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How to Celebrate Dates of Significance Following a Death

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There are a handful of dates on the calendar we celebrate every year, including anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and more. But following the loss of a loved one, what should be momentous occasions can often serve as painful reminders.

While certain dates bring back certain memories, people often forget just how difficult everyday life can be after a loss. 

Tasks that once seemed mundane or routine—getting exercise, eating healthy and sleeping enough—can seem like impossible tasks for those grieving, but it’s important to give yourself credit. Below, we explain how to celebrate dates of significance—big and small—after a loss.

1. Returning to Work

Returning to work after a loss can be overwhelming, making productivity nearly impossible. If you find yourself easily distracted, don’t be afraid to ask for help, even with the simplest task.

Whether it’s reviewing a proposal or finishing a project, your coworkers are willing to help you during your time of need. 

The first few days, weeks and even months will be difficult, so give yourself time to heal. If you receive praise for a job well done from a client or customer, celebrate with coworkers.

2. Running Errands 

Following a loss, you may find yourself in charge of the family. If this is new to you, be easy on yourself. And even if this role isn’t new, reassuming it while grieving is difficult, too.

For example, simple things like getting groceries can feel like a tedious task after a loss, so reward yourself for going with your favorite dessert or your loved one’s favorite dish. Studies show your sense of smell is closely linked to emotions. Cooking your loved one’s favorite meal is a unique way to remember the person you lost. Even just smelling the dish can transport you back to another time and place.

3. Going to a Place They Loved

Is there a particular place you remember your loved one by? Perhaps they loved to visit the community garden. Did they have a favorite restaurant where they would order the same dinner time and time again?

It’s probably your gut reaction to avoid these places because it would be painful to go there without them. But, visiting these locations could help you relive fond memories you had with your loved one. Not to mention, it will help to keep their memory alive by talking with others who also frequent those places and knew your loved one.

4. First Family Event 

Celebrations like the first Christmas or Thanksgiving without someone who played a major role in your family’s life will be especially hard. This is also true for personal dates of significance, like anniversaries.  

While you may be wondering if you should skip the day altogether, ignoring important occasions is equally as painful. First, acknowledge that the day will be difficult. If possible, make a plan for how the day will look, and share that plan with others. Making it somewhat predictable, so you know who and what to expect, makes everyone feel like they have a little more control.

On this day, think about doing something to memorialize your loved one by decorating the table with his or her favorite flowers. Then, give yourself a pat on the back for attending or hosting your first family event after the death.

5. First Anniversary of Their Death 

Following a loss, an anniversary can change from an anticipated event that celebrates your love to a dreaded occasion—but it doesn’t have to be. This is especially true when the anniversary of their death rolls around year after year.

Instead of feeling like you have to face this date on your own, gather your closest family members and friends for lunch or dinner. Or consider visiting their final resting place, whether in a cemetery, a location where you scattered their cremated remain, or a special place of significance.

Building this day—instead of ignoring it—into your annual calendar allows you to gather those closest to you, share stories and memories, and visit with your loved one. Doing this is a great way to create a new tradition for years to come.

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Jim Busch
Jim Busch
Owner and president of our firm. Fourth generation funeral director and certified crematory operator, Jim is guided by his principles in faith, family and friends. He loves to hear feedback from our families. Proudly serving Busch families since 1986.

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