Spend a Day Like Your Loved One on Their Deathiversary

The anniversary of my mother’s death, or her “deathiversary”, is closing in on me. I usually count on the foliage and cool fresh air to tip me off, but the beginning of Fall was so unseasonably warm this year, I hardly noticed.

These last few days, though, they’ve played their part well, bringing a dark, wet, coldness that is unmistakenly autumn. For me, they also bring pangs of grief as I’m transported back in time to October 2006 – the season in which my mother died, and when I learned what it is to grieve.

So much has happened these last 13 years, and yet, some days, it feels like my mother died just yesterday. I still miss her and the way life felt before she died; when living without her was merely a scenario I shuddered to consider.

It was hard to believe then that life could go on without her. She was the sun, and my siblings and I were planets in her orbit. Without her, we had no idea how to continue existing.

But somehow we did.

As her sun faded and became a star, we found comfort knowing that, even though she was more distant than we’d ever like, she would always be present in the night sky. And bit by bit, we moved forward, we realigned, and we learned to love her despite her physical absence.

I’ve been through my mother’s deathiversary quite a few times now, and each year I’ve felt compelled to honor her memory differently. Maybe this is a reflection of where I am in life, or perhaps because my relationship with her memory changes as I grow older.

To be honest, this year I thought I’d probably just coast through October. I have a new baby at home, which makes me feel connected to my mother with every snuggle and lullaby-song. But then my sister mentioned the fall weather was making her sad, and I started thinking – if I were going to recognize her deathiversary, what would I do?

I started with the obvious by asking myself, what would I do if I spent the day doing things that made me feel close to mom? Things she liked to do, things that were unique to her, things I remember about her – the big stuff and the smaller stuff. I started a mental list:

“Play the piano…watch old movies on TCM…go to Wegmans…fold laundry on the living room floor…take my kids to the mall for an Orange Julius.”

I wondered if my siblings would have the same thoughts or if they would spend their hypothetical day doing different things, so I messaged them and asked. The conversation started out with some of the things I had already thought of, but then we got more and more specific as we went on…

“Pick kids up the kids just late enough that they end up having to wait with a teacher or coach… 
Get mad at my brother for interrupting the end of a movie…
Ask someone to start a Word document and then call them back to save the document when finished…
Get sucked into a good book…
Do a child’s homework for them…
Fall asleep with one of the kids at night…
Show a child, any child, unconditional patience and care…

Remembering the little quirks and qualities that we loved about her gave me so much joy. By the end of the conversation, I was laughing through tears. We won’t actually do all these things – maybe one or two – or maybe even none – but it was so comforting just to think about.

I was reminded that this is how we went on living after my mother died – we wove her memory in the fabric of our every day lives. We remember the little things that made her who she was and we repeat the things that help make us the people we are today.

So…I’m sharing this with you because I was thinking how nice it would be to learn what other people would do if they spent a day like their loved one – doing the things they loved, getting annoyed by the things they loathed, embracing their eccentricities, etc. You don’t have to actually do any of it – just imagine it – and don’t stop until you’ve remembered at least one thing that makes you smile.

Share your hypothetical day in the comments below or on WYG’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 
October 18, 2019

15 responses on "Spend a Day Like Your Loved One on Their Deathiversary"

  1. After my Mom died, I realized that using the phrase, sorry for your loss was wrong. Now, I will say, remember the person who left us is Free of Pain and suffering no matter the age of the one who left us. First time I did this, it was to a son/grown. Me: Your Mom was a wonderful person to have met. The son smiled. Try to be creative and if you did know the person, say something more positive. Sure, I miss my Mom however I know she would not want me to be depressed and sad. Holidays are rough when your old and have no one left however carry on and find someone who would enjoy your company.

  2. I lost my son and only child 9 1/2 years ago.
    May is the most challenging month for me because the last time I saw him was on Mother’s Day and a week later he was killed in an accident. I’ve struggled with different ways to spend the anniversary of his death but have finally settled on a way that feels right to me. My son was a tremendously loving and generous person and always enjoyed the concept of “paying it forward “. So I decided the best way to honor him would be to continue on with his giving spirit. I try to practice this daily but particularly on his death anniversary. The last several years on this awful day, I have purchased about a hundred bunches of sunflowers. I take them to a very poor neighborhood in my city and anonymously lay a bouquet on each doorstep. Or, if people are walking on the street, I just hand them a bouquet of sunflowers, and am met with a huge smile of thanks. People sometimes come out of their houses to tell me that I’ve made their day. I always have a silent conversation with my son and I just feel like he’s smiling down on me. It helps me get through a very challenging day plus it brightens the day for people who often don’t have much to smile about. My hope is that the good deeds are just passed on in one way or another. That’s what my boy would like. 😌

  3. I avoid making a fuss on painful anniversaries, why keep bringing up that pain every year because the calendar tells us to. I think about my parents everyday but refuse to get taken down on those sad days, it’s a fools errand. My parents lived full and long lives, every human dies and I knew their time would come, it did and I refuse to get taken down based on the dates.

