Dealing with the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death: 30 Ideas

The anniversary of my mother’s death was this past week, October 23rd to be exact.  As soon as the fall weather hit I could feel it approaching.  I will forever associate the colorful leaves, cool breeze and crisp air of Autumn with the helplessness I felt 7 years ago knowing my mother could slip from life at any moment.

This year, as with past years, I spent time thinking about how I would cope with the day, I even started a blog post about it.  But then guess what happened?  The day came and went and I totally forgot about it.  On the morning of October 24th I stepped out of my house and as soon as the smell of fall hit me I thought, holy crap, is it the day? When I looked at the date and realized it was actually the day after, I was shocked. How did this happen???  Again!

Again?  Yep…again. Ladies and gentleman I submit to you an entry from my now defunct photoblog posted on October 26th, 2012…

anniversary of loved ones death

 

So, apparently this is how I dysfunctionally deal with my mom’s deathiversary.  Boo…I don’t like it.  For me, forgetting feels a lot worse than remembering the pain;  which is why I’m writing this post today – to implore you not to be like me.

Litsa and I have written many blog posts about dealing with grief on special days.  We helped you reframe Valentines Day,  we offered you 8 New Year’s resolutions for grieverswe suggested a fun family activity for remembering loved ones on Easterwe came up with a list of ways to remember your loved one during the holiday season, we challenged you to search for joy on Mother’s Dayand Litsa laid out a rock star tutorial on Father’s Day sulking.

Clearly we advocate for finding constructive ways to acknowledge and cope with tough days; although I will totally support you in ignoring them if you so choose. But we highly recommend on days like the anniversary of a death that you first consider finding ways to honor and remember.

You (and others close to the loss) can decide how. There is no right or wrong way. Some will want to fully feel the sadness and emotion of the day (what I like to call ‘wallowing with a purpose’), some will want to stay positive, some will want to do a quick and casual acknowledgement, and some will want to spend the entire day focused on the deceased. Whatever you do we recommend you think ahead, anticipate the hard parts, and make a plan.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ways to honor and remember your loved one on the anniversary of their death. You may also be interested in our (free) mini eCourse, Managing Grief on Holidays and Special Days.

1.  Take flowers to the grave site, memorial site, or other place where you go to remember your loved one.

2. Look at old photos and home videos.  Do this alone and have a good cry or reminisce over photo albums with family and friends.

3.  Turn digital photos into a photo album on Shutterfly or Snapfish.

4.  Donate a few of your loved ones old belongings to a shelter or other charity.  If you don’t want to give away any of their things, just make a charitable donation in their name.

5.  Volunteer with a charity or cause close to your loved ones heart.

6.  Plan a memorial service or candle light vigil.

7.  Reach out to someone else grieving the loss via letter, card, phone call, or e-mail.

8.  Host a dinner party and invite those who knew your loved ones best.

9.  Cook your loved ones favorite dish, use one of their recipies to prepare a meal, or host a pot luck and ask people to bring a dish your loved one liked.

10.  Light a candle in honor of your loved one.

11.  Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one.

12.  Take the trip you had been planning or dreaming about.

13.  Read old notes, letters, or e-mails from your loved one.

14.  Treat yourself to a massage.

15.  Distract yourself by getting together with friends, going to the movies, or taking a short trip.

16.  Watch your loved one’s favorite movie.

17.  Make a mix CD of music that reminds you of your loved one.

18.  Create a new ritual to celebrate the life of your loved one.  Choose a ritual that can be repeated in the years to come.

19.  Do something your loved one would have enjoyed.

20.  Build a memorial with portraits, personal items, and objects that remind you of your loved one.

21.  Spend time journaling about your loved one.

22.  Make a toast or say a prayer or blessing in their honor.

23.  Plant a tree in your loved one’s name.

24.  Establish a scholarship in their name.

25. Celebrate the strengths you have developed as a result of your loved one’s death.

26.  Search for joy and feel gratitude.

27. Make a keepsake box of things that remind you of your loved one.

28.  Finish a project your loved one was working on.

29.  Continue to work towards a cause your loved one was involved with.

30.  Tell a story about your loved one to a stranger.

We love when grievers help other grievers.  Comment below and share with us how you dealt or will be dealing with the anniversary of a loved one’s death.  What did you find helpful?  How did you honor and remember them?

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again, you really ought to subscribe to receive posts straight to your e-mail in-box.  

May 3, 2017

212 responses on "Dealing with the Anniversary of a Loved One's Death: 30 Ideas"

  1. been thru it a few timesSeptember 8, 2017 at 11:37 amReply

    I was widowed at age 34, left with two young kids. Have lost parents and only sibling since then. Have lost many friends and coworkers. RATHER than weep and ‘celebrate’ the anniversary of DEATH and relive that familiar pain, for me, it was most helpful to get a grip on ‘death being a part of Life’ and focus on what’s here on earth which is ALIVE speto love and enjoy. Living is what we HAVE. We have God-given gifts to share with others…time spent in pity past a couple of years is time for professional grief counseling. No one enjoys being depressed. Granted, a tragic death is one harder to deal with than expected (elderly parent) but a loss is a loss. THINKING OF OTHERS’ needs is far more rewarding and productive! I know my first loved one’s advice would be ‘Hey, have a good life and enjoy!’ and he would not be ‘honored’ by yearly death anniversary parties. just sayin’ that was him.

  2. My boyfriend of 5 years died on June 24, 2017 which also happened to be his birthday in a car crash. He was 25years old. We live in Jamaica which isn’t a large country. However we live on opposite sides of the country because of work. That Saturday morning I didn’t get a text from him a Ying how much he loved me and I didn’t send one because I was in a hurry for work. At about 9am the security officer called me and when I went outside there was Omar with a single white rose in his hands and a big grin on his face. They drove 3 hours to come see me. On their way back home his friend crashed. I was so excited to see him that I forgot to remind him as usual to wear his seat belt.
    October 15th would’ve been our anniversary. I still cry everyday. Still unable to cope. There was no one on the earth like him. We had plans to get married and start a family. All I can do that help me cope is looking back at photos and reminiscing on our memories. And watching videos we made. I miss him dearly. He was my best friend, comforter, doctor, my everything.

  3. I lost my Grandma on 11th September in 2016 by cancer when they found the cancer it was to late to treat her it was already spreading to the rest of her body and making her very ill. As it came to the last stages it was so hard to look after her my grandma wasn’t the same grandma the has raised me the last 8 years. now this September on the 11th is the one year anniversary of her death. Life is not the same without her here by my side and supporting me on every decision i make. Its like there a massive hole in my heart and my heart is broken for ever and ever and is never going to be the same without my Nan by my side to comfort me when i’m down or need someone to talk to. my nan may be gone but she will be NEVER forgotten always her by my side and in my heart for EVER and EVER.

    • Thank you for your suggestions. Tomorrow will be six years since losing my husband. What a journey! I have also lost my mom, dad, and brother. I think by doing something to honor him also helps me forgive myself. The guilt of the should ofs and could ofs seem to wash away, at least for that moment. Now just have to decide what to do this year.

  4. Tomorrow, June 7, 2017, is the one year anniversary of my father’s passing from Alzheimer’s. Today was the day that my mother got the phone call from the nursing home saying that my father had stopped breathing when they were bathing him and they had to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Later that day at the hospital, we had to make the agonizing decision as a family to withhold medications and just keep him comfortable with palliative care until he passed. They weren’t sure how long it would take for him to pass. The next morning, at 10:10 a.m., I got the phone call from the hospital saying my dad had passed. My mother has had a very rough year without him and as a result has lost a lot of weight and went into a depression. I’ve noticed recently that she has turned a corner and gotten a little better. I was thinking of maybe planting something in their backyard that will come back every year. My father loved gardening and had quite the green thumb, but I’m not really looking forward to tomorrow.

  5. Thanks for this post. Your suggestions were awesome. Tomorrow, May 4th, will be the one year “angel-versary” of my husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. We’ve decided to do random acts of service throughout the day to remember him. He loved serving others in small ways. We figured that would be the best way to remember him.

  6. I’m on my way right now to Virginia to have a 21 gun solute for my dads funeral on Friday morning. I lost my father in law two days after thanksgiving 2016 my daughter had our first grandson on April 8th and my dad died the day before his sons 37th birthday. I am so numb…. I HATE THIS FEELING. I WANT HIM BACK.

  7. 10th February marks two years of my sweet wonderful wife,there’s not a single day I didn’t remember her since she died,she died from a swollen neck after only one week she got that swollen neck,and it just killing my soul. my life is a struggle without her,writing this makes me cry now,and I’m gonna celebrate her death to the fullest. . thanks for your blog ,it’s helpful.

  8. Life keeps going on and I thought after my only child died in sleep,that it should all stop.
    I can feel your pain, after I read the bottom of your page.
    Your faith in God and his son Jesus is very important. They will help with you’re pain.
    If your brother was suppose to be here, God would see to that.
    Living your life with a broken heart is something that only you know the pain. But God knows. And if you ask him in Jesus name,he can help you carry on and when time on earth is over, you get to see him again.
    Keep the faith.

  9. There is a ” Go fund me ” online that you can do pictures and tell your story. Ask some of your dearest friends to help you in doing a yard sale in your son’s name. They may have others that might want to give them things to sell also.
    If you would like to contact me, please do so. I lost my only child. He was 20. It has been 3 years ago. I know that pain.

  10. MY 19 YEAR OLD SON DIED IN A FATAL MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT ON MARCH 1, 2016. NEXT MONTH WILL BE THE FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY SON MARTINS PASSING. I CAME ACROSS THIS WEBSITE I READ SOME OF YOUR IDEAS BUT WAS WONDERING IF YOU OR ANYONE WHO READS MY POST CAN GIVE ME IDEAS ON WHAT KIND OF FUNDRAISERS I CAN HAVE TO RAISE MONEY TO PAY FOR MY SONS MARKER. I HAD JUST GOT HIRED AND STARTED WORKING FOR A RETAIL STORE IN FEBRUARY 2016 THEN A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY SON PASSED AWAY AND I HAVE’NT BEEN ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK. THANK YOU

    • Here’s what I would do. Over the years when I’ve had a need that I couldn’t afford, I would trade.
      You could possibly trade working for them part time, making them something crafty for their business or just ask them if you can pay a small amount and get it when it’s paid.

    • My brother passed away in a motorcycle accident too. His 1 year anniversary is in June. You should set up a go fund me account to try and get donations to help you out.

  11. On Monday it will be one month that my mother became an angel. She left us after a three and a half year battle with pancreatic cancer. My mother was such a fighter. I find that my days are getting harder instead of easier. My family and I have tried to do the things she would normally do (Thankgiving). It has been difficult. Her favorite holiday was Christmas so I set up a little tree. Her one month is Monday and I am planning on letting balloons go. Thank you so much for this blog.

  12. December 20th 2016 will be the first anniversary of my mum’s death. Her bday will be on nov 2nd. I miss her so much and feel like i can’t go on. I dread the days ahead. I really don’t know how to prepare for this. This blog has helped me a lot tho. I thank you all for your contibutions

  13. It was 4 years this September since I lost our 23 year old son very suddenly. Finally i felt like celebrating his life on his anniversary with my husband and our 4 children. We planned ahead – I made all his favourite dishes, we watched old home videos, we shared funny stories and made a toast to our son between us. I set up the table and chairs to include him in the celebrations and it really felt like he was there with us ? The day was beautiful however the grief hit me strongly a day after between his anniversary and his birthday 3 weeks later. Seems you can’t avoid those deep despairing feelings of loss. This year I accepted them as just how things will be always knowing September will always be so very emotional for me. That’s ok with me now ? I’m just starting to pick myself up again the last couple of days. That is definitely an improvement on 2015 where the last 6 months of the year were terrible and the two years prior when every day was so very painful. Now I’m ok and I’m getting ready for Christmas- the never ending grief roller coaster ?? if we can survive the loss of a child we can survive anything…. I certainly now know where my priorities lie and now I’m so passionate about helping others who have travelled a similar path. Carrying through my son’s mission (his tattoo read:) pursuit of happiness with diligence which he proudly displayed on his body. Now I’m making his life purpose count. ??

