath and another candle.Angela Bullard, Cardiff
2. Carry on a family tradition
From opening presents at a certain time to playing their favourite game, music or films, around 30% of members said they carry on a festive tradition in memory of a loved one.
My grandad used to hide gold chocolate coins around the house for me and my brother to find on Christmas morning. After his death, I continued this tradition with my children and now my grandchildren.Linda Friday, Liverpool
3. Visit a special place
More than a third of members told us they like to visit a loved ones’ grave or resting place at Christmas, with 10% saying they visit their favourite place.
Visiting the graveyard with some lovely festive flowers is always comforting. I always talk to them as though they are still alive because they are really, in my memories and in my heart.Debbie Singh, London
My dad lived in Devon and loved walking the coastal path. His ashes were scattered along this path and each year the whole family walk the path and make a stop at his special place. We take a special tribute. Last year we painted smile stones.Corinne Taylor, Walsall
4. Solace in nature
While the majority of members like to remember a loved one with their family, around a third said they prefer to reflect on their own by taking mindfulness walks and enjoying nature.
My husband loved robins and used to quote ‘when robins appear, lost loved ones are near’. Since losing him in 2004, I’ve made a point of feeding robins in my cottage garden. As I watch them feed, I smile because I feel my David is there with me.Merrill Broom, Aberdeenshire
5. Talk about old times
Members like to reminisce with their families by watching videos and looking at photos of happier times spent together.
We look at photos of previous Christmases to laugh and cry and remember stories. We also tell jokes about the silly things they used to say over Christmas dinner.Holly Rampling, Barnstaple
6. Decorative memories
To ensure a loved ones’ memory isn’t forgotten, members like to make and display keepsake decorations.
I make memory Christmas star baubles with their names on. We hang them on the tree every year.James Smith, Portland
7. Food favourites
As well as setting a place for them at the festive dinner table, members like to serve up a loved ones’ favourite meal or bake their favourite treats.
I have a cold turkey sandwich with ketchup at tea time on Christmas Day. It was my nan’s favourite.Mac Wakelam, Warrington
I make mince pies as my stepdad did every Christmas. We always had a competition to see who’s were the best.Nia Bailey, Harlech
8. Acts of kindness
As it’s the season of goodwill, members remember a loved one by bringing people together and donating to local causes.
In 2019, I invited my neighbours to a charity event with carols, mulled wine and mince pies in my garden to raise money for St Christopher’s hospice in memory of my mum.Julie Gallagher, Bromley
9. Festive dress
Wearing a loved ones’ apron while cooking Christmas dinner or donning their jewellery or wearing accessories with hidden meaning offers members some comfort.
As a family we all tie a bit of tinsel on our coats and go for a walk. We know the tinsel represents our departed loved ones but everyone else thinks we are being ‘Christmassy’.Clare Morari, Perthshire
10. Gifts under the tree
Some members continue to send a Christmas card in the post to a loved one or place a present under the tree.
As a remembrance to my husband, I always put a gift of his favourite cigars and some festive cookies under the tree. The cigars go to whoever likes a cigar for Christmas and family eat the cookies.Susan Weston, Carmarthen
We’d like to thank members for sharing with us so many positive and inspiring ways that they remember a loved one at Christmas.
Due to the pandemic, we know this festive season is likely to be even more difficult for bereaved families this year, so we want to offer them as much support as possible.
With this is mind, we are hosting a special online memorial service on Saturday 5 December at 3pm. Join us and our guest speakers to reflect and remember loved ones through candle lighting and a special performance from our Co-op choir. You can also share a photo and message in tribute to your loved ones, if you wish. Find out more and sign up here.
There are always ways for Co-op Members to get involved in their Co-op. Head to your online membership account to find out what opportunities are available now.