Sometimes it seems weird to celebrate a person that has died in the years that come after their funeral. What I mean is, I don't believe in having a big party on the actual anniversary of my mom's death. In fact, I want nothing to do with that day every year. I would prefer to just let the day pass as any other, and mope if I need to mope. If you're like me those days are just crappy.
But, despite the bad days, when those people were still here, they were a big part of our every day lives. That doesn't have to end with their funeral. There are ways we can remember and celebrate the lives of those we've lost. Here are a few ideas I've come up with.
On their birthday every year, have a party! Chances are pretty high that when their birthday rolls around every year, you notice. When they were alive it was a big day. You made sure to celebrate with them somehow, even from far away. This can still be something you do! It doesn't even have to be a party for them specifically. You could throw a barbecue bash and ring in their special day with fun, friends, and good food. If you wanted you could make one of their favorite dishes to serve at the party. Sounds like a worthwhile idea to me!
One of my friends has a ritual. Every year on her father's death anniversary, they go out for ice cream and get his favorite treat. She talks with her kids about fun memories of grandpa over their sugary dessert, and it helps them get to know him even though he's gone. It's such a sweet celebration of the man she misses, and helps her children keep his memory alive, even if they never met him.
What is something they loved to do regularly?
When our loved ones were alive, we often had big plans for "someday". One of the things my mom and I always dreamed of was going to Wicked, but we could never seem to get tickets when it was in town, or get to a city where it was playing. We even tried to buy tickets on our trip to San Francisco several years ago, but they only had two seats at opposite sides of the theater. One day, I plan to go to Wicked, and accomplish this feat we were never able to together. (Hopefully it's still playing somewhere!)
What is that one thing you guys always wanted to do? Skydive, visit a specific country, catch a specific band, get a tattoo? Go do it!
My oldest brother died when he was four years old. Shortly before his death, he had helped my mom plant purple iris bulbs in the yard. For weeks and weeks he asked her if they were coming up yet, and eagerly checked for the flowers, but found nothing. When they finally came he was ecstatic. He died shortly after that. For the rest of her life she planted purple iris bulbs in our yard, and I can't remember a single spring without their blooms gracing our presence. Even though I never met him, I know him because of those flowers. They were blooming the day she died, as well. I have been searching for some myself, but have only been able to find orange or white ones at the local garden centers when I go. This is one I plan to do for myself. Purple irises to remember my two family members who loved them.
Music has a way of triggering the senses. There are certain songs that remind me of very specific scenes in my life. I can even remember smells based off the song and the memories attached. Music is a powerful tool to engage your senses. Compile a playlist of songs that remind you of your loved one, and listen to it whenever you're feeling a need to connect with them.
Here is one that reminds me of my mom. The backstory is this: When I was 5, my mom was still single after her divorce and it was just me, my two brothers and her. We went on a 6-7 hour road trip to Yellowstone and forgot to bring extra tapes except the one that was in the car already. We listened to the B-52's Cosmic Thing album over and over and over... and over. To this day, I can't hear a single song off that album without being flooded with the memories of that trip from 26 years ago.
What songs remind you of your loved one?
++ What do you do to celebrate your loved one? Please share below in the comments! If you have any other great ideas let me know! I'd love to give them a try.