    • Vicki, thanks for sharing this. My son was murdered during a burglary of his home while he slept in bed. He was 27 yrs old and his birthday was 3 weeks later as well. It will be 10 months on 8/1/17. I am having a really rough week this week as it is now one year since I last saw him, saw his smile and got to hug him while he was alive. I know people talk about the year of ” firsts” and I am past most of them but fail to see that the “seconds , thirds and forever mores” will be much easier. Hope they are right. Thanks for listening

  14. ❤️

  15. My name is Jo, and I lost my twin sister 14 years ago. Even though life moves on and so many thanks have changed, I have always struggled with the anniversary of her death. The date looms from about the month before and I usually end up in a flood of tears at some point. After 14 years, I realised I HAD to do something about it. Counselling didn’t work for me. I spoke to my local doctor who suggested trying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I wanted to try that but something that was specific to grief. I found a great book CBT when dealing with grief and it really helped me. Im not saying that it will help everyone, but I have always struggled around the anniversary of her death and our birthday which I celebrate without her now. The book helps you to deal with those really painful memories and strong thoughts that are associated with your loved one’s passing. Hope this helps.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience with CBT. It can definitely be very helpful when it comes to overwhelming and consuming thoughts that are making it hard to function or have a bond with your loved one.

    • Hi Jo,

      I lost my twin 7 years ago and I’m still having a really hard time with the loss. Can you give me the name is that book ?

      Sincerely,

      Kira

      • Hi Kira, thanks for your message. So sorry to hear about your twin. The anniversary is always hard and now you’re 7 years in, you know it does get easier, but the pain is still there. Its 15 years this month for me, and I’ve been a lot better than I used to be. On the anniversary day (15th May), I will still fall into a black hole of grief again reliving the day she past away in my head. The book I used is stored away now in boxes as I am decorating at home, but I will dig it out for you and let you know the details.
        take care
        Jo.

      • Kira,
        The book is called “Overcoming Grief – A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques” by Sue Morris.
        It might not be what you need – but give it a go. It did help me.
        Jo.

  16. This is what I’ll be doing this year too. I’ve only been able to attend one Reading of the Names. It’s so painful listening to them read 2,996 names that I’ve only been able to do it once. I think it’s rude if I go and only listen to the name of my loved one and then leave. I can’t do that, I have to stay the whole 3 hours.

    I wish I could go to sleep on September 10 and wake up September 12. Barring that possibility, I listen to the names reading.

  17. I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing… I love that you have turned your grief into something positive and generous, for others – and are helping them through their own grief… 🙂
    I lost my twin brother to suicide, 9 months ago. It is our 24th birthday coming up on the 31st of august. Although it is not the anniversary of his death – but our birth, I can’t possibly bear to imagine how to get through this day coming up. I am more or less, dreading this day. Every year we have always celebrated together, so I have no idea how I am supposed to celebrate this day – when all I feel is such a terrible, deep sadness and loss of his presence. I have never felt so much pain, lonliness and a loss for words at how to speak of this amazing human. If you have any ideas or tips of what to do on this day coming up – I will welcome them warmly. Reading this post helped me realise I am not alone… But I still feel completely lost at what to do, to prepare for this day.

  18. Hello,

    Well, this is the hardest pain that I have ever felt. My mom pasted on June 29 of 2016- her services was July 8th, 90 days before my wedding. Words can not describe the pain. The motherless club was one that I knew that I would join some day but not this soon and not before my wedding. I had kept my mom clueless about the wedding because I wanted to surprise her and see her face when she saw the venue and decorations. She did have a chance to see my dress and she really liked it. She was so happy for me and I was secretly going to do something special at the wedding- now I can barely think straight. My fiancé is trying his best to be there and do the rest of the planning, We were suppose to send out our wedding invitations the day of my mother service. My sister was planning my bridal shower, all of this seems so pointless and trivial. The pain is beyond compare. I have a voice mail from my mom that I listen to. I must admit that I am angry at God for taking my mom. I always called her my ” my first love”. I feel like the world does not have the same color and that food taste different,. I still wake up thinking ” wow did that really happen”.

    Missing my first love

  19. I need help here i don’t know what to do last year I was pregnant at my 20 weeks of pregnancy my son was born so he’s birthday will be on July 30th but since he was to early he died right after one hour so I have no idea what to do I want to do something for him. He’s my baby angel please any ideas will help thank you

  20. Post your comment…my dad’s 1st anniversary will be this coming Sunday 17th July, I was trying to figure out what I could no but I couldn’t come up with anything thanks for this site…. Terrible year it was….

  21. My son took his own life so his deathiversary is a day we just try to survive. On the other hand we celebrate his birthday every year with a gathering at his favorite pub with cousins uncles aunts and friends. We face-time his brother in new york as we toast him with guinness and bailey’s in a “car bomb” and we sing happy birthday. This was the 9th anniversary and it has become a joyful gathering where we start planning for our summer vacation as an extended family.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, My Son also took his own life on May 3rd 2015. I would be lying if I said it gets easier.

  22. the second word in this commentary should read-you’re, it is read “if (you are)

  23. This July 13th will be the 1 yr anniversary that my husband passed I’ve been dreading this day but yet there’s nothing more than I love to do but remember him with the ones he loved and anyone that would like to be apart of it. I’ve been trying to think of ideas and I found on the internet sky lanterns I think that’s what I want to do. His birthday will be 2 weeks later so the month of July is hard for me and our kids. Since he passed his family has not spoke to me or my kids they find it better for them to place blame and not include me or my CHILDERN in there life I think it’s very sad cause my husband would be very upset that they have treated us HIS family very bad. I wish they would be part of what I’d like to do but in his honor I’m going to carry on and do something for him with my family and childern. I cremated him and have him here at home with us so having his favorite food for dinner and skylanyers is what I plan to do

  24. As I sit her and read all the post’s from different people it make me feel like I’m getting better, I lost my “soulmate” and the love of my life on April 2nd 2015, I have a large family and they all try to help me get through this but, I have such a HEAVY heart as I approach the anniversary of his death. I continue to have him on my mind at least 20-30 times a day “no kidding” it seems everything I see reminds of something we did or shared or even wanted to do.etc.I have planted a beautiful little tree in his honor of his birthday, released balloons with the family 1 for each year of his life. My son built a bench to sit by the tree for fathers day, so we have done many of the things already but, as I sat and read through the suggestions of things to do to commemorate his memory I found something that is very fitting, he was always very neat and kept all his things in order his side of the closet was always perfect, me not so much. I really felt bad about that later, when he was gone and my part of the closet was still a mess! so that’s what I’m going to do!! I know I will feel his presence <3

  25. Hello, we are trying to come up with idea for the 1 year mark on losing our daughter, Makinley Rain was 13years old, and fought hard for 21 months with leukemia. We want to do something big for her remembrance. Do y’all have any suggestions

  26. I lost my daughter on March 14th 2015, she fought cancer for 15 years. She was so strong and so positive and life without her is very difficult. She was only 47, and should have had many more years, but her suffering is over and she is with God. I struggle to keep positive for her children and do the best I can, although I know I will never measure up to her. I am trying to plan something to celebrate her life and appreciate all the suggestions I can get. Thank you for this site.

  27. Sophia, I lost my mom a year ago today too. March 3rd, 2015. I can’t believe how difficult it’s been and sometimes I still don’t think it’s true. I shared the fact that this was the one year anniversary with some of my coworkers just to acknowledge it in some way. I’m going to have a glass of wine, light a candle, say a prayer, and cry little bit before I go to bed.

  28. My birthday is March 2, that is the day one year ago that the doctors lost my father but were able to revive him. I spent my entire birthday at the hospital completely lost. That was the day I was told his body was deteriorating and we needed to start saying our good byes. March 3, 2016 was the day my father earned his angel wings. The day my father watched me take my first breath, exactly 34 years later I watched him taking some of his last breaths of air. These two days I’ve been dreading for almost a year now. I will be honest, I just want to lock my self in my room have a tantrum all by myself. I think the world should stop just so I can grieve. Now I know that’s not possible, I have children so I have to get up take them to school and then go to work. I’m not sure how I ha going to handle these two days. Everyone wants me to celebrate my birthday, for the past year now I’ve made it very clear. I NO LONGER HAVE A BIRTHDAY. To me, there is nothing to celebrate. 🙁

    • Sophia, your post struck a chord with me. I had my first birthday without my lovely Dad last May. I didn’t lose Dad on or around my birthday so I can only imagine how completely torn you feel. I had friends who tried to tell me I had to celebrate my birthday but, like you, there is nothing to celebrate. I was firm with my friends (to the point of being harsh) & told them the day was special because Dad made it special every year with little things he did for me & without him there is no birthday. You do whatever you feel. For me, I pretended it wasn’t my birthday, went home from work & cried my eyes out.
      Sending you love, you WILL get through those awful 2 days x

  29. Starting this year, each year on the anniversary of my wife’s passing, I will donate blood. When we first started dating, she had been impressed that I was a regular blood donor.

  30. February 8th is the anniversary of my father’s death. He was not an easy man to have as a father – exacting, smart, funny yet not one to easily share his feelings. I believe I was special to him and he sure was a special man to me. He was kind but quiet about it, he was giving but would never openly acknowledge it. At his wake, I heard literally a hundred stories about how my father helped in one way or another. He would make fun of my trusting and giving nature but after hearing these stories, I realize he was more trusting and giving than I have ever been.

    My father…measure twice, cut once. Be kind but never overly ingratiating. Give to others but do so because it’s only through the grace of God that we are not in the same position. Until the last six weeks of his life, he was not especially giving of his love in an open way except with animals. What is the saying…the true measure of a man is how he treats those less fortunate and animals.

    On our way to the grave site, a stranger stopped walking and saluted as we passed (the hearse had a Marine sticker in honor of my father’s service). I thank this man, this stranger, for celebrating and recognizing the greatness of my father. I don’t have to measure twice. He was and will forever be a hero in my eyes.

    My father would be laughing right now, saying I’m overly sentimental – that he was nothing special. He was special to me, my mother, my siblings, my animals and to so many others. I miss him every day but as I read other posts, I am also extremely grateful that we had in him in our lives for as long as we did – so many others have lost someone special way too soon. I feel blessed for having him as a father, a teacher and a guiding force in my life.

  31. June 29, 2016 is my grandfathers 1-yr anniversary since his passing. It has been so hard for me. He passed away from a stage four stomach cancer… I miss him so much. But I would like to do something with my family to remember him by. Since it’ll be the 1st year, what do you suggest?

  32. Thank you for this posting of ideas. In May, will be one year since my husband’s, John, home going. I am wanting to do something for him, for me, his siblings for a remembrance. He didn’t like flowers, but had some wonderful hobbies to get some ideas from. Hunting, fishing, and amateur radio. In our headstone, already, are a couple of our older hand-held radios and a 1/2 wave antenna permanently mounted. I am going to take some old antlers he used for rattling, and a little fishing pole and find a way to secure them. As a hunter, he was very adamantly against trophy hunting and was more concerned about filling our freezer. Same thing with fishing. Luckily, where he is at is pretty isolated so very little chance of vandelism. He died two days after his birthday, so I want to have a get together for his birthday with his favorite foods and desserts. He didn’t like traditional birthday cakes and always requested banana pudding and pineapple upside down cake. I think I can do that. When we gather, it will be around a fire pit and it will be easier for his family to think on and remember all the good things they did together.

  33. My wife Jo suddenly and unexpectedly passed away13 weeks ago. She was 64 years old. In March we will be married 46 years. I’ve been going through a horrific time dealing with it. I’ve especially been extremely afraid and concerned that I’m not feeling her presence with me. This only adds to the painful loneliness I’ve been experiencing. Along with all this I am currently in the hospital with pneumonia and have been for a week now. The other day I was sitting in my hospital room thinking about my soul mate I recently lost. I was startled when I heard music coming from the hallway. I walked to the doorway and there was this lady playing a harp for the room across the hall. I’m thinking harp music, associated with Angels and Heaven maybe this is a sign from my wife. I listened my eyes tearing up until she was finished, it was beautiful. She saw me and approached me. I explained to her about my wife and how I thought my wife may have sent her to me. She asked if I would like her to play something for me and I said yes please. She randomly took a sheet of music from the many she had and began to play. Before she was finished I recognized the song and began to shake uncontrollably. I said to her I know that song, it’s called A Time For Us, the theme song from the1968 movie Romeo and Juliet. She said yes you’re right. Tears running down my face I said to her “that was my wife’s and my favorite song and movie. We were seniors in high school and associated ourselves with the movie. The movie came out October 8, 1968. We went on a date to see it that Friday which was October 11, 1968. My wife passed away on October 11, 2015. Coincidence, I don’t think so. She sent me a sign and connected our beginning together and the end of us in this world. Needless to say, I thanked the lady, went back in my hospital room and cried for an hour.

