If you’ve lost a loved one, bearing witness can help with the grieving process. Bearing witness is a term that describes sharing a story or experience in a way that honors the deceased person’s life. It’s a way to gain support from the community and share empathy. Bearing witness can be an extremely effective way to help yourself grieve and move on in a healthy manner.
In many societies, family and friends do this during funeral services held in a house of worship. However, even if you have a funeral for your loved one, sometimes that is not enough. You may find yourself wanting to do a little more to honor their memory and share their story.
Write it Out
If you prefer to express yourself verbally, bearing witness through writing can be incredibly cathartic. You can write their life story or selected memories from your time spent together. Or if poetry is you preferred medium, compose a sonnet or freeform that honors their memory. Just writing it out can help you with your grieving process, you don’t necessarily have to share it with anyone. However, if you do want to share it, having others read it helps ensure your loved one’s story lives on in hearts and minds.
Adopt a Rescue Animal
Grief is often accompanied by feelings of depression and anxiety. If your deceased friend or family member was an animal lover, adopting a pet from a shelter can be a way that honors them while also helping you cope with difficult feelings. Rescuing a furry friend saves a life while honoring the one that is not around anymore. Rover.com explain that dogs, in particular, can be very therapeutic. They provide unconditional love and support while also encouraging you to be active when you’d otherwise want to stay in bed or on the couch.
Plant a Memorial Tree
Memorial trees are very popular means for bearing witness. They are a living tribute that withstand time and give back to the earth. A great idea is choosing a memorial tree that reflects their background or personality. For instance, a Japanese red maple is striking and bold to reflect an eclectic persona. Or you can choose a tree that is from the same region as them: a live oak for someone from Texas or a maple tree if they are from Canada.
Set Up a Scholarship
A scholarship is another great way to give back to a community while honoring your loved one’s memory. This is an especially perfect idea if they came from a marginalized group or were particularly focused on education. An easy way to get the scholarship fund started is by asking people to donate to it in lieu of flowers at their memorial. Other fundraising ideas include creating a committee, staging a fun run, or setting up a bake sale.
A Memorial Bench or Brick
If they were active citizens in their community, what better way to honor them than setting up a memorial bench or brick that bears their name. Most of the time, you can purchase these things through the city’s parks department. The proceeds typically go back to conservation efforts or another initiative that gives back. An added bonus is you can visit the memorial any time you miss them and they will be there.
Losing someone you are close with is difficult, but you can make the grieving process easier by bearing witness to their life. While many people do this at funerals or other memorial services, there are more creative ways to do it as well. Some people find it helpful to write their story or express their feelings through poetry. Adopting a rescue dog honors animal lovers while also helping you deal with anxiety and depression. Memorial trees are popular because they give back to the earth. A scholarship is another way to give back to the community while keeping their name alive. Finally, honor the civic minded person by setting up a memorial bench or brick in a public park in the city they loved.
Article written by Lucille Rosetti, Author of “Life After Death: A Wellness Guide for the Bereaved” which you can purchase in spring of 2018 here: http://thebereaved.org/book/