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Celebrating Your Loved One in Heaven

Photo of Joanne KraftJoanne Kraft | Bio

Joanne Kraft

Joanne Kraft is a nonfiction author and national speaker. Her passion is for women to catch the Titus 2 vision of discipleship. Author of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids and Just too Busy — Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical, she’s a frequent guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Her newest venture is her podcast Grace & Truth Living, helping women to trust and follow Jesus in their everyday life. Joanne and her husband, Paul, once lifelong Californians, moved their family to Tennessee in 2012. They’ve happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Check out for more from Joanne.
Mom went to Heaven on April 27, 2001.
Her name was Mary Lou.
It’s not a very common name.

I didn’t realize the things I’d miss when mom passed, like hearing someone say her name.

I felt betrayed by the calendar when mom died. Days kept coming. Life kept moving.

How could the earth keep spinning when my world had stopped?

Yet, it did.

Life goes on when someone you love dies. The sun still comes up each morning and months and years come and go, whether you’re hurting or not.

That first year was especially hard – so many “firsts” to go through. I didn’t want my mom to be forgotten. That’s why special days of the year were hard for me, especially her birthday.

How do you celebrate someone in Heaven on their birthday?

Lots of people tried to comfort me with their constant reminders about Heaven. And, yes, their kind attempts did mean a lot to me, but their lives kept spinning and mine was shattered.

I tried to do things that first year that honored my mom’s memory. Even though she had a new heavenly address, I wanted her life to be honored here. So, her first birthday that rolled around, I decided to do something for someone else in her place.

Since I couldn’t do something for her here, I decided to do something for someone else.

I gathered my four children loaded them in the car and went to purchase a huge bouquet of flowers. Then, I drove to the nearest assisted living facility and walked up to the front counter with my kids in tow. I’d never been to this place, so I wasn’t sure of their policies.

Our little group gathered around the desk as I explained my mission.

“We’re here to deliver flowers to someone special.” I smiled.

“What is the person’s name?” the woman smiled back.

“I don’t know. I was hoping you’d give these to a person here who doesn’t get visitors. Do you have someone living here who needs to know they’re loved today?”

The woman looked at me quizzically, apparently not the one to make decisions, she said, “Can you wait just a minute? I’ll call my manager. “

My kids buzzed around me, as I stood there second-guessing our little field trip, Maybe I should’ve done something else for mom today?

After a few minutes, a woman strode down the hall towards us. She smiled and explained that she’d love to bring flowers to someone here today.

I shared, “It’s actually my mom’s birthday today and we wanted to do something in her place, something I know she’d love. Kind of a way for us to turn our missing her into a good thing for someone else.”

She listened and smiled. “I can definitely help you do that.”

“Oh, I almost forgot, my name is Joanne.” I reached out my hand to shake hers.

“My name is Mary Lou.” She smiled back.

Confirmation to me that we were exactly where we needed to be.

10 Ways to Honor a Loved One in Heaven

Are you struggling with the loss of someone you love? Here are some ways to honor their memory on special days and/or just any day:

  1. Messages to Heaven: Write letters and attach them to helium balloons. Go to a special place and let them go. Watch your words make their way to Heaven.
  2. Make a Meal: Make their favorite dinner and cake on their birthday. Or, eat out at their favorite restaurant. Celebrate their birthday with your closest family and share one thing you love most about them, then take turns each year blowing out their birthday candles.
  3. Watch a Movie: What was their favorite movie? Make their birthday the day you watch it together. Don’t forget to make popcorn!
  4. Memory Box: Create a memory box. Decorate with stickers, paint or images that remind you of your loved one. Put your favorite things from that person inside, photos, a handwritten note, a pen they always used, that sort of thing. Open on days you need to feel their love.
  5. Music: Create a playlist of their favorite songs, or songs that remind you of him/her. Play on special days. Those songs that once brought tears, now after many years, bring much joy when I blast it for my kids and we sing along.
  6. Memory Jar: Decorate your very own memory jar. Write notes filled with funny sayings they said, stories, ways they loved you well. Tuck a memory inside your jar each time one comes to mind.
  7. Ornaments: Don’t know what to do with your loved one’s clothes? Make a memory ornament.  Cut one of their favorite shirts into strips and put them inside a clear ornament. Hang on the tree. Scan a note with their handwriting and place it as a tag on the outside.
  8. Tickets: Did they have a favorite baseball or football team? Purchase a ticket and watch a game in their place. Being close to the things your loved one favored can make that person feel closer.
  9. Love Someone: Drop off an anonymous gift, note, homemade cookies or bouquet to someone on your loved one’s birthday, anniversary, or holiday. Pain is a constant companion when you’re grieving. It’s how love expresses itself when you lose someone. But, giving away some of the love you have inside of you can ease that pain.

Loving someone in Heaven is a forever thing. Love never dies. Instead of nursing your pain today, spend a little of that love on someone else–just for them this year.

(From Joanna Kraft’s blog on equipping mom’s to raise great kids at Used with permission. You can also find her resources on discipleship for women at