  34. Monday 4 January will mark the one-year passing of my best friend, my mom. I have been incredibly teary since Christmas, with New Year’s Eve being the worst of it. My husband and I had planned a day trip to the beach (two hour drive each way) because that’s where I feel closest to her. However, all of the emotions of the past week have left me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed…now a day trip seems too much to manage. However, the thought of just staying home is causing my anxiety to ramp up. I want desperately to acknowledge her that day–and be away from here–but am at a loss as to how to do that. Also, her 75th birthday is three weeks later, on the 25th. I love all the ideas in this post, but can’t find any that “fit.” What do I do???

  35. I have a FaceBook page that I started called “Random Acts of Remembrance”.. this isnt an ad or plug for my page-I don’t get anything for it. lol..I started it to remember my Mom by doing kid things for others in her memory. Each Mothers Day, birthday or other anniversary I try to do little acts of kindness or remembering. Sometimes I leave bubbles in the park for kids, on the 4th of July I took lighted balloons and glow sticks and left them in baskets for people to take and enjoy-in memory of fun times I had with my mom or my brother who also passed away. It was awesome to see lighted balloons all over the park at night. We’ve had a lot of loss this year, my nieces husband tragically died, I think when it warms up I will take some bait to a good fishing spot and leave it for a random fisherman because Mike so loved to fish. Anyway, I started the FB page hoping maybe others will find ways to celebrate or remember their lost loved one and share it if they so choose. It’s kind of like a FB page of love for those who have gone before us. <3…

  36. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my mothers passing from cancer. My sisters, grandma, and I were around her holding her hand when she took her last breath. My sisters and I plan on making waffles in the morning, it was a tradition mom did on the weekends. We also plan on having a twilight marathon because she loved to do that. We also plan on digging out a bunch of old photos and making photo albums together. We are all pretty young.. 21, 18, 15, and 13 years old. So this is the most we can all handle doing. She was the glue to our family. We are all still pretty lost.

  37. Life must go on even if one’s loved ones are passed on from this life to another. Christians believe in eternal life and others have other beliefs about life after death. So there is life after death which means the dead are never DEAD! They do exist in spirit. So why grieve? Stay focused on what your loved ones would expect you to achieve in life and go for it in that way you show gratitude to the deceased ( although absent in body). Reminding oneself of the past is NOT a good practice because we force ourselves into grieving again and again. There is an end for everything and we must learn to accept reality and move on with our lives.

  38. My 13-year old daughter passed away unexpectedly just three weeks ago. I found your website as I was looking for some meaningful way to recognize the monthly anniversaries (a year seems way to far away right now; just getting through each day is still a huge challenge). I like the idea of candle lighting and think that I will start this monthly tradition with my husband and our two boys. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

  39. Tuesday is the ninth anniversary of the loss of my husband. Each year my 3adult children and their families get together and celebrate “dead day.” Each year we do something to remember and honor their father/my husband and I’m out of ideas. That’s how I found this website. There is comfort in hearing other people’s stories and knowing that others can truly relate to what one is going through.
    These are some of the things we have done to celebrate his life. Had his favorite quote mounted on a paper weight for each of my kids; each child selected a piece of his jewelry; planted a tree in his honor; created stepping stones for our garden; made at t-shirt quilt; dedicated brick pavers with his name at a sports addition at his high school; that’s about it. Need some more hands on ideas. Thank you for this site. There is very little out there for helping someone to heal

  40. Hi was looking for someone to help
    Sadly last year I lost my young brother who I spent very much of my time with him we were really close but me being a mum myself I dnt understand why my mum has kept my brothers death or even what happnend or where is body is laid to rest a secret from me and my dad so when it comes to paying our respect to my brother ware totally lost for what we can do if anyone could good we

  41. Eleanor, I was googling when I came across your blog. Tomorrow will be the 1st anniversary if my husbands death. Then in two weeks the 2nd anniversary of my son’s death to suicide. And next week would have been the 28th wedding anniversary for my husband and me. So October pretty much stinks. I have planned for months to spend the day along, watching our wedding video, listening to our CD’ s etc. My friends wanted me to spend the day with them. Our kids are all grown and live in other states. No family here. Am I wrong for wanting to be alone. Is it “dis-honouring” him?I need to grieve and I’m not a “public” person.

    • Sue, it is definitely NOT wrong to want to be alone. You need to do what feels right for you. If you communicate that with your friends hopefully they will understand. If they are very focused on ‘helping’ you by doing something with you, you may be able to refocus the effort by making plans to get together on a different day.

      Your comment made me think of a post I wrote a while back that you might appreciate. http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/fathers-day-sulking-without-apology/

    • Sue,

      I do not think it is ‘dishonoring’ him at all to spend the day as planned. You decided to spend the day in the way that you did because it allowed you to be close to his memory and to spend time in reflection. You know your own limitations and what would you find most meaningful and fulfilling. I absolutely think you should stick to your plan and whatever you find comfort in, you can catch up with your friends the next day.

      Eleanor

  42. I have been reading all of the posts and my heart goes out to everyone. The ones who have lost children, my heart aches for you. I lost both of my parents this past December in 2014, 19 days apart. My mom had Alzheimers and my dad passed 19 days later of a broken heart. Every one has started talking about the holidays will be here before long and I find myself tearing up. My mom was buried the day before my birthday and my dad the day before Christmas Eve. Last Christmas I was just numb. I am really hoping I can pull myself together this year and remember the Christmas’ past just spending time with them. I want to smile and laugh!

    • Trudy, my heart breaks for you. I lost my Dad last September very suddenly which is bad enough but to lose both parents & in such a short space of time is truly devastating. I am so, so sorry for your loss. The thing that stuck out for me in your post is that you want to laugh & smile. The fact that you want to is a massive achievement! Maybe around Christmas time you could do something your parents would love? Maybe a family ritual you did every year? This is your journey so you need to do what is right for you. My heart goes out to you x

  43. Tuesday 9/22/15 will mark the 2nd anniversary of my 22 year old son’s death as a passenger in a car accident. He often went camping with his uncle. He was always the first to ask to start a fire in the fireplace, as soon as the season called for it. OK, let’s just call it what it is. Kendall was a pyro. And honestly, he got it from me. ;0) We will be gathering in my brother’s forest-like back yard and making a Kamp fire for Kendall. We all feel that if we gather in his name and light a fire…he’ll be there. I miss him so. He was the daughter I never had, “my buddy”.

  44. My Daughter Danielle ,22, passed away suddenly,unnecessarily,and to my dis-belief and horror…I burst through her bedroom door,and found her on her bed,but it was too late,this was on 8-3-15…I screamed call 911 to my Mom and tried C.P.R…til the Medics arrived,I’m SO bereaved and still in a state of shock and tormenting horror of if I might have knocked on her door sooner that day,this very well have could of been prevented,I’m racked with grief and some guilt about why didn’t i knock on her door this day,as I would randomly,here and there because we were on different schedules and though we lived together,we wouldn’t see each other that much because of our differing ways we slept and did our usual things…nothing seemed out of sorts that day,I found out through the coroner,she had Oxycontin in her system that mixed wrong with her regular medications she took,and it threw her into a “fall out” state,if you will….it is very difficult to even be typing this,as I haven’t yet fully digested all this horror,It wasnt an overdose of the Oxycontin,either,it all mixed terribly wrong and overcame my girl….I don’t have a clue how I would do most of the list of things,because I’m so bereft,it hurts so badly right now,mostly I cry for her….At 30 day mark,I took my Mother (who lives here,too) and we went to our 1st Grief Group,called The Compassionate Friends…they are a Nation Wide group and if anyone reads this would like to go to a meeting in their area,you may look them up on your computer,for one in your area….I just don’t know to go about these things that will be coming up,I feel like she didn’t get to live,so why should I celebrate? It’s too early,much too early for me….others who are able,that is wonderful,but for me,It will be so hard to try most of your suggestions,it’s been such a short amount of time,I can light a candle,i know at least that….I’m pretty lost right now being without her,and it was SO sudden…She Loved Her Life,as many of our loved one’s did,it’s all too sad for me at this point,but your suggestions are very honorable…Something may come,someday? I do hope,I do……I haven’t much Family,we were pretty much everything to each other,I do have my Son inPA….maybe when her Birthday comes around :'( …we can do something,I live in South Carolina…..I’m just baffled as one of the people who also posted said they were going 100 m.p.h….seems so am I ….thank-You for the tips though.

  45. October 26, 2013 was the day my world forever changed, when my mom left this world and left me all alone (not really, but it feels like it sometimes). I think we get ourselves worked up for the day coming up and it’s not nearly as bad as we expect. I, with you, will also always relate the fall with her passing and will never enjoy it like I used to. It’s a hard life without her! ?

  46. sadly my daughter died at 27 on the fourth of july 2010. we cant hardly forget when she passed at 6A:09 pm that night. so we buy some of those oriental lanterns and release them into the sky when we are done with out fireworks as a way to remember her.

  47. My boyfriend, Rey passed away on October 29, 2014. He was my best friend, my first boyfriend, my first kiss, and he is also the father of our son Joaquin. I don’t know really what Im looking for. I just want our son to always remember his father and the love he had for him. He was 21 months old when his dad passed and even though Joaquin may not fully comprehend the idea of Rey being gone forever it motivates me to ensure he understands his father loved him. He still points at the moon and tell her good night like his Dada used to tell him to do. Thank you ladies for your support, I was too depressed before to care enough to find a way to cope. But with his 1 year anniversary(I hate that word!) coming up I want to remember Rey and I want Joaquin to remember too! God Bless

  48. What can you do for a birthday memorial for a 2 year old who passed away at 5 1/2 month’s old.

  49. Hi,
    I am coming up for the first anniversary of losing my lovely Dad on 8th September (a date that is ingrained into my brain). I still remember every minute detail from that day when I got the call to say he was gone. It was so sudden. I had spoken to Dad that morning and he was fine. Anyway, I’m finding that I’m having strange feelings lately. Apart from still not believing Dad has gone and feeling like the wind is knocked out me; I am quite snappy, acting completely irrationally and the dreams about my Dad are so vivid – more vivid than before. The few times I have dreamt about Dad he has always been just out of my reach but lately, it’s like he is right there and I can see him so clearly – into his eyes and even the few wrinkles that he had, down to his salt and pepper hair. I like to think this is my Dad telling me that he knows I’m struggling and he’s here. Mum and I are dreading “the day” as it creeps closer. We’ll be together on the 8th September but we have no plans on how to get through it. I like the suggestions mentioned in the blog and any others would be welcome.
    Thanks
    Tracy

  50. All great ideas that can help grieving people heal.

    If I may plug myself regarding #4. …I create Memory Owls
    from a loved ones special clothing. You can see them here;
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/244342054/your-custom-9-memory-owl-to-love?ref=shop_home_active_1

    All the best in the process.

  51. As of August 19th 2015, my best friend, Matthew, will have been gone for 12 years. He would be 19 years old. On August 19th, I go to the park by my house and watch a little league baseball game, Matt loved, and I mean LOVED baseball. That kid probably had more baseball cards and new more about his favorite teams (the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers) than some long time collectors I know. I haven’t been to his grave in the 12 years since he was buried there, but I want to, and one of these years I’ll do it. I’ll bring votive candles and incense sticks, and I’ll show him the signed baseball I got from my 7th grade field trip to a Brewers vs. Cubs game. If he were still alive I’d have just given it to him long ago. I also tend to read the poems that I love and that would be on my “I miss Matthew” playlist if only they were set to music. Then, I revamp my efforts, my promises to him and myself,

    1. He will not be forgotten
    2. I will try to live the way he would have wanted me to
    3. I will remember the joy more than the pain
    4. I will support the awareness of, and research for the conditions which led to his death at every opportunity, whether that means charity marches, signing petitions, participating wholeheartedly in awareness weeks, writing/speaking about them and the importance of coming up with more effective and affordable treatment options.
    5. In short, I will do all I can, in any and all small ways I can, to help create a world in which a child in the same situation will not only be expected to live beyond 7 yrs, but to adulthood and beyond. So that, what we (Matt’s family and friends) went through in 2003 never has to happen again.

