Death Anniversaries when Someone you Love has Died

Each November, I personally experience a death anniversary. Without consciously noting the upcoming date, I observe feelings of unease and dread arising in my body. Then it dawns on me… yes, it is that time of year when my dearest friend took her life. No matter how many years it’s been, I still remember. I remember in my body, heart, mind, and in my dreams. In the years since my great grief, I have tried many activities and rituals to transform my feelings but, yet, still keep the memory of my loved one alive. I want to be able to celebrate happy occasions without dismissing this important part of me. As a Funeral Celebrant, of course, this is also part of my life work.

This past November got me thinking of the many grieving families I’ve collaborated with over the years to create meaningful memorial ceremonies.  The time I spend with all of you is near to the actual death of your loved one. Yet, I think of you often in the years afterwards, wondering how you are managing to integrate your loss with the inevitable birthdays, family holidays, death anniversaries, and other important gatherings. This year I felt keenly that I have been remiss in reaching out and checking in on you.

So how are you doing? Have you allowed yourself time to grieve? Does anything feel unfinished or undone?  Do you think ‘closure’ is ever really possible? What does that word even mean to you? I’m all for more open conversation in our society around grief.  Not only in the early stages, but now I feel compelled to serve in the years following. So I’d like you ask you this question: Do you think people need tangible ways to honour their feelings around loss – on a longer term basis?

Could it be that my clients, past and present, would like to have access to ideas for:

  • tangible activities and rituals
  • things to think about
  • new traditions to establish

Things that you can do on your own, or with family and friends – in the year(s) after the memorial?   If this is of interest to you, please reach out to me.  I’d also really appreciate learning about some of the things that helped you move through the occasions of life (the first birthday, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc) when you were feeling the absence of your husband, wife, mother, father, child, brother, sister, friend…And what didn’t help!

I hope to start a conversation in our society about all of this.So if you have ideas to share, are still deeply grieving deeply a past loss, or are concerned about managing upcoming holidays, anniversaries, or other dates without the person who has died please email me at or call me 604-992-4217. And do please pass on my name to friends, family, or colleagues when someone they love dies. I’m here to serve our community in times of sorrow and hope.

Funeral Celebrant Michele Davidson

Celebrations of Life, Memorial Ceremonies, Graveside Services


2 thoughts on “Death Anniversaries when Someone you Love has Died

  1. I am once again after 10 years getting ready to remember my son who died sudden. I struggle with how to have family and friends gather with my sadness and the desire to celebrate my son. Ideas would be great. I will never get total closure. We learn to live with the loss but forever are changed.

  2. Thank you for sharing about your son and your grief. Death anniversaries are hard. I live near the ocean and one of the things we like to do is write our own personal messages and then set them afloat on a piece of driftwood (with a rock to anchor the note). They drift out to sea bobbing with the waves, just as our grief shifts. Sometimes the messages are more to myself about what I’m feeling, other times they are directed to my loved one… where ever they are, in whatever form. Really, the release is the thing. If you live near a lake you could do this. If not, you could place in a tree and let the wind take them. I hope this is helpful. Circles are great too… just sitting together quietly and who ever wishes to speak about where they’re at and what memories they hold dear, can do do so. My best wishes to you.

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