  4. Before my son Austin died, he told me, “Mom, after I die, I want you to not be sad on that day. That will be my second birthday. First, I was born here, and now when I die, I’ll be born there, back in Heaven. So, don’t be sad, have my second birthday, and be happy that I will be out of pain.” How can you argue with that? So, every year, we celebrate Austin’s “special days,” and we do things that an innocent, sheltered, sickly, overprotected, 14-year-old boy did things. And we have a blast. Three hundred sixty-three other days of the year, my heart is broken, and I miss my baby. But, I would never want him back, he is not in pain. I can handle this.

  5. Not only on the anniversary, I have memorial donuts, memorial awkward quiet times and even memorial bacon on occasion. I draw the line well before memorial Vicodin though.

  6. It’s two years since my brother died on my birthday. I am learning to share the day. I light a candle and say a prayer for him, spend time in nature which he loved, make a donation and also do something joyous to celebrate my birthday. He would have wanted it that way. I miss him terribly. This year was not as devastating as the first death anniversary. But the feelings are still intense and begin weeks before the death date and linger for awhile after. Isn’t this all part of the process of seemingly endless adjustment to the new normal of permanent loss?

  7. In October I have the unenviable opportunity to remember the deathiversaries of both my mom and my dad, one week apart. Before their deaths, October was my favorite month. Now it’s been marked by remembering their deaths. I instinctively gravitate to things that remind me of them. This year, on my mom’s going home anniversary, I spent it in a school, with kids. She always enjoyed being with children, more so than adults. Then a week later, I remembered my dad’s homegoing by going to the State Fair of Texas to remember his never ending search for fun. You name it, he was there, carnivals, fairs, zoo, circuses, he took us all the all of them. I miss them both terribly, but I honor them better than sharing their love with those they loved the most, in the ways they loved the most.

  8. It has been five years since my Mom went home to be with the Lord. I miss her very much but I have awesome memories of me and her together. I have 6 sisters and 3 brothers 9 in all. One of the things that always make me smile is going by her house after I get off from work to watch Perry Mason and here her tell me stories about the family. I would laugh and fall asleep some time. On another occasion, I had come down with a bad cold and I went to stay with her for a whole week and she cooked every day for me and we watch old tv shows. Smiling and remembering great times with her. A year before she died 4 of the siblings went to her house early to celebrate thanksgiving with her and it was so much fun. Thank you so much for asking what would you do on a love one death anniversary? Great question that posture one to remember great things about your loved one.
    Blessings

  9. It’s been exactly three months since my Mom passed, and I’m still in disbelief. The trail of memories are endless, especially at night in bed thinking of her love of clothes, the little scarves she tied around her neck, playing the piano, sending me emails each day, cooking in the kitchen saying she was another Julia Child, etc.

    I miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom of her advice, and the joy she gave to others. I simply miss her, that’s all.

  10. My mom and dad’s birthdays are three days apart. The year she died, we flew to Florida (my dad’s homestate) to run away from home but also to spend the whole day on the beach, mom’s (and my) favorite place. My dad’s birthday went okay, he got to see several of my cousins whom he had not seen in a long time. Then mom’s birthday came …. it poured until late afternoon. (We plan, God laughs). We did get to the beach for sunset, but waiting for that rain to stop made for a really, really long day.

  11. I got this story this morning and it is the one year anniversary of my husband of 51 years passing. I watched videos and photos of my husband this morning thinking about better times and than spent the day shopping and getting ready for a ‘remembrance ‘ evening with my friends and family tomorrow evening. We are going to say a poem and a prayer and each one toss a white rose into our marina, I live in Florida. I am making some of his favorite foods and desserts.
    Today however my one daughter decided that we should have a little laughter in our lives this evening and booked tickets to see a comedian.

  12. Sometimes hard to believe that this December will mark eight years since my mother died.
    It’s funny, the first image of what to do on her Deathiversary would be to go to the beach, sit in a comfortable chair looking out the window at the view, knit and drink coffee (later switching to a gin and tonic). It’s a solo weeklong retreat she would annually take by herself – which raised the eyebrows of her co-workers, who found it hard to understand why she would want to go by herself, without her husband.

  13. It will be one year on November 14th since my mom, my best friend, died unexpectedly. But on her birthday this year I invited friends through Facebook to remember her in a similar way: by telling someone a favorite joke, rocking or smiling at a baby, singing a song. These are all things that I have incorporated into my life intentionally this year, and they have helped me to feel connected to the amazing person she was.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your “Spend a Day Like Your Loved One On Their Deathiversay.” It helps me thinking of my grieving my mother who passed away a little one year ago. I miss her everyday. For me, when I eat a vegetarian meal, love a pet, take a walk, I think of my mother and her same activities. I also plan to grow a red rose vine to honor her. Her red rose vines died with her passing…
    Thank you for your courage and your grace to share your grieving process of your Mother.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your “Spend a Day Like Your Loved One On Their Deathiversay.” It helps me thinking of my grieving my mother who passed away a little one year ago. I miss her everyday. For me, when I eat a vegetarian meal, love a pet, take a walk, I think of my mother and her same activities.
    Thank you for your courage and your grace to share your grieving process of your Mother.

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