  52. My mother passed away on June 16th 2015 from cancer. Today is the 30th of July her birthday 🙁 I am 26yrs of age and the youngest in the family. We will be gathering today as a family to have a cake for our mother in her honour. She would have been 56yrs old, I cry everyday and this is the first time I am talking to someone about this. My boss at work gave me this website to help me through work. I am amazed on the posts and replies. I love you mum always and forever!

    • Hi Jason,
      I read your post this morning with tears in my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss. I like what you did for your Mum’s birthday. You will be amazed at the strength you will find to keep going and I promise you will find the strength. I have found a lot of comfort in this site since I lost my lovely Dad last year. I don’t need to tell you that you will miss your Mum forever but you will find yourself smiling when you think of her instead of crying. It’s still so early and raw for you. Give yourself time and grieve at your own pace. Keep talking about your Mum to your loved ones. She is still with you and always will be. Thinking of you.
      Tracy

  53. Brandy
    Posted on March 8, 2015 at 11:59 am
    “Today is my only son, Jr, 2nd birthday (out of 4 kids) if he hadn’t been still born at full term…”

    Brandy, I am so sorry for what you are going through and I pray that the things you are doing are helping you cope. I am writing to you because your post hit me very hard and also slightly concerned me. While I don’t know your specific loss, I do know loss. A lot of it.
    The first and most important thing to understand is that guys aren’t ‘wired’ the same way women are. Please hear me out… My wife and I have been through this on many different occasions. I know how horrible this sounds, but your husband may not need to grieve openly. He may not want to grieve at all. I strongly suggest you don’t try to push him. Guys must prioritize their feelings. If they do not, it can become very dangerous. While women are generally powerful floods of emotion capable of experiencing and managing a wide range of feelings all at once, many men compartmentalize everything. We must keep our best feelings on the forefront so that they will be the emotions that directly affect everything we do. If we dwell on sorrow, our lives will be driven by sorrow. Because of this, many of us tend to take these terrible things and lock them away. They are not buried, building and waiting to explode, they are simply placed on a shelf where we don’t need to think about them. This does not mean that we don’t care! Sometimes, when we are all alone, we may pull out the little box, open it up, and let a few tears fall. Then we close it, put the lock back on, and put it back on its shelf.
    I am begging you not to try to push your husband to open up. If he does it on his own, then he is ready for it and will be able to control it… But, I fear, if you succeed in convincing him to grieve in such an outward manner, you may start him on a downward spiral of anger, hate, fear and other intense emotions that guys are not designed to handle in such magnitude. This could cause severe problems for your family. PLEASE, just let him be dad. Do what you need to do for you and your daughters, but don’t push him. He will deal with it in the way that is best for him.

    Very Sincerely,
    Adam

    • Adam, thanks for taking the time to comment! You and Brandy get at such a difficult topic when grieving, which is how we grieve together. People have so many different grief styles and it can be a huge strain on a relationship when people are not meeting each other’s grief expectations. It isn’t ideal for either person in a relationship not to communicate what they need from another person and, at the same time, it is not ideal for one person to push or impose their grief style on the other person. These can be difficult waters to negotiate, especially when everyone is struggling moe than usual because of their grief. This post discusses gender and different grief styles and may be useful.

    • Adam… Thank you for the very insightful post you wrote. Two years ago April 1st, 2014 my daughter, her husband, myself and her grandfather experienced the same type of loss. I was there with my daughter and son in law when my dear grandson was born. He lived for 1 hour and 2 minutes and then he was taken from us. As far as the advice you gave I believe you were spot on because I have experienced the same type of reaction… But with my daughter. She doesn’t want to discuss it, if you mention it she gets angry or will cut me off and say ” Don’t talk about it”. It’s hard for me to rationalize that she has put it in a box and has closed it where as I have still very raw emotions about it and still cry and knowing that date is coming up is bringing it to the surface. Everyone does grieve in a different way and there are support groups out there that can help you deal with all the emotions that come from a loss. A loss of any type is hard, but a loss of a child is gut wrenching… It is not the natural order of how things are meant to be. Because my daughter is dealing with it in a different way than I am I am in a support group so I can be with other people that are grieving the same way i am. You have to take care of yourself and your feelings and that’s all you can do. Grief and loss is so, so difficult but I have learned as well you can’t push someone to grieve or deal with a loss the same way you do… We all do it in our own way in our own time. It’s difficult when you are not on the same page but you just have to learn to accept it. I would strongly suggest a support group or some type of professional help or if you are involved in a church to talk to a priest/pastor.. Whatever. I hope the situation gets easier with time. I will be thinking of your little angel next Friday as I think of our family’s little angel as well!

  54. Hi,
    I have only just found this blog via Pinterest (thank you Pinterest!) and I have to say it’s brilliant. I only lost my beloved Dad in September 2014 and it was so sudden I didn’t even get a call to say he was unwell, it was a call to say he was gone so you can imagine the pain my Mum and I have gone through every day since 8th September. I’ve had counselling which has helped but I still have those “manic days” where I go at 100 mph because I’m afraid to stop. Anyway, I’m babbling again! I just wanted to say how comforting this blog is and I have found myself doing some of the things your have suggested for my Dad’s birthday, which was in Feb (he would’ve been 70). It’s comforting to know I’m not going as mad as I thought.
    Thank you again,
    Tracy

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I am so sorry for your loss, but glad you have found some help on our site. Knowing our site is of some help to others is what keeps us writing!

  55. Thanks Eleanor. I think you are right in what you say with regard to reconciling or making peace with what happened. Im not entirely sure how to do that and Im interested in researching ways of managing the painful memories and how I can try and have some control over them. It is difficult avoid to bad dreams, as we have no control over those – but the daytime flashbacks is something that maybe I can try and work on. Anyway, its something to think about. You are right – its nearly Summer, although in London UK we can’t always guarantee it haha.. Jo 🙂

  56. Thank you for putting this blog together… My twin sister has been gone 13 years this week. She died just before our 32nd birthday of cancer. Life has changed so much since she left us.. but I still say good night to her photo every evening. The emotions around her anniversary always creep up on me, no matter how much I try to prepare myself for it every year. It comes over me like a huge wave of emotion, which includes nightmares when I sleep and flashbacks during the day of her final weeks of this brutal disease. I guess my question is, why does my brain only allow me to remember the horror.. not the fun, the laughter? Nicola had a wonderful life until her breast cancer came.. we were close and would laugh all the time. Yet when I sleep.. and when the anniversary approaches.. these bad images seem to takeover… I wish I could stop them. It is comforting to know I’m not alone after reading your blog.. Time is a great healer I really believe that….. and I say that to all the people who have recently lost someone.. but the anniversaries are always tough.

    Jo.

    • Jo,

      You’re right, time is a great healer but as you’ve said here, there are still things that hurt even 13 years later. Litsa and I were just discussing the other night how the twin bond is one so close neither of us can truly understand it – I’m sure you feel pain for this loss that others can’t fully comprehend. I’m sorry you still live with the awful memories at times. Maybe there’s something about these events you need to reconcile or make peace with, and maybe it’s that they are just awful memories that will be difficult to ever forget. Thank you for offering your perspective and I hope this time of year hasn’t been too rough on you. At least summer is around the corner 🙂

      Eleanor

  57. Hi I lost my daughter Emily May 1of last year to cancer…she was only 15 months old. My heart aches for her everyday. Most of her short life was spent in and out of hospitals for weekly periods at a time. Most of the time just her and I and I find it a struggle to cope with life without her now. I went from her constantly by my side to nothingness. The anniversary of her death is coming up very soon and I don’t know what to do….it feels as if it were just yesterday that we sat in the hospital holding her telling her how much we love her as she took her last breaths. I remember it clear as day and it just rips me apart.

    • Oh Christina,

      I can hear in your words how painful your grief is on a daily basis. I’m sure it does feel like she was here just yesterday, as I’m sure this last year has been a blur. I encourage you to go extremely easy on yourself as the year mark of her death approaches. What do you need to do to get through the day? How can you take care of yourself? Is there a small way you want to spend time in quiet reflection with her memory or honor her? If it’s all you can do to get out of bed, that’s okay – I’m sure you honor her every day and will continue to do so forever. To the extent that you can, surround yourself with whatever you find comforting.

      We’ll keep your family in our thoughts,

      Eleanor

  58. First of all I want to extend my condolences to Eleanor & Litsa and everyone whose taken the time to share their story of grief. I wanted to respond to Claire’s comment above but couldn’t get that to work. Today is the 10th anniversary of when I lost my Mom & I agree that time doesn’t heal everything, rather it just shows you that you can get through it & carry on, even if the wounds are still there. My Mom’s passing was sudden & unexpected and I barely remember the first year after. All I know is that each anniversary I make a shepherd’s pie which was the meal we cooked together that night, look at pictures & video of her, and then I write in a journal, which allows me to cry and “talk” with her. Like you said Eleanor, the biggest fear is that somehow you will forget them so I think it’s important to not only honor them but reassure yourself that they are still a part of you. I used to carry a huge burden of guilt – I should have known something was wrong, I could have done more for her when she was here, etc but I realize she wouldn’t want me to feel this way. Sometimes I’ve written Mother’s Day cards & just seal them and keep them in a box. When I get lost in missing her I remember to feel fortunate for the time I did have & to have shared such a special relationship with her, otherwise it wouldn’t still hurt so much. I think loss can not be defined by a title (ie Mother, Father, brother, friend, etc) but rather is based on the relationship you had with that person, which could even be your next door neighbor. I appreciate your ideas above. After the first couple years I didn’t gather anyone together as I didn’t want to make them feel like they had to be sad, since they may not feel the same level of loss that I do. I usually get a few messages from friends/family letting me know they’re thinking of me and my Mom & missing her which makes me feel better that I know she’s not forgotten. She was a single mother and did the best job she could raising my brother & I and if I can demonstrate the same strength she had, I know she’d be proud of me. Thank you for hosting a site that shows we are not alone.

  59. Sunday, April 19, 2015 will be 8 years that my mother passed away. I was 12 years old at the time. At the time it was very hard for me to process and make sense of her loss. Up until recently (I am 20 years old now) I am just discovering the impact that had on my emotional well-being. However, with the help of friends and family I have always felt loved and never alone. Going through that experience, I became angry and doubted most religions because of that anger. I’m not a Christian (although there is nothing wrong with being one) but I ended up find solace in Buddhism, which teaches that everything is temporary and everything that happens on this earth is an opportunity for growth, which is what I’ve chosen to view this as. I’ve also realized that our loved ones who have passed would not want us to dwell on the pain of their passing, but to remember the love they shared and make our lives the best we can. I was looking for a way to remember my mother and came across this list and I plan on doing a few of these things on Sunday. I plan on planting a tree or flower (haven’t decided yet as I live in an apartment) and spending Sunday with her side of my family going through home videos and childhood pictures. I wanted to thank the author of this list, it has given me new ways to honor my mothers life and the life she has given me.

  60. Hi, April 24, 2015 will be 13 years since my son Dean passed away. Every year on his Death anniversary we buy balloons and write a note to him. We go in our back yard and let them go to Heaven after each one of us says something to him outloud. We also pray. We watch the balloons till they are out of our sight. In the beginning I could barely get the words out without sobbing but now I am able to do it ( still makes me feel like I have a knife in my heart) but I get my words out to my son. On his first birthday after he had passed ( he would have been 22) I had a birthday party for him with food and a cake and all of his closest friends at our house. I had pictures out of him and we all ate, drank and shared stores of Dean. It seemed to be a comfort for his friends and our family as well. I also try to buy a plant on his death anniversary and plant it in our yard every year. All of this brings me comfort and some peace.

