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7 Meaningful Ways to Commemorate the Anniversary of a Loss

June 15th, 2023

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been an entire year since the loss of a loved one. Even when grief seems to have subsided and healing has steadily progressed, the anniversary since the passing of a close friend or family member can trigger intense feelings and vivid memories.

You may find yourself suddenly mourning all over again, or you may be filled with desire to remember your lost friend or family member with smiles and love. Wherever you (or a close friend or family member) are in the grieving process, or no matter how you or others may be affected by this anniversary, this is what we know is true: kind words, meaningful activities and thoughtful gestures will go a long way in making the day a little brighter and fond memories come alive.

Here are 7 meaningful ways to commemorate the anniversary of a loss:

1. Look Through Photographs. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words for a reason. While many videos and photo albums may have been difficult to look at right after the loss, the one-year anniversary is often the perfect time to revisit favorite memories with smiles and joy. (And yes, even a few tears.)

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2. Freshen Up Their Resting Place. Visit their gravesite or final place of rest to enjoy some private time with a loved one no longer with you. Tell them about your day, share funny stories and spruce up their final resting place with fresh flowers.

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3. Cook Their Favorite Meal. Favorite dishes bring back a lifetime of memories. Set a place for them at the table and cook their favorite meal. You’ll remember all the happy times you shared over holidays, birthdays, summertime celebrations and so much more.

4. Visit a Favorite Place. There’s something special about a place where a loved one spent so much time and loved so much. You’ll feel their light shining down as you walk in the steps where they once walked. Imagine them by your side and rediscover a cherished part of the world through their eyes.

Gift Suggestion:

  • Consider installing a custom memorial bench at a beloved destination, like along a trail they frequently hiked or in a meadow with a scenic view. Then others can also learn to love the spot as much as they did.

5. Donate to a Charity. The anniversary of a death is the perfect opportunity to donate to a charity in the name of a lost loved one. Think about what they were passionate about and the causes they supported. It could be an animal welfare group, a scholarship fund or a group committed to environmental causes. What you choose to donate to may not align with your personal beliefs, but it should honor their legacy and respect their final wishes.

6. Light a Candle. Lighting a candle in memory of a loved one who has passed is a reminder to all that their legacy shines bright. It’s a powerful gesture that has long been a part of our human culture and spans nearly every religious faith. The gently flickering light creates a beautiful ambience for thoughtful reflection and can serve as a guiding light in a place of darkness.

Gift Suggestion:

* Make a customized memorial LED votive candle to light for years to come in memory of a departed loved one.

7. Gather with Others. There is power is numbers. You shared the dark times, and now it’s time to come together to remember the good times. Invite friends and family also touched by this one-year death anniversary to come together and share stories. It can be a dinner, a casual toast, a walk in a park … anything your lost loved one would appreciate all of you doing together.

The anniversary of a loss can be sad, but it can also mark a beautiful moment to honor a departed friend or family member. The day can also serve as an important part of the overall healing process. Whatever you decided to do on this special day, be kind and true to yourself, and the one loved by so many.