What To Do on the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death
Almost anyone who has experienced loss will tell you that holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries tend to be some of the hardest moments to get through. While everyone else is out celebrating and enjoying themselves, you are mired in memories and the painful reminder of your loved one’s passing. In fact, if your loss was recent, these days have a tendency to feel incredibly burdensome at a time when they should be anything but.
Another day that can cause quite a bit of hurt is the anniversary of your loved one’s death. Some people lovingly call these days deathiversaries. Others cannot bring themselves to associate the word anniversary—which is usually a positive day—with such a painful loss. Whatever you choose to call it, this is a day that hits many people hard, whether it has been one year or one decade since the passing.
Although nothing can erase the pain of holidays and death anniversaries, you can take steps to take care of yourself and to honor your loved one’s memory. Reach out to family members and friends who may be sharing your sense of loss, and consider the following options:
- Visit the gravesite or memorial site with flowers.
- Use this day to scatter some (or all) of the ashes in a favorite location.
- Go through old photo albums, Facebook feeds, and/or home videos.
- Make a donation of money or of the deceased’s household goods/clothing.
- Volunteer with a charity whose views align with those of your loved one.
- Plan a memorial service or gathering for friends.
- Spend a day doing all the things your loved one enjoyed doing.
- Cook a favorite meal that reminds you of your loved one or invite others to come over and share in a potluck.
- Take a trip to a place that was meaningful for you and your loved one.
- Take a trip to a place you always talked about going together but never did.
- Plan a spa day for yourself.
- Plant a tree or garden in your loved one’s memory.
- Join a bereavement group.
- Listen to music that reminds you of your loved one or brings you solace.
- Read a book on bereavement or grief.
- Write a letter to your loved one, sharing all that’s happened during the year and how much you miss them.
- Hold a candlelight memorial, balloon release, or other ceremony.
- Find an online support group.
Above all else, try not to spend the day alone. You might be surprised how many people are thinking about you and your loss, and how many of them would like to participate in your grieving process. Sometimes, even heading out to a familiar coffee shop and sharing your loss with a stranger can help you feel more connected.