  61. I am really struggling! My son died two days after Mother’s day last year. He was 25 and not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t squeeze tight at the very memory of him. We were very tight and had spent the whole day together. It was a wonderful memory. He was so healthy and happy and truly loved life. Everyone who knew him, loved him so much! He was the only one that died in the car wreck. No one else even got hurt. It is just so unfair. I have 2 daughters and I know that they are in pain as well, we talk about him and all of his funny ways. I am DREADING the 1 year anniversary of that day so bad! Everyone has so many ideas and suggestions for it, but nothing feels right. I want to honor him and let him know that I am alright at the same time. But it is a lie. There are days that are unbearable still. If he were here, he would know just what I should do and say to be ok, and I keep trying to think like him and find his strength…….but I can’t. I go to work and do what I am supposed to do…. But NOTHING is the same. How am I going to get thru that day? I do want to celebrate his life, but his death is still so raw!

    • Marcella,

      It sounds like you are really conflicted between your feelings of pain and your desire to honor your son’s life in a way that is worthy of his memory. I think the first thing you should do is acknowledge that the day might be really hard and you might feel really awful. You don’t have to put a brave face on or be better off than you are right now. Your grief is a reflection of your love for your son and in a way you are honoring him by grieving him. Over time it will get easier to find the perfect way to honor his memory and to do things that feel more constructive.

      For this year, what is realistic? Are you the type of person who prefers to be alone on tough days or surrounded by others? What makes sense for you? Maybe this year you honor him by spending the day privately or with your kids doing something small. You could visit a place where you feel close to him or make his favorite dish for dinner, go through old photos, or just watch movies together. Perhaps you have a small group (your daughters?) over and everyone brings a letter written to him about why this year has been hard and what you miss about him and you read them out loud. I guess the main thing I’m trying to emphasize is that you don’t have to do anything big and you don’t have to have it all together for it to be right. This year is going to be the hardest one to get through, so go easy on yourself.

      Eleanor

  62. Hello everyone…
    It was nice to read everyone’s comments and the ideas given. My uncle died last year on March 27th 2014 and as his death anniversary approaches it brings back the saddest memories :'( he was just a dad to me and I wanted to do so much for him but I couldn’t because he left me. And I wasn’t by his side when he died it kills me till now why I was not there. These ideas make me feel I shoulddo something good to make him happy.
    Thanks for this. God bless u all with your losses.

  63. Lovely article. We are quickly approaching the 1 year anniversary of my husbands death. I have known all along that I did not want to be home when this date arrived, so several months ago I sat down with our kids and asked them what they wanted to do. We decided on a destination and so we will spend the week of their Dads passing in a place that we had always planned to go as a family. We will be joined on this adventure (we always called our yearly excursions to our favorite mountain town adventures) by a couple who is closer to us than our families. They have been by our side during every major event our entire married life (wedding, births, hospital stays and death) so I invited them to share in this one too. In the back of my mind I am considering making this a yearly experience, every year during this specific week we spend time as a family, having a new adventure. To me that seems like a nice tribute to the man I love and a good way to deal with him not being here to join us. There are many other things I would like to do to honor his memory but those will come with time.

  64. Thank you so much, this really helped me! I had no idea about what I could/should do to commemorate my moms death. Today is the first year anniversary of my moms death. I am now 16 and birthdays, holidays, etc. are really tough to deal with. My dad and sister don’t like talking about her death, but it feels wrong to ignore that she was ever here. I mourned on my own, using a lot of your suggestions. I am really scared that I will forget my memories of my time with my mom, any suggestions? Also, do you think it would be okay to split up her ashes when we spread them? We want to spread some at her favorite beach and some at a river in our old home town, but we aren’t sure if this is disrepectful or something.

  65. Today is my only son, Jr, 2nd birthday (out of 4 kids) if he hadnt been still born at full term. My 2 older kids have had a hard time dealing with their grief and my husband has been worse. His grief or lack of has had a horrible effect upon the rest of us. My daughters and I like to talk about Jr every once in a while when something reminds us of him. But when we have tried to talk in front of my huaband he gets upset/angry and creates a very bad atmosphere for all. So we have learned to respect hes not ready to openly talk about him. Many times this makes me as a mom very worried about my daughters and how not making their brother apart of our life daily if necessary that they will never fully release and grieve properly. I know from experience when you don’t fully grieve you become depressed, sad, feel lonely, and even anger may build. I do not want this for our kids. My mom made a specific point to help us last year while my daughters and i were visiting by giving us balloons to write on and release and celebrating his birthday with a small cake. The girls seemed so free at that time to talk and ask questions. I wish we could do this or something like it every year, but with my husband. I know its too late for advice for today, but if anyone has any suggestions for us thru out the year instead of only one day out the year that would be much aappreciated!

  66. My beloved friend lorna died 7th march last year. She was diagnosed with cancer three weeks previously but had decided not to tell anyone except her parents and husband as she had been told she had 9 months to live. When her husband called me with the news she had passed I was in shock. I was so angrey with cancer, I still am. How dare cancer take my friend of 35 years. We grew up, went through school, holidays together, weddings births of our kids etc etc. I miss her so much. She was cremated and her ashes have not been scattered yet and I live 3 hours from her husband and so I need suggestions what to do on the anniversary. Thanks in advance

  67. Hi Eleanor – I just found your wonderful site. I am a trauma therapist and as you can imagine I work with folks everyday who have experienced many kinds of grief. I only joined your site a couple of days ago and already have found so much useful. I really appreciated how to get through holidays. The rock star tutorial on Father’s Day sulking will be especially helpful information. Anyway, thanks for hosting such a remarkable site. I am sure to suggest the site to many.

  68. Go to your child’s class room and share with his classmates, memories they have cherished of him . This one I made up but to me it sounds extra special. Have the teacher do up pictures by the children to give to you about what they loved about your precious child as keepsakes for you.

  69. My 78 year old grandfather or ”papa” like what me and my family called him died on this month on the 27th. He was also born on this month. He was born on the same street where he died. New Orleans, AMA, LA CrookedR Lane. I miss him so much he loved to see me on trips from Savannah where I live.

    • Jonathan, I am so sorry for your loss, but glad you found our little corner of the internet 🙂 I am sure his birthday and the anniversary of his death coming up in the same month is tough- I hope you find what works for you to honor him. Take care!!

  70. Thank you for this list and everyone for your suggestions. The end of this month will be the 1 year mark of losing my best friend (one of the most important and influential people in my life), and I’m still searching for ideas. For her birthday I (with help) did a random act of kindness for each year of her life and invited others to join in. It turned out to be a wonderful day of celebration. For this anniversary I know I want/need to do something low-key and full of honor, remembrance, and permission to myself to keep healing and moving forward. I just don’t know what yet. I don’t live near friends or family who knew her, so I feel a little like I’m on my own… Which is ok–just need to figure out how I want that day to look. I won’t lie. It kind of exhausts me to think about it.

    • I suggest praying and not to worry after you pray. Something will come to you when God is ready. It will be a great day if you give it to God.

  71. My Dad died 22 years ago and I’d like to start some remembrance rituals with my sons (three and one) on the anniversary and your list has really helped me. Thank you. Beth

    • So glad you found this list helpful. Please let us know what you decide to do! Also, I am not sure if you saw this post, but we have a post specifically on ideas for children who didn’t know or who can’t remember the person who died. You can find it here.

  72. Being Motherless:

    I’ve journeyed all of my first’s (the first year of Xmas & New Year, Mother’s Day, special events, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. following a death). The support of family and close friends has been phenomenal. Despite it all, as I approach the first anniversary, I am feeling lost as to how I will remember, honor, and celebrate 365 days without my Mother.
    So here I am. I don’t feel like I have crossed a finish line or won any kind of trophy, and I certainly don’t feel like I have achieved any sort of closure. I definitely don’t feel as though time has healed anything, because all that I feel time has done.
    I still carry my grief with me. It is a part of me now. My grief is made of irreparable loss, of pain, of memories flashing lights of Red Cross ambulance (I still got the same effect on me).
    If I learned anything, it is that no one can be prepared for a major death, and time can’t fix everything. All time does is allow you to find a way to accommodate grief, like a sudden and permanent limp that doesn’t stop you completely but will forever alter the way you move through the world.
    Now I know why you always asked me to be strong… because you know that one day I would need the strength to bear your loss. I miss you mom.

    • Claire,

      I’m not sure anyone could have put it any better. Especially your closing thought “Now I know why you always asked me to be strong…because you know that one day I would need the strength to bear your loss”. Closure, time, getting over grief; these are all myths only very few people realize it until they’ve actually experienced the realities for themselves. I’m so sorry for your pain and your grief. My heart goes out to you.

      Eleanor

      • I am also motherless. No grandchildren. My mother will have no grandchildren either. It takes a lot of faith in God and daily efforts to become closer to God to seek peace and grace to continue each day. I have a book “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. I get up and read it first thing and thank God for what I do have. He has a plan. I know how you feel being motherless. Love, Rhonda

    • Also Claire, have you tried journaling about what you’ve been going through? You have a way with words and I can attest from my own experience that writing can be immensely healing. Just a thought.

  73. March 17 will be my mom first death anniversary…Her hospitalization and death has been one of the most painful times in my life. It’s hard not to tear up when I think of Mom. Words cannot express how much she means to me. She taught me so much by witnessing unconditional love, and her beautiful example of enduring strength in suffering. Her faith in God was unshakeable, and her sense of hope undiminishing.

  74. It’s been 7 months since my brother passed away. My 3 year old daughter and his 3 year old son. Love to look at his pictures and argue about who he is my daughter says that’s my uncle and my nephew says that my daddy lol. My husband and I are in the processing of buying a bigger home so we can start having my niece and nephew over to stay. I would love a way of honoring my brother in my home do you have any ideas? He was a big hunter and a sherriffs officer. Thank you

    • Bailey,

      I’m sure we could come up with something. An important question first though, do you want to do something that would include the children or is this just something you would like to do/have in general?

      Eleanor

  75. Next week, January 29, 2015 will be one year since I lost my father to cancer. He left this world just a couple months away from my high school graduation. Him being there would be my greatest accomplishment ever. He saw me in spirit but I wish he was there in human. My mother has been strong too, being on dialysis three times a week and still raising myself and my 6 year old nephew. Me and my older brother do our best to provide for our mother on whatever she needs and wants. I take her out on road trips, buy her favorite foods and talk about all the memories we had with my dad. Some tears will be shed yes, but if I just keep praying and asking God for guidence and wisdom, I know for a fact he is smiling down on us.

    R.I.P. Mr. Clean We Love You Always (September 27, 1939)-(January 29, 2014)

  76. I lost my only child, my 15 and a half year old daughter Kaitlin on 5/20/08, it will be 7 years in the spring. Shortly after Kaitlin died I bought a helium tank an balloons at Wal-Mart, her best friend and I would fill them up and than write letters to her in heaven, sending them up to her. On what would have been her 16th birthday I bought a couple of the big mylar balloons took a sharpie pen and filled them front and back and let them go, letters to heaven, to my girl who I had so many things I still wanted to say to her, so I did, and still do. Every birthday and on the day she went home to God I send my precious angel letters to heaven and I figure she floats around up there reading them knowing that she still is and always be the best part of my life, always and forever my Kaitlin Lee.

  77. I just stumbled on this blog, and it really could not have come at a better time. I love the balloon release idea and I may just invite some close friends over to reminisce about my angel. I bought a gold urn necklace (memorialurnjewelry.com) a few months ago, and knowing that I hold her close to my heart is very comforting. Thanks for the support and the shared experiences.

  78. Its almost a year since I lost my Mom and I am still heavily greiving. You dont just lose a person. You lose everything you had together and everything you were suppose to have. The hardest part is that my daughter, who adored her Grandma, was only two years and a few months old. And I am also dealing with the reasons why she was sick in the first place. My Mother deserves to be memorialized in a great meaningful way. Which is how I ended up on this site. Im thinking a candle vigil would be really nice along with some words about her. Her story should be told. Anyway, thankyou for putting the effort and time in trying to help others cope.

  79. I really love a lot of the suggestions. Today is the one anniversary since my mom passed on December 2, 2013. I’m definitely going to use some of these ideas. Seeing this post and responses makes feel less alone. I was my mom’s only child, so seeing this makes me feel like there are other people that understand what I’m going through.

  80. Tomorrow is my moms birthday.
    I have to go to work all day and be strong, when all I feel like I need to do is go back to my hometown and “talk with her” in my head.
    My husband is working all day. My father isn’t flying home until 1030.
    I am fearing being alone. Hoping that writing it down on an online forum can make it all go away.

