Some say a death anniversary is an awkward holiday because it feels odd to celebrate a life that is gone while feeling a twinge of pain. But it is very important to commemorate your loved one’s death anniversary even if you’re still on the road to healing. You cannot ignore this event or pretend to forget that your loved one died since it’s not healthy for your mental and emotional health.
Whether the funeral happened a year ago or the cremation services happened five years past, you should still honor your deceased loved one’s memory as the years go by. It is healthy to acknowledge that the empty space in your heart and life will always be there. Recognizing the loss is a critical part of healing and moving on. In time, your grief will take on many forms, and celebrating the death anniversary becomes a tad easier. Here are some ways you can honor your loved one’s life on the anniversary of their death.
Make a Visit to Their Place of Rest
Traditionally, people commemorate the death anniversary of a loved one by making a visit to the cemetery with their headstone or heading off to the columbarium where the cremated remains are stored in a niche. If you scattered the ashes in the sea or park, you can head off to the area too and ruminate on a beach bench or public park. Taking time to visit the quiet solitude where your deceased loved one is laid to rest allows you to contemplate, reflect and pray. Bring flowers, light a candle, and spend some quality time there. You can talk to the deceased and play music as these activities soothe a fragile heart.
Host a Remembrance Ceremony
If it’s a milestone anniversary like one, five, or ten years, you can host a special anniversary ceremony. Some cultures even host a ceremony annually to remember the dead. They do a mass and conduct a reception. They invite family and friends as a way to keep the deceased’s memory alive. In this special ceremony, you can do activities that are done in a traditional memorial service, but on a smaller scale. You can do any of the following:
- Ask someone to give a remembrance speech
- Play funeral songs
- Read scriptures and prayers
- Share funeral poems
- Show a slide presentation
- Have a moment of silence in honor of the deceased
- Take a look at old photo albums
- Toast to a loved one
Put Your Thoughts to Paper
Buy a special journal to be used for celebrating the death anniversary of your loved one. Keep it solely for this purpose. Every time the death anniversary rolls in, you can write in this notebook. The first death anniversary is usually the hardest because the pain is fresh and raw. But it’s helpful to have this journal because you can unleash your pent-up emotions and thoughts without judgment. You can write whatever you want in this notebook from memories to quotes. Think of this notebook as a safe space. Over the years, you can read your entries to see where you are in your grief process.
Go Down Memory Lane
A death anniversary is an excellent time to go down memory lane. If you have a keepsake box, open it and take a look at the trinkets you collected inside. You can also look at old photo albums or even go through old posts and photos on social media. You can also start a memory jar or scrapbook. On future anniversaries, you can take a look at them and see how far you’ve come.
Play Favorite Songs of the Deceased
Music is very powerful, that’s why some call it a universal language. It transcends language barriers and could also ease your longing for the deceased. Playing your loved one’s favorite playlist is a great way to celebrate their death anniversary. Listen to the playlist with a glass of wine and wind candles to make the ambiance relaxing. Let the music wash over you and reminisce about the good times. Even if your departed loved one is no longer physically present, you will realize you have a treasure trove of memories. Doing this activity will help you realize that the deceased lives on in your heart forever, and it will offer a measure of comfort.
Express Thoughts Through Artworks
To celebrate the death anniversary of a loved one, you can make your own artwork. Art can be anything from paintings, sketches, collages, sculptures, digital works, and the like. Even writers can compose an essay or make a unique poem. There’s something cathartic about making art or other creative outputs as a way to remember your loved one on their death anniversary. This is a positive way to channel your grief, which can help you on your path to healing.
Volunteer or Donate to a Cause
If you want to honor your deceased loved one, you can donate money or goods to a cause. Many non-profit organizations need assistance like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, veteran’s associations, cancer networks, domestic abuse victim shelters, and more. Serving other people who are in need in honor of your loved one’s memory is a meaningful tribute. Alternatively, you can also donate money to a non-profit organization in honor of your loved one.
Even if it’s been a year or several years, the earth anniversary will feel like a tough day. When you close your eyes, you may feel as if the death happened just a day or two ago. Although the grief may feel a bit more subdued, longing for a lost loved one naturally lingers. That’s because your love doesn’t end just because they’re no longer physically present on this earth. So take your time and remember your loved one’s death anniversary. No matter what you do, it will make you feel happy and make them feel at peace on the other side.