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Meaningful Ways to Remember Loved Ones on Graduation Day

In 2014, I shared on Facebook how my parents would have been so proud of my son when he graduated from 8th grade and was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. In the photo I posted back then, he’s shaking hands with the principal and assistant principal of his middle school.

Fast forward nearly four years and Jake will be graduating high school in just a few weeks. My parents would have been overjoyed now, too. Perhaps even more so.

While I wish my mom and dad could be part of this special occasion, I recognize there are opportunities for seamlessly incorporating their memory into our special day.

Consider the below ideas for your upcoming celebrations.

Meaningful Opportunities for Remembering Loved Ones on Graduation Day

  • Consider engraving a new or existing piece of jewelry with their loved one’s handwriting. Simply take a note or letter with their loved one’s signature and bring it to a jeweler. Jewelers can etch names and shapes (smiley faces and hearts they may have drawn) into virtually anything — charms, cuff links, and bracelets. I discuss this idea and other great strategies in my book, Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive.

  • Create a quilt or blanket for a college bed. Use their loved one’s t-shirts, jeans, or sweaters to make a one-of-a-kind throw. If you aren’t handy with a needle and thread, get help from a local tailor or campusquilt.com.

  • Design a meaningful pocket token. Feature one of their loved one’s favorite quotes or sayings, a small yet powerful gift. The one here reminds me of my dad. He always believed in me and told me, “You can do anything.”

  • Eat their loved one’s favorite food (especially if it’s chocolate cake!). Enjoying what they loved will create a sweet graduation celebration memory. Read more ideas about how to incorporate food as part of remembering loved ones here.

The bottom line for remembering loved ones on Graduation Day is this:

Recognize that absence and presence can coexist. As I shared during a Google Talk not too long ago, taking intentional steps to remember loved ones is key to healing. By proactively embracing the memory of loved ones on special occasions, we increase our capacity for joy during times we often miss our loved ones most.