    You are all wonderful and blessed people. <3

  81. At these times I picture myself with a bottle of pills, lilo & falling into sleep by her grave.

    • Hey Libby,

      I don’t know you or the circumstances of your loss, but I understand your pain is deep. First of all I must ask you if you are having thoughts of giving up, or if you feel like there is no reason to live, to please seek immediate help. If you have a counselor or therapist call them right away, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or you can even walk into your local ER.

      Honestly, I understand your statement because I have heard many grievers say after their loved one died that they just didn’t care about anything anymore. When your in such deep pain it is difficult to see a reason to live; but I promise you this deep deep pain will pass and the same grievers who have said they once felt such desperate despair also say that after making it through the darkness things did become easier.

      I know these times, the anniversaries and the holidays, are the times when it seems like things couldn’t possibly get any worse. But we really need you to get through these days because, as I think many grievers who’ve felt similar to you might even attest, someday you will feel okay. It will never be the same and you will always grieve, but year by year these anniversaries become easier to handle and hopefully in time those memories that are so extremely painful right now might bring you some comfort and help you to continue your relationship with Lilo.

      Please Libby, again don’t give up and if you feel like you might harm yourself, talk to someone. We are always here to do what we can to help locate resources in your local community. Please reach out to us if you need assistance.

      Sincerely,
      Eleanor

  82. 2013-Was the happiest time and the saddest time if my life on, May 16 I got married to my wonderful husband Miguel and on December 6 my my wonderful mommy Shirley died I am grateful I have the wonderful Lord in my life and my mom did its coming upon her 1st year aanniversary of going to be with the Lord I will do some of these things and I want to say everytime we do something our loved one taught us they are there everytime we hear their voices or see their pictures they are there with us may God bless us all with better tomorrows God bless nora cerna♡♡♡♥♥♥♥

  83. Set the table for your loved one and let them have dinner with you 🙂

  84. These suggestions really helped out on the anniversary do my grandfathers passing; he passed on October 28, 2013. On the one year anniversary I did what we always used to do, go to dunkin donuts where I felt like he was right there with me. After my best friend and I went to a hockey game(where we saved a spot for him). This site is so helpful I just wanted to say thank you

  85. Wow Eleanor thank you for this blog. I stumbled on to it while being undecided about visiting my friends grave on his birthday or anniversary. He pasted away to suicide this past summer which it still hasnt unbelievable to me. And even tho we weren’t as close as I wished we could be it was so hard watching his family and friends break down one by one and seeing his little brother just holding it all in trying to be strong. I dont think any one knew what was going on and I miss him like a dear brother. I plan on using some of ur ideas like the candle and flowers. Thank you again

  86. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. We are having a birthday party for him at his favorite ice cream parlor. On the anniversary of his death, my grandchildren come over to my house. We do a candlelight ceremony and then release balloons with notes to him. Their other grandmother passed away a year later within 4 days of my husband’s passing so I always get them balloons to send to her also.

  87. When the Anniv. Of my husbands first date came. Instead of staying stuck I had a stone bench built outside the Boys and GIRLS Club. One my husband attended as a boy. I also had a party and raised money for the next three years for a local fund given to patients undergoing, radiation and chemo treatments in their battle against this cancer. This past year ,Oct 14,2014, hurt so much more. Maybe it is just becoming more real, and permanent ? A bigger party scheduled for same fund for year 5!

  88. http://joschremp.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=1 We started a blog as soon after the death of my mom as we could. My daughter actually started it. It is a great read if I do say so myself! We have not added much to it at all, I feel that there are things that could be added now though. We are coming up on the one year anniversary. Loved your ideas, we had done a lot of them already, but there are a lot of great thing there. Thanx for the blog posting!!!

  89. Just last week was the first anniversary of the loss of one of my longest dearest friends, and next February will be the first anniversary of my daughters accident and death. For my friend, I spent the day remembering him. For my daughter, I’ll do the same and some of your suggestions here. Thank you for these, I like to plan ahead, I will be getting my first tattoo (and probably only) that day. My daughter loved Halloween and in this year of ‘firsts’ I find myself dreading certain days that were special for her. I’m finding that diving in with an open heart is my path for grieving, and will be going to a party in a great costume, to honor her love of the day. I appreciate some of the other ideas that readers have posted as well. Thank you!

  90. I lost both my parent’s two month’s apart. September 13th my mom November 14th my dad. I dealt with my grief this way everytime i would start to feel the pain, I’d go buy flower’s- angel’s things I new they liked. An i’d place them on there grave. I put a small white pickett fence. An I even hung a birdfeeder my mom loved to watch the bird’s. It helped tremendously for me. An as time goes by I can stand back and say What a beautiful resting place. A big cross stands on my dad side there grave is marked with solar light’s. So whenever i come home at night as I drive by I always say goodnight.

  91. Thank you so much for this blog/site. The list of ideas are fantastic, I will certainly be picking some to help me through, I am finding myself in floods of grief at the thought of getting through tomorrow 30th September, its 10 years since loosing mum. This anniversary seems more difficult. I feel guilty at all the achievements and things we have done and she has not been here with us to see for herself. 10 years have flown by I cant believe we are at this landmark so soon. God bless you dearest mum love you always xxx

  92. Thank you very much for this list. The first anniversary of my mother’s passing is coming up and I’m not sure what to do – but I feel I need to do something. My dad and I are still struggling with her loss so it’s going to be a really tough day. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by as it feels like just the other day we were by her bed in hospital. Thanks very much for your help x

    • Karen, I’m sorry about your mother’s death. As painful as that first year is, I know even at the end of it you feel like it was just yesterday she was here. If you aren’t feeling up for anything big, sometimes the smallest things can feel nice. Let us know how it goes.

  93. Hi Eleanor,

    The one year anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up in 2 days, and I’m dreading it. It’s been looming since September began. My mom was 59, and she died from cancer. My mom was a 19-year cancer survivor but eventually her body could not fight anymore, even though her mind was fighting cancer until the very end. Thank you for your suggestions as to what to do on this day. I’m not sure yet what I will do but I think it will involve a lot of crying and alone time. I will visit her gravesite for sure. The real reason why I decided to leave a response, is because my mom’s name is Evelyn too and I saw Renee’s response and felt the same way as her – that it is not a common name and it seemed strange at first to see her name written in big letters on your blog. It is a beautiful name. I think it’s beautiful that you named your daughter after her. When I have children, I want my first-born girl to be named after her as well. Thank you for your help and support through your blog.

    Krystal

    • Krystal,

      I am thinking of you and your family today. I am sorry about your mother’s death. I hate cancer. As twisted as it may sound, I do feel a sort of kinship to girls grieving for mothers named Evelyn. That sounded really weird, but it’s true. Take care of yourself today.

      Eleanor

  94. Mon would be my son’s birthday had he not gone to be with God last Oct.2013. First one. I beg for all the prayers I can get. He died in his sleep of a heart condition we knew nothing about. I am thankful for the times I had with him, but for some reason, I am having a hard time today. Grief has become me today as I sit in my pj’s and hope the day ends so Mon can come and go. Thanks for listening.

  95. Thanks for the interesting read. A year ago today my Uncle Pete passed away, he had aggressive brain cancer. He was a man of good manners, fantastic music taste, and most of all a great sense of humor. He left behind three young daughters, and my Aunt. We all to this day question why, such a beautiful loving person deserved this. It’s been a hard journey for all involved. But I believe he is still lingering spiritually. May he rest in peace.

    • I’m sorry about the death of your uncle. He sounds like he was a fun guy to be around and it definitely sounds like he’s still with you and the rest of his family in memory and spirit.

  96. I’m glad I found this site. My dear nephew Jason was killed Aug. 28, 2013 at around 5:30 am , shot several times in the back, one bullet went up the back of his vest hit his aorta, he died just after returning fire as he went down, saving the lives of his team. His mother and father ( my brother) are broken. I feel their pain….your ideas will help them and me, I live in another state…I will place a thin blue line flag on my house and store in town, in his memory and honor. God Bless all the loved ones who suffer the loss of a loved one.

  97. I stumbled upon your page while looking for ideas of how to celebrate the anniversary of my dad’s passing. This Monday will be one year since he left his body after a long and painful fight to stay alive. I dread that Monday may become a sad day for me where I’ll just want to hide away from everything. I realized last night that wouldn’t be fair to my kids and it’s certainly not how my dad would want me to spend the day. Trying to find ways to remember him with thoughts of happiness without letting the pain of missing him over come me.

  98. Tomorrow will be one year since my sister has passed away. I keep hearing “it gets easier” but when? I still have so many unanswered questions about her death I feel like I can’t move on. My family wants to celebrate tomorrow and not be depressed because my sister wouldn’t have wanted that, but how do you celebrate at a time like this? I just want to curl up in a ball and hide under my blankets and cry!

  99. I lost both my parents last year, they died 5 weeks, to the day, apart. Today is one year since my mother passed away from colon cancer and I still can’t believe she’s gone. I hope that next year I’ll be able to do something more meaningful but this year I had dinner with friends. I don’t feel strong enough to do things that remind me of my parents. I was in a deep depression for 9 months and just recently starting to feel normal again. To make this anniversary worse, I was supposed to cook dinner with my boyfriend of 6 years but he decided he would rather have beers with a friend. He didn’t even bother to tell me…..I waited for him for an hour and 45 minutes before he finally called. When I cried on the phone he said I “love drama” and I was ” making a big deal out of nothing”. Thank God for my friends, they stepped in when I needed them. My advice to anyone would be to surround yourself with those who love and support you. That’s what I plan on doing going forward.

  100. My husband Chas died 1 year ago today of bone cancer at home. It was 3:40 pm when he finally was lifted from a very hard death….I am trying to shake it off today. I find myself reliving every part of it. I read all the above comments with great gratitude for sharing. It is helping as I write this.

    • Oh Heidi, I am so sorry the anniversary was such a difficult day. I think people often underestimate that losing someone, especially after an illness, is a trauma. With that can come the common experience of reliving the loss and the pain of the illness. We have a lot of resources and ideas on this site for journaling, art and creative expression, etc than may help in processing some of these tough memories and emotions. If you find these do not get easier with time you may want to consider seeing a therapist who specializes in grief and trauma. Glad you found some comfort in the words here- hope you will continue to visit our site!

  101. Hello,today is the first year mark of when my boyfriends twin brother passed away. He took his own life, he had mental health problems and we have to believe it was the only way he could find peace. This entry has given me some lovely ideas to help them through. His parents are not good at talking about stuff and our not coping well. I just hope I can be strong for them, I don’t think it hits you how hard the day is going to be until it’s here xx

  102. Thank you very much for your article. Today is the one year anniversary of my wonderful mothers passing. I was with her until her very last breath holding her hand. For today I felt I wanted to do something but couldn’t think of what. I found your article as I looked for the connection with others about this confusion of not knowing quite how to handle such a painful “anniversary”. Her birthday is this month too. Your article was comforting.

    I have taken the day off work, lit some candles, bought a bouquet of flowers, put on her favorite music and eaten an ice cream for breakfast! (she loved ice cream). I had been doing a little better (i.e. a couple of good days a week) but during these days leading up to the one year a lot of the feelings of disbelief came back and reliving the anxiety of the days preceding her passing. I know there is no way around the pain of a day like today and I wanted to share with others who are also going through this incredibly painful first year.

    Thank you for having this blog site.

  103. Hello. I came across this post while looking to coping devices to help myself with the death- anniversary of my mom. It’s hard to believe its already been a year without her. Mother’s day was sunday and i think some of these helped me too. my mom died a year ago tomorrow. I was 14. I’ve dealt with major depression and suicidal thoughts since then.(i am currently on medication & going to therapy) I just wanted to thank you for writing this. It really helped me. one of hardest things i think about grief is realization. Sometimes there will be days when I come home from school.. And i open the door to my house (even though shes never been at the new house) for some reason i think shes gonna be there. but then it all comes rushing back to me. Like maybe i get great news and ill be SO excited that ill say i cant wait to tell my mom. but my moms not here. These ideas really seem to help. The thing im going to do is write out all my feelings or whatever i want onto paper and then rip it up and put it into a ballon and let it go. thats also a good idea.

