Through the years I have discovered that death anniversaries are a great way to help my kids honor the memory of grandparents who have passed away.
Death is a hard topic to address with children, and so many times any help or advice you get in comforting your kids through it ends shortly after the funeral.
Death anniversaries are not talked about as much, but they can hit hard. Many times your body will remember the day and you can feel sad and heavy on the death anniversary of a friend or family member, even if you hadn’t realized the date.
My dad passed away when I was 14, and years ago, I learned how helpful and healing it can be to lean-in to the anniversary of his death instead of ignoring it.
Every year, I use this day every year to celebrate my dad’s life and teach my kids a little bit about the grandfather they never got the chance to meet.
How to celebrate a death anniversary
The concept of celebