Parenting when you've lost a parent yourself is one of life's most difficult journeys. Prince Harry opened up about this very real part of his life as a father in his new docuseries with Oprah and AppleTV, "The Me You Can't See." He explained that some of Archie's first words stirred up bittersweet feelings because one of them was "grandma"—meaning Harry's mom, Princess Diana.
Harry says a photo of his late mother is currently hanging in Archie's nursery at home, so he knows his grandma is still a part of his life even if she's not here physically. And Archie definitely knows who she is.
"I got a photo of her in his nursery, and it was one of the first words that he said — apart from 'mama,' 'papa,' it was then 'grandma.' Grandma Diana," he shared. "It's the sweetest thing, but at the same time, it makes me really sad because she should be here."
Keeping a framed photo of your lost loved one in a prominent room in your home is a simple, sweet way to make sure everyone in your house can see them. For children that may be missing a grandparent, aunt, uncle or another loved one also provides a talking point for them to ask questions about the person, their life, and to just think about them regularly.
Though there is no shortage of photos of Princess Diana available, for Archie to have a personal photo hand-picked by his dad displayed in his room is an intimate reminder that she was his grandmother, she would have loved him fiercely, and it provides a regular reminder that she's part of their family.
If you're grieving the loss of someone in your family, especially a parent or grandparent, here are some lovely ways to keep their memory alive through memorial gift ideas—for yourself or for someone you know.
Find something handwritten
Whether it's an old birthday card, a quick note, recipe or maybe a letter they wrote, finding something with your loved one's handwriting could make a wonderful memorial gift. You could have the card or letter matted and framed to display in your home. Many people get memorial tattoos featuring the person's handwriting, too. It's a personal, intimate way to honor someone—their handwriting is theirs and theirs alone, and no one else has it.
Make a scrapbook together
This could be a meaningful family project to do together! In this digital age, it's becoming rare to have something tangible to hold onto when it comes to memories. Look through old photos, mementos and letters and create a scrapbook of your loved one's life. That way whenever you're telling a story about them or sharing a memory, you have something to pull out and look through with your children that shows a full life well-lived.
Do things they loved to do
Maybe grandpa loved fishing and jigsaw puzzles, or grandma was president of her book club. Maybe they loved cooking certain dishes or gardening together. Doing family activities that your lost loved one truly enjoyed is a great way to keep their memory alive, and to honor the things they loved to do while they were here. Who knows–maybe these activities will spark new family traditions for years to come.
Celebrate their birthdays
What better way to truly celebrate someone's life than to continue to celebrate them on the day they were born? Every year on their birthday, you could go to their favorite restaurant, make a family donation to a cause that was important to them or come up with an annual family activity that makes sense for your family. Some families do this on the anniversaries of their loved one's death, too.
Memorialize them through gifts
Creating jewelry out of a loved one's photos, clothes or even their ashes is becoming an increasingly popular way to memorialize those we loved and lost. You can make a quilt out of their old shirts or blankets or you can place their photos inside a locket. There are also a variety of creators who specialize in memorial gift ideas on Etsy, if you're looking for inspiration for you and your children.
Like Prince Harry has graciously shared with us, there is no limit to the ways a lost grandparent or loved one can live on in the lives of the family they left behind. Especially for our children, who deserve to know everything about the person that made their lives on earth so special.