  104. I stumbled across this blog as I try to figure out how to cope with the 1 year anniversary of my father’s sudden death. The anniversary of the last time I saw him, his death, and Father’s Day are all within a two week period. I feel like I have been plugging along and doing alright despite my grief during this past year, but feelings I didn’t realize were there are coming to the surface as I approach this heartbreaking anniversary. I’m just not sure how to get through each day without dissolving in tears multiple times, and my anxiety is sky high.

  105. Thank you very much for this post and to all those who commented as well. I have learned many good ideas for dealing with the 10 year anniversary of my father’s death, today May 1. Kate, like your father, mine enjoyed being outdoors as well. So I think that will be one of the things I will do, as well as watch an old, black and white, favorite movie of his, and cook his famous (and really yummy!) casserole. I miss you, Dad!!

  106. Kate,

    You’re right, crying is good and remembering fondly and experiencing joy is good. I hope you have a peaceful day and good weather for your hike.

    Eleanor

  107. Hi everyone,

    Hearing your stories is so inspiring to me. My father passed away four years ago tomorrow night. Even though it’s been four years, it’s still very hard. I find myself slacking in school work, not wanting to work and hardly wanting to socialize.

    But I can say with each year, it gets better. I slack a little less, talk more and do things to remember him. Usually every year on May 1st &/or 2nd I go on a hike, to a mountain or hilltop because he loved the outdoors. His ashes were spread in a river between two mountains in Montana.

    I’ve also gotten tattoos in remembrance of him, on the anniversary. This year, I will be going to the mountain or hilltop and just spend some time with him there.

    Thank you all for your comments, remember to do something that brings joy to your anniversary day, even if some tears fall it’s okay.

    1 Love-

  108. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. I have to say, I have always liked benches. Personally I think there is something so comforting about having a place to sit and feel close to those we’ve lost, and a bench is perfect for that. You can have a plaque engraved and put on the bench, so you could still incorporate words to him. Please let us know what you decide to do.

  109. Valinda,

    These are all great ideas. I am always a huge fan of a bench, maybe with a special quote or lyric engraved on it. Maybe some other readers have thoughts.

    Eleanor

  110. I lost my beautiful son last May 5th to suicide. He was 22, a good kind soul, had earned his Eagle Scout, was about to finish heating and havc school and was hoping to get married soon. I would not still be living if I didn’t have a daughter and husband…who are terribly sad as well.

    I’ve only been to his grave once…it’s 50 miles away, but I wanted him to be buried in the family cemetery with his grandparents who loved him so much.

    We still have not decided on what we want to do for his grave. He has a small marker, but I want it removed. Still dirt covers his precious place of burial.

    I want to do something special…out of the ordinary for hom and am struggling with ideas…..some include a bench, a guitar , a turtle a race car , an eagle….and most importantly something from me, his mom, embracing hotheads headstone with loving words. Can any of you help me refine..polish up these ideas? They all have special meanings.

  111. Hi Eleanor….thank you so much for this article. Today is 24 years since my beloved younger brother’s suicide and I am really struggling. I wonder why I have done better in prior years? Not sure, but I am in alot of pain this morning. I am grateful for your words, though.

  112. Ahhh my sister-in-law is from Penfield. If your worried about their reactions I think an e-mail might be the way to go. This way they have the time and space to think about it and get back you. Hopefully they will be receptive. Let us know what you end up doing.

  113. Dear Eleanor,

    Thank you so much for your advice and words of encouragement, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I like the idea of maybe putting it down in an email or text, since I am sort of a chicken about what my brothers’ reactions might be. I wholeheartedly agree the most important thing is us being together.

    I grew up in Penfield, NY. Born and raised in Rochester, NY until I graduated from high school.

    Thanks again for your guidance,

    Gwen

  114. Gwen,

    I can relate to being too far from your mothers grave, my mother is buried outside of Syracuse NY and the best I can do is visit her on the rare occasion I visit my sister who still lives there. BTW – where did you grow up in New York? I think the things you have thought of all sound good (Booooo to the Condo association though). I actually think your casino idea sounds great, but understand your reservation about your brothers. If they think this is too celebratory then I think the tree is probably the way to go.

    Honestly though the only way to make a plan that works for everyone is to open up the lines of communications,perhaps starting an e-mail chain with everyone included (or even a closed Facebook Group or good old fashioned phone call). Suggest a few ideas but emphasize that your flexible and the most important thing is finding a way for everyone to be together. If your brothers want to stay low key then another idea would be to plan a dinner, maybe with everyone bringing/making one of her favorite dishes or a dish that reminds you of her (even if it’s take out!). You can have people bring photos or memories of her or just set these out on your own.

    I have five brothers and sisters so I know how tough it can sometimes be to get on the same page, especially when everyone grieves differently. Let me tell you, I tried to do something the year after my mother died and no one was really with me. They were grieving differently and weren’t open to being open. I was so frustrated at the time but I understand now that I can’t expect others to feel the same way I do. That’s why I think the important thing is emphasizing that you just want to be together, no matter how big or small. I’m guessing just knowing the family was together would put a smile on your mother’s face.

    Let us know how it goes.
    Eleanor

  115. Melissa,

    I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow. Please don’t worry about focusing on yourself right now. It’s okay, normal, and expected. The important thing is for you to find peace and find ways to incorporate your mother’s memory into your every day life. This is one day of many where you want to honor her and remember her in a positive way, but it is hard and it is emotional and it takes time. You will get there.

    Eleanor

  116. I lost my mom as of a year ago on April 24th. She was/is mine and my brothers’ hero. Raising us from young children, on her own when my father passed away. She was the heart of our family and we all feel so broken from the loss. I struggle with how to honor her on the anniversary of her passing. I want to include my brothers (if they choose to join me for the day), I am looking into having a tree planted in a local park. I think that’s more for me. I inquired about planting a tree at her condo complex that she loved, but that was declined but the condo association. My mom enjoyed playing the slot machines, I thought about offering my brothers each a small amount of money so that we all might go gamble at a casino a few hours away on that day. I also thought about an Irish pub in the area because she always loved the Irish music, culture, etc. I worry that they may frown on these ideas because they may consider them to much like a celebration or fun. I know it’s important to honor and celebrate her life and that she would want that for us, but I don’t know how to do it or approach my family with it. I feel like what is most important is that we are together as a family on this day. What makes it a little more difficult is that we did a memorial service at my mom’s church locally but then in the summer we all traveled to our childhood home in upstate NY and did a second service where we buried her ashes with my father. These were her wishes and I was priviledged to honor them. I just feel now like we don’t have as much of a connection being that it isn’t feasible to travel to NY for her anniversary to visit the grave site and we didn’t retain any of her cremains in any of our homes. I am open to any suggestions. As the day gets closer, my heart grows heavier and heavier, a large part of me just wants to curl up and cry all day on that day, but as I am the eldest, I feel I have to find a way that will memorialize my mom in a more positive way and stay strong for my brothers. I already appreciate just having the chance to put this all down into words and welcome any suggestions or advice. Thank you. Gwen

  117. Thank you Eleanor for the advise. I think of her grave site as the last place that I “left her.” She is not there!!!! I don’t know yet, how I am going to deal with this. The next few days are a reminder of how she spent the last few days of her life. I (and my mama) am a God loving and trusting person in him, but my moms death is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. ME, ME , ME…. I feel as if I am making this about me!!!! It is about memorializing my Mama!!!…. I don’t know how to do this!!!

  118. Melissa,

    If you don’t feel like doing anything ‘celebratory’, that’s okay. You don’t have to make a big production out of the day, I would actually say most don’t. Don’t feel selfish, you have the right to grieve in any way you want. It is very normal to dread this day, the passage of time can sometimes make us feel even more sad because it puts more distance between us and the physical presence of our loved one. I would say go easy on yourself, take your time, but start to try and find some method of coping with these more difficult feelings. Understanding you don’t want to make a big production on the day, perhaps a good way to honor your mother and positive step towards dealing with your grief would be to try and visit your mothers grave site. You could go on your own or together with your father and others who loved your mother, prepare yourself to feel emotional and accept that this is okay. This is just a thought, if you want to keep brainstorming ideas let me know what direction you were hoping to go in on the day.

    Eleanor

  119. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your son, I lost my daughter Rachelle on March 23rd 2013 just shy of her 32nd birthday, I just celebrated the first anniversary of her passing, it was hard but I did things that reminded me of her, I donated to the local Humane Society in her name as she loved animals, I did a jigsaw puzzle that she enjoyed doing, I bought a helium balloon wrote her a poem and sent it to her. Her birthday is on April 8th and we will be celebrating at her favorite restaurant and sharing memories of her life. I understand the pain you are feeling the loss of a child is so painful. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  120. My heart grieves for your loss!! I can’t say I know what you are going through, because I have not lost a child. But I just want to tell you that I too will be grieving on April 8… It is the 1 year anniversary of my so, so, beloved Mama! I will be thinking of you and be keeping you in my prayers. The Lord is with you!

  121. I feel lost! The one year anniversary of my Mama’s going to be with the Lord is on April 8. I don’t know what to do on this day. I am grateful and Thankful to have had her as my mom and in this life, but I don’t know if I am in the celebrating mood to honor her wonderful life. I feel selfish! I am fortunate and thankful to still have my father, who adored and Loved my mama (his wife of over 50 years). But I still am having a hard time facing her death, I haven’t been able to even go to her grave site. I am not crazy… or in denial… I just don’t know how to handle these feelings of lose, and I am having a hard time with the fact that it is going on 1 year. To me, it feels like forever. Please give me advise. Thank you!

  122. Hey Ariana,

    I am so sorry to hear about the death of your great grandma! It depends what kind of thing you want to do. Since you mentioned your outfit, there are limitations of a uniform, but if you want to show off your pink you could consider pink headbands, nail polish, and socks, if that is allowed.

    This will sound crazy, but I have found a lot of comfort in baking in memory of people I have loved and lost. Baking my grandmothers cookies, baking my dad’s favorite cake, etc. If there is some food that reminds you of your grandmother you could make it (or, heck, buy it!).

    There is a ton of great memorial jewelry that might be another great way to honor your grandmother. If you go on etsy.com you can find a ton of great options and probably have time to have custom options made before April 30th.

    You also could do something in her memory. You could volunteer somewhere that your grandmother cared about. If you wanted to do something at school, you could do something in her memory to raise awareness about breast cancer. You could hand out breast cancer candy with information about breast cancer so people know about it. Someone I was very close to died of an overdose. I wanted to do something for overdose awareness day, and also really struggled with what to do. I wrote a post about it, which you can check out here in case there is any inspiration! https://whatsyourgrief.com/putting-good-world-overdose-awareness-day-memorial/

    Hope something here was at least a little helpful! If I come up with any other ideas I’ll let you know!

  123. The 1 year anniversary of my great grandma Nana’s death is coming up and I need help! She died from her 3rd time with breast cancer and I want to do something! I attend a uniform school, so I can’t show up on April 30th in a pink outfit! Please help me! Ps-she is not buried yet, she is cremated but her husband was in the navy before he died when I was a baby and she needs to be buried on top of him.

  124. Karen,

    I’m so sorry about the death of your son. I imagine you still have so many tough days and the anniversary can be one of the most real and raw no matter how many years have past. You have been through 2 of these anniversaries already, what have you done in the past? What did work and what didn’t? Have you ever tried any specific remembrances on this day? Are you feeling up to something like this this year or are you just trying to make it through? I know nothing can take away the pain of this day, but perhaps we can pinpoint what will bring you the most meaning and comfort.

    Eleanor

  125. The third anniversary of losing my 15 year old son to suicide is coming up, April 8th and I am having a really hard time having to face this day! I don’t know what to do……… My grief over what happened still haunts me terribly. Any advise on how to cope with this dreadful day Ann or others. Lost mom

  126. Angela,

    Thank your counselor for connecting us! I’m sorry about your parents deaths, I can’t image dealing with two sudden losses one right after another. I hope some of the information we have is helpful here and if there is anything specific you ever want us to address, just let us know.

    Eleanor

  127. Thank you so much for this! My counselor just told me about this site. April 23 will be 10 years for my Dad, August was 12 for my Mom and i still have problems with their loss everyday!!! My Mom was truly my best friend and we lost her suddenly and i was Daddy’s little girl and he died in a freak accident at work.

