The anniversary of a loved one’s death can be a very emotional period, as the passing of time and the rolling on of the lives around you brings feeling of loss into sharp focus.
But the passing of time is inevitable, and even as the years pass, enduring the anniversary of the death of someone you loved can feel like being stuck in a cruel loop of grief with no escape.
But creating a tradition or activity on the anniversary a great strategy to commemorate and celebrate the life of your loved one while giving your grief an outlet and in some cases, bring good out of a difficult time. Remember, however you plan to honour the anniversary of your loved one’s death, the day is as much about you managing your grief as it is remembering their life, so be kind to yourself.
Gathering to remember and reflect
Creating a tradition with family and friends around the anniversary of your loved one is a great way to offer mutual support to all the people feeling the loss. As with a funeral service, people often find comfort and solace knowing others are feeling the same way in a mutually supportive environment. You may like to gather at you dad’s favourite watering hole for a drink and a meal or take the boat out for the day just like your uncle used to. You might have a gathering in mum’s special garden or just find a peaceful place in nature where a group can gather to reminisce and maybe share a picnic. The key here is having other people around you who understand how you are feeling and most likely feel a similar loss. These gatherings can reinforce family bonds and keep the memory of your loved one alive through shared stories and anecdotes.
Visiting your loved one’s final resting place
Many people feel compelled to visit their loved one’s final resting place on the anniversary of their death, whether at a cemetery, memorial garden or wherever their ashes were scattered. If they were buried, it could become an annual tradition to take flowers to the grave and give it a little tidy up while spending some quiet time thinking of them and the memories you shared. Visiting the headland, forest, or park when your loved one’s ashes were scattered can be a calming experience, particularly if the place is one where your loved one enjoyed visiting in life. Don’t be afraid to ask for a friend or relative to join you on your visit for support.
Start a memorial project
If you have the energy and the drive, turning a sad and lonely day into a positive in memory of your loved one is a fantastic idea for coping when the anniversary of their death comes around. Starting a memorial project like a memorial garden in your backyard or with permission somewhere in the community significant to them like a club or school or holding an annual fundraiser to raise money
for a significant charity like cancer research or heart health might be just the shift in energy needed to bring some good and happiness on an otherwise tragic day. Each year on the anniversary you can look to grow the project, pouring effort and focus into something your loved one would have appreciated or something that may benefit others in similar circumstances. Channeling your grief into good is a positive way to ensure the memory of your loved one is never lost.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to remember your loved one by preparing the traditional meals they used to make for the family. Get your hands on grandma’s lasagna recipe or dad’s ‘famous’ barbecue basting sauce and incorporate some of their passion for food in the gathering of family and friends to remember them. If your loved one was known for their love of cooking or home brew concoctions, it might be nice to honour their memory while making new memories, with some of their favourite fare. If you can’t get your hands on their original recipe, don’t be too concerned. Getting the dish or brew not quite right will only serve to remember how special their presence was to your family.
Remembering from afar
Enduring the regularity of a loved one’s death anniversary can be debilitating. There’s nothing wrong with opting for a more diversional approach – grab a friend, siblings or your kids and make it your memorial tradition to go somewhere – either somewhere you loved to go with your lost relative or friend, or somewhere completely different to create a diversion. As upsetting as it may be, their life may have ended but yours doesn’t have to – so get out there and explore – you will probably still feel sad, alone and in the depths of your grief, but changing up the scenery can have a positive impact on your emotions and how well you manage the day.
Stay home and do familiar things
Listening your loved one’s music collection, watching a movie you used to enjoy together, being at home, surrounded in the memories you made together is another way people mark the anniversary of their loved one’s death. Contrary to society’s need for ‘getting on with it’, if you feel like sitting around the house wearing your deceased husband’s boxer shorts or lying where your teenager once lay listening to their favourite music, you should be able to do so. It’s OK to be sad – you probably will be – and its ok to feel comfort in familiarity. But maybe at the end of the day organize something nice, like a cuppa with a friend or dinner at a relative’s house to remind you that you don’t need to carry the burden of your grief alone.
Give your grief a voice
Writing down your feelings, or journaling about the day or the person you have lost may be a way to both remember and honor your loved one and manage your grief on the day. Paint a picture or make some music. You may like to spend the day reading old correspondence from or about the person, or compiling, organizing or just enjoying photos from happier times when you were together. Sometimes it’s nice to do these things alone, but if other family members are feeling the
way you are, this could become a lovely activity where you might shed some tears abut also some laughs. Taking the time to sit with your feelings and thinking about the person is a simple way to commemorate the day. It doesn’t have to be a big, orchestrated affair – just some quiet time in a comfortable place away from the busy world may be all that’s needed.
Ceremony and religious tradition
Some people find solace in more formal occasions around the death of a loved one. Attending a church service in their honour might give you the comfort and support that you need on a death anniversary. If your loved one attended a certain place of worship, others there may also want to pay their respects, so be sure to mention it to the pastor, clergy or religious leader beforehand and specific prayers may be offered up in your loved one’s honor.
You may otherwise want to hold a more formal commemoration service, at home or at their final resting place where you might light a candle in their honor and say a few words about the person, the loss you feel and the role they played in your life. Inviting others to attend and say something in remembrance is an inclusive way to share the day with others that feel the loss as you do. You might like to play a significant piece of music or recite a prayer or poem in their memory.
Commemorating the loss of a loved one is a very personal thing, especially on the anniversary of their death. Some people seek comfort in the company of others, while some prefer to remember alone. Whatever you choose it is best to acknowledge that they day will probably be a difficult one and to make plans accordingly, like take the day off work or call in your support network.
For more information on grief support or ways to honor the life of someone you love, contact McCartney Family Funerals on 1300916102 or visit the website http://www.mccartneyfunerals.com.au