You’ve now survived the first year after losing your loved one. You may have thought at times that you’d never make it through. On this day, you might be thinking, “I should be feeling better by now.” But, the truth is, there are no time standards for grieving a loss. Some people, at this point, report feeling more emotional pain because the reality of their loss really sets in at the one-year mark.
While not everyone finds this anniversary especially hard, many find their grief to be more intense around this time. If this is true for you, we want to assure you that you are not moving backward. Your reaction is entirely normal. Grieving has no timeline, and no one’s grief journey is a straight line – quite the opposite. While we wish we would feel just a bit better every day, the grief process is messy and irregular.
We know the pain is still there and are thinking of you. You are not forgotten! We also know you certainly are not “over it” yet, as many seem to think one should be after one year.
You may choose to acknowledge this day in some way – to remember and honor your loved one. Whatever you do is right for you. No pressure. You can stay in bed in your pajamas if you want to.
Below are some suggestions if you want to use this occasion to remember them. These can be bittersweet times as you remember them, which is good, but you feel the pain, which is hard. Activities like these do help with the grieving process if you are ready.
Here are some ways to remember loved ones on their anniversary of death:
1. Visit their grave or resting place
The traditional way to commemorate a loved one’s passing on their anniversary is to go to their place of last rest. Think about bringing flowers, and make time to think about your loved one, your time together, and your love for them. You may or may not want to be with others who are grieving the same loss.
2. Write them a letter
It might be relieving to put your feelings and thoughts on paper. It may give the impression that you are communicating with them, which feels good. You can write about how much you miss them, and about the past year’s events and how it has been without them. This is Ron’s favorite activity, and he writes a letter every year on the anniversary of DeeAnn’s death. I
3. Look Through Photographs
Look through old photographs or watch old videos of your loved one. Bring lots of tissues.
4. Listen to Their Favorite Song
If your loved one had a favorite song or songs, play them! You might even create a playlist of songs they loved or that remind you of them and set aside some time to listen.
5. Volunteer for a Favorite Cause of Theirs
Consider spending part of the day volunteering for a cause your loved one cherished.
6. Make Their Favorite Meal
If your loved one had a favorite dish or meal, make it in their memory and invite others to join you.
7. Light a Candle
Whether at home or a house of worship, light a candle in memory of your loved one. While it burns, you might pray for them or reflect on a special memory.
8. Visit a Meaningful Place
If you and your loved one had a favorite restaurant, or a favorite place or have fond memories of a trip to a particular place, you might want to go there on this anniversary. You can remember the times you had there with your loved one.
9. Set a Place for Them at the Table
Consider setting a place for your loved one at the table. If you’re eating with others who are affected by the loss, ask if those with you are open to sharing memories around the table.
10. Spend the Day Like They Would
How might they spend a day? Maybe you want to dedicate the day to doing things they liked to do.
Invite Others to Share This With You
All these ideas can be done with others who are also affected by the loss, if you would like to include them. If there are children affected, asking them what they might like to do to remember your loved one can be a great way to practice some healthy grieving today. We’ve found that some children have very great ideas and powerful suggestions.
Remember, these are just suggestions. You don’t have to do anything.
Feel whatever comes up for you. Don’t fight it. This is part of grieving. This may or may not be a super tough day. Give yourself grace. Figure out who you might want to be with or who you don’t want to be with on this day.
We care about you. We remember how hard this date was and want to remind you not to take this journey alone.