Death anniversaries can be difficult, especially the first year after a loss. It may be challenging figuring out how to mark the occasion while dealing with the grief and pain it brings. But looking for ways to keep your loved one’s memory alive can be a healing part of your grief journey. Here are some ideas to help you mark the one-year anniversary of your loved one’s death in a way that honors their memory.
1. A Special Meal
Hosting a meal to honor your loved one is a nice way to bring people together. It can offer them comfort and support. Making your loved one’s favorite meal or cuisine can be meaningful. A potluck is one idea that will allow everyone to pitch in, and not have too much responsibility rest on one person on such a difficult day. Having a theme that has something to do with your loved one’s favorite food, restaurant, or holiday can be a nice way to honor them with others who loved them.
2. Revisit a Special Place
Visiting one of your loved one’s favorite spots, or a spot that was meaningful to both of you, can be a special way to honor their memory. This does not need to be a destination or vacation spot, although it absolutely can be. It can be as simple as a park, a restaurant, café, or trail. Bringing a journal and jotting down memories and feelings can be a helpful tool as emotions come up on this difficult day.
3. Do Good in Their Name
One way you can honor a loved one’s memory on this anniversary is by doing something charitable in their name. If your loved one was passionate about a particular charity or cause, finding a volunteer event in that area or raising funds for that group can be a great way to commemorate the day. Or, you can look for a way to give back to the local community they loved. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local food pantry in their honor. Another idea is to organize a run or walk in their memory. If your loved one was taken by a disease, it could be a run or walk fundraiser to raise money for awareness or to fund research related to that particular disease.
4. Plant a Memorial Tree
If the person you are honoring loved the outdoors, nature, or gardening, planting a memorial tree can be a special way to celebrate their life and honor their memory. There are even companies that offer eco-friendly urns that can be planted with your special tree. Invite loved ones to attend a memorial tree planting ceremony on this one year anniversary. People can share memories, stories, and all lend a hand in planting the tree.
5. Create a Memory Book with Photos
A nice way to mark the anniversary of a loved one’s death is to create a memory book with photos. You can ask family and friends to contribute some favorite photos of your loved one. With many online photo sites, you can produce multiple copies of a photo book, making a special keepsake for all the friends and family involved.
6. Visit Your Loved One’s Final Resting Place
Taking a visit with family and friends to your loved one’s final resting place is a meaningful way to pay respects. When visiting a gravesite you can bring flowers and have each person with you say a few words. If your loved one was cremated and their ashes were scattered at a special location, you can visit the site together. If possible, you could bring a picnic and share your favorite stories and memories of your loved one.
7. Light a Memorial Candle
Lighting a candle in honor of a loved one is a special way to commemorate the anniversary of their passing. Candles can invoke a sense of calm, and can be a metaphor, symbolizing the memory of your loved one burning bright. Additionally, you can say a prayer, have a moment of silence while reflecting on what the person meant to you, or share this ritual with loved ones. If your loved one had a favorite scent, you could use a scented candle that reminds you of them.
There is no right or wrong way to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a loved one’s death. You may just need a day to stay peaceful and practice self-care. It can be a painful day, so make sure you seek out needed support. Do not push yourself beyond what you are ready for. Choose an activity that sounds the most meaningful to you, and one that you feel comfortable doing. Then you can have peace knowing you are spending this anniversary in a way that feels right to you. If you feel alone or isolated, there are many resources available to help you through this hard day. Visit Found and Sons’ Grief & Healing page for online support resources, and access to grief education with our Executive Counseling Director, Dr. Virginia Simpson.