Conversations in Grief Blog: Hands-on Ways to Grieve at the Holidays

Hands-on Ways to Grieve at the Holidays

November 29, 2023 / 5 mins read

By Laura Wessels

Sometimes it is good to have busy hands when you are grieving. Children are often encouraged to paint or colour how they are feeling as they grieve. Expressing grief in other ways than words is good for any griever, no matter your age.


With that in mind, we offer a list of ways to express your grief and honor your person during the holiday season.

  1. Make a memorial candle wreath to accompany the following words that represent how you remember your loved one. This can be a simple wreath of greens and four candles. Check Pinterest or other crafting websites for Advent Wreath Do-It-Yourself ideas. The memorial wreath is like an advent wreath, except it has four candles instead of five candles. This wreath can be lit every day of the holiday season or during gatherings with family and friends to honor your loved one

As we light these four candles in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, and one for our love. This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you. This candle represents our courage – to confront our sorrow – to comfort each other – to change our lives. This candle represents your memory – the times we laughed, the times we cried – the times we were angry with each other – the silly things you did, the caring and joy you gave us. This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season day by day, we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us. We love you.

1) Create a small memorial Christmas tree. One woman bought a tabletop tree, in addition to her Christmas tree, and hung pictures of loved ones who had died as well as cardinals on her memorial tree. She kept the tree on display through February and added hearts in honor of Valentine’s Day. Another woman found a branch and planted it in a container of rocks and hung ornaments and mementos that represented her husband, including sports cars, a rabbit’s foot, and her favourite sports team ornaments.

2) Make memorial ornaments with your loved one’s clothes. Supplies needed include clear plastic or glass ornaments, shirts from your loved one, and scissors. Cut shirts into strips and place them inside the ornament, alternating patterns and colours. This idea is from the average but inspired website. Go to for details.

3) Sustain My Craft Habit ( also has Christmas keepsake ornament ideas using your loved ones’ clothing. Check their website for details at Making Keepsake Ornaments with Clothing – Sustain My Craft Habit

4) Make Pinwheel Christmas tree ornaments as an expression of how your life can take you in many different directions. Find directions here: How to Make Homemade Pinwheel Christmas Tree Ornaments - DIY Project - YouTube

5) Volunteer or donate gifts in honor of your loved one. Many organizations can provide ways for you to purchase gifts and provide food baskets for families. Contact your church or chamber of commerce for ideas for supporting a family. In southern Wisconsin, Christmas Neighbors of Jefferson County serves hundreds of families. Contact them at or (920) 674-4499.

When our hearts are so heavy, it may help to keep our hands busy as we honor, remember, and celebrate our loved ones. If you decide to use an idea shared here or come up with your own idea, we would love to see your creativity. Please email your pictures to