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

Now, my son Jake will soon be a college graduate! 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 the graduate. 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.

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, 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.