  128. Thank you so much for this. I lost my brother little over a year ago and this helped.

    • My sister our father pass on her husdand birthday.
      The problem I’m having is my sister husband has pass also
      What to do

  129. It’s so not a common name at ALL + this was the 1st time I ever googled 1st year anniversary of mothers death in my life…in such a grief stricken moment + all of a sudden her name is flashing before my eyes on the 1st link I clicked? I wailed crying in such a cathartic way that I felt it was a sure sign of comfort from her. But it didn’t end there. The next morning I checked my Twitter + only one new follow had followed me for that entire day. The name that was flashing before my eyes again was EVY in the companies logo. I was blown away? That’s what everyone called my mother. If there really are ADC’s (after death communications) through electronics as they say; it felt like much more than a coincidence on both fronts. Thanks again.

  130. Wow Renee, that does seem like more than a coincidence! Especially because it’s not the most common name. Evelyn was my mother’s name and it is also my eldest daughters, who I was pregnant with when my mom died. I’m sorry about your mother’s death, the one year anniversary is tough.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment…that gives me chills as well.

    Eleanor

  131. Hello, who was Evelyn? You’re mother? My mom’s one year anniversary is on April 1st, and this past Saturday I was so grief-stricken with missing her that I Googled 1 year anniversary of mothers death + your article was the first one that came up I believe, so I clicked on it. I was astonished to see the name EVELYN in big bold letters half way down the article.

    My mothers name was Evelyn, and I was blown away by the mere coincidence of seeing her name flash before me in print that I truly believe it was some sort of sign. Thanks

  132. Thank you so much.

  133. Our thoughts are with you tomorrow (Sunday). I’m sorry about your mother’s illness and subsequent passing. I am sure you have missed her quite a lot over this last year. It sounds like you have a pretty good plan for the anniversary and I hope the day is one of peace. We’re here for you for as long as you need us; we know, anniversaries, birthday’s, etc are always a big deal.

  134. Thank you for this post and for the community. Sunday is my mom’s birthday (she would have been 70) and April 12 is the one-year anniversary of her death from ALS. This time last year I spent 5 weeks at her home caring for her until she died. We filled the house with daffodils for her birthday because that was her favorite flower, so I have some on the table. On April 12 I plan to have a nice meal of her favorite foods, use her favorite table cloth, look at photos of her and tell stories about her. Someone gave me a Yarhzeit candle so I will light that and say a prayer. I know that these anniversaries are a big deal even though I feel like most people want me to be “over it.” This community really helps to validate that it is a big deal. I appreciate it very much.

  135. Thanks for this post. On St Patrick’s day it will be the one year anniversary of my mother’s death. She was sick for a long time and lived with my family. She died at our home surrounded by her family. I only have 2 brothers left. The eldest died the year before from cancer. The rest of us don’t see each other much-didn’t before. With the 1 year anniversary coming up I’m fighting feelings of grief, loneliness, defeat, no sense of purpose and overwhelming sadness. My hubby wants to take the day off and spend it with me, but I have no idea what I want to do if anything! Thank you for the ideas and none I choose are wrong!

  136. Thank you! I’ve dealt with my own grief in my own ways, be it good or bad. I guess helpful or not, would be the right way to put it.

    I came searching today because an old friend is going to hit the 1 year mark of his wife’s passing tomorrow. I want to try to help him. She was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after their first and only child was born. He worked full time, took care of her, the house the child…you name it, for about 20 years. That baby just got accepted in to medical school last week!

    So, thank you for your help, insight and list. I have a few things now that I will talk about that can hopefully ease him through tomorrow and the future.

    Peace and prayers to all.

  137. My Daughter passed away last year on March 23rd, at the age of 31, her one year anniversary is coming up soon, an I really appreciate the list you have, it has given me some great ideas. She was not only my daughter but my best friend. Thank you!!!

    *** Forbidden. Need manually approve. Request number 4d93582c87973640855b514275014ea0. Antispam service cleantalk.org. ***

  138. Thank you so much. I appreciate the time that you put into gathering the helpful comments. It is wonderful to have such a great resource available to help transition through the difficult times. Thank you again.

  139. So I asked this over on Facebook and got a few good suggestions.

    “We have a walk every year…we have shirts that the students can purchase and a bake sale…all money goes into a scholarship for kids who can’t afford to go to Camp in the Fall with our fourth grade class. His family always attends.”

    “My son’s first birthday, since his death, passed recently. We had a quiet dinner at home. We wrote notes to him which we taped on helium balloons (1 for each of us). We each held a cupcake w a candle and stood outside in a circle. We sang Happy Birthday then blew out our candles and released our balloons. Not too Eco-friendly, I know, but it worked for us.”

    “We all had dinner and as soon as it got dark we released the Japanese floating lanterns. It was out own version of sending candles to heaven.”

    This was a really good questions and I think I am going to get started on an actual post addressing this.

  140. This is a good question. I’m going to think about this for a few and get back to you. In the mean time I’ve also asked our readers over on Facebook for some suggestions to see if anyone has done anything special that turned out well.

  141. Do you have any suggestions for new traditions for honoring the anniversary of a child’s death? Specifically to support healthy grief for the siblings?

  142. Thanks so much! I am off to research – will let you know what I end up with 🙂

  143. Hi Debbie, it is so thoughtful you are trying to find something perfect for the memorial. We have a post on things to send instead of flowers for a funeral, and there may be some helpful ideas there https://whatsyourgrief.com/what-to-send-instead-of-flowers/

    On that list is a memorial ‘guestbook’ and I always think something like that is very nice. You could order the one we have listed, or create your own. Each page allows people there to share their favorite memory of the person, a message to their family, etc. If you created one yourself, it could include whatever you want- favorite memory, things her mom taught people that still carry on, etc. This way you could fill out a page, then at the memorial everyone there could take time to fill out a page.

    Also, there is a lot of neat memorial jewelry online. Etsy is a great place to look for really unique, customizable options.

    Let us know what you end up deciding to do!

  144. Hi, I am going to a “one year memory gathering” for my best friend’s Mum…my best friend is hosting. We’re not sure what we’ll be doing yet, there will be about 10 people there, a mix of ages. I’d like to do something nice for my friend too, but she already has photo collages, flowers, all the usual stuff…I want to do something to let her know I care, and that I haven’t forgotten her Mum. Any ideas?
    Thanks 🙂

  145. Mary, good idea. I am sorry about your sons death. I hope you and your daughters find comfort in one another on Saturday. Have you come up with an idea of what to incorporate into the day?

  146. It will be the first year of my son going to heaven,I have 8daughters we are getting together this Saturday in celebration ,I am trying to think of some thing to are that we can add to every year I his honor

  147. I’m sorry Kym, it sounds like you’ve been dealing with a lot all on your own. If you don’t have to part with the rest of her belongings, then don’t. It sounds like you’ve given away what you could at this point, and that’s a job well done. I know it can be so frustrating to hear people say over and over – “let me know what I can do” or “I’m here if you need anything”. Sometimes its hard to know exactly what you need and even harder to actually ask. We wrote this post about identifying needs and asking for help that might be helpful -https://whatsyourgrief.com/support-system-superlatives-a-journaling-exercise/ I hope something on our site is helpful.

  148. Kelsey,

    I’m so sorry about your uncle. I’m sure his death has been devastating to your family. I do hope some of the suggestions were helpful, but of course your uncle was a special man who will inspire unique ways of being remembered. I hope your memorial service goes well. Let us know if there’s anything more specific we can help with.

    Eleanor

  149. This information was very helpful, on February 6, 2014 it will be the 2nd Anniversary for my beloved mother. I have no siblings and I have been on an emotional roller coaster. I have shared some of my mother’s belongings with her close friends and donated some to my church. We shared a home together and I can’t seem to depart with the rest
    Family is not close. I’ve heard, just let me know what I can do and I will be there so many times

  150. My uncle was recently murdered and it’s been the most terrible experience of my life. I hate having to look for these kinds of ideas but I know that they’ll help. He was such a unique person that I feel some of these do not apply to honoring him to the fullest. Although I have found some to be very helpful and I might just use them at his memorial service next month. Thank you.

  151. Chris, I’m so sorry. I think it’s okay to avoid your home for this one day out of the year. Only 10 and 1/2 hours to go!! (if your on the east coast)

  152. Todays the day. I am currently out with friends and afraid to go home. I was at home five years again when I got the terrible phone call. Not sure if it is healthy to avoid my home.

  153. Thank you for this blog. In a couple of days its going to be my sons first anniversary as an angel in Heaven.
    I feel that i have lost him few days ago. The pain is unbearable.
    I am making a gathering to all his friends, teachers and everyone he touched with his warm smile and loving kind heart.

    I planned to sell cookies ( to donate to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he was treated. Also there will be tattooing, but i don’t know what other things I can do.

    I will get helium balloons in red, and release them at the time he became an angel.

    I will also try to play a slide show of him.
    His friends will colour rocks and put them around the tree his school planted by his name. the tree is in the school play ground.

    please let me know if you have anymore ideas to make it a special event.

  154. Louisa, I’m so ridiculously glad do hear you’ve found a few of our suggestions helpful. It sounds like bull (but it’s not!) Litsa and I truly feel validated knowing even one person has found something on this blog beneficial. Thank you so much for forwarding to others and thanks for coming back.

  155. Oh Ann, I’m so sorry about your son’s death. When is the anniversary of his passing? Come back and ask for an ideas reminder, we’ll make sure to come up with some good ones!

    • It’s nice to know other parents dealing with the same thing I just found this blog today, the anniversary of my daughters death January 8th and I understand that pain of losing a child. Just reading these comments has given me much comfort today 🙂 thank you ❤️

  156. Celeste,

    That is SO sweet of your husband. How thoughtful! Plus 10 points for him. Thank you for your condolences, after 7 years I’ve realized I’ll never stop grieving for my mother but now it takes the shape of things like you said – watching certain movies, laughing, joking.

    Eleanor

    • Silvie Argiro PantsiosNovember 24, 2016 at 1:57 amReply

      Today marked 10 years since my mom passed, November 23rd. Her name was also Evelyn! I just feel like I had to comment, your post definitely helped.

  157. Today is my grandmother’s birthday, and I didn’t even realize that I was doing what we lovingly refer to as “channelling Gradndma” last night. I spent some time rearranging furniture and organizing my space, which is something she would always do, I think as a way of clearing her mind. When I brought this up to my husband, he suggested that maybe we turn this into an actual tradition, since it seems to be something that I just naturally do anyway. What a thoughtful thing for him to suggest! Being able to celebrate one of her idiosyncracies is exactly what I needed.

    My sister and I watch certain movies on our mom’s remembrance days. And we gossip. It helps us feel closer to her. 😉

    Also, I am so sorry about your mom’s passing. I hope you are doing well and are surrounded by wonderfully supportive people.

  158. I have forgotten those kinds of days, too. But I have forgotten birthdays etc since I was a kid. I have had a hard time dealing with the suicide of my son 11 years ago. I appreciate the ideas, but by next year, I’m afraid I will have forgotten them, too.

    • Terri Mullen CollinsApril 20, 2016 at 9:40 pmReply

      I was married to a wonderful man named Donnie Mullen. Died the same way. I’m blessed to have his 2 amazing sons, Stephen and Bruce Mullen.

    • Hi Ann Mullen,

      I too lost my mom to suicide now 17 years ago yesterday and the pain and the trauma comes back to haunt me every year, so none of these suggestions will work for me. Its a deep sadness no one can explain.

  159. Thank you so much for this list. It’s been two years since my husband has been gone. So glad I discovered your blog. I’ve used most of your suggestions for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and for just any day that I choose. All of the suggestions have really helped me to get through each day. I always forward your blog to others who are grieving or helping those who are grieving. Thank you.

    • Thank you so very much and I sorry to hear about your lose. In about a half hour it will mark the first year without my mother. Thank you.

      • I just happened to this site, my mom’s 1yr is 3/1 and my dad isn’t good company. yalls comments made me not feel alone.

      • Tomorrow will mark one year since my Mother died. This blog helped me to plan for Mom tomorrow. Thank you

      • Thanks for this post, it makes me feel so much less alone. 9/28 marks a year that my birth mother has been gone. I don’t know how I’m going to feel or be on that day. But good to know Im not alone.

    • My older brother killed himself two years ago today and my life has been ruined since. Never gets easier only more painful
      Thank you

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