A reader wrote, “What should you say on the anniversary of a loved one’s death? I’m not sure if I should mention the anniversary or not.” The fact that you are asking this question is wonderful and shows thoughtfulness. The people who are grieving will be so pleased and touched in their hearts that someone else remembers their ongoing grief and the one who has died.
Why It Is Important to Honor the Deceased
The book, Helping a Neighbor in Crisis gives us this very helpful perspective about whether or not to say anything as the anniversary of a loved one’s death approaches:
“When there is a death, mark on next year’s calendar the date so you can remember the family in a special way. Very few people remember the anniversary date of a death. For those dearest to the deceased, however, that date is indelibly imprinted on their minds and in their hearts. They will dread it. Many experience a resurgence of sadness and depression, not only on the death anniversary date but for weeks preceding it. To be remembered on these dates with a note, flowers, or other appropriate gift lets them know they are not alone in remembering.”
Tips for What to Say or Do on the Anniversary Date of a Loved One’s Death
So, do reach out. Here are some suggestions for what to say or do.
Start a note or a conversation by expressing your sadness: “This must be a very difficult time for you as you remember the death of your dear son, Phillip. I am so sorry about your on-going sorrow,” or “Thinking of you this week. Remembering. We love you.”
Send a photo. If you have some pictures of the deceased, you could send some pictures with a note saying something like: “Remembering. . . Thinking of you.”
Send a note and share a memory. “Our families certainly have had a lot of fun together. Sending hugs your way. Remember when Joe caught this fish and thought he had caught the biggest fish ever?”
Thank you, dear reader for being sensitive to your friend’s grief.
For more information on this topic, visit our Caring for the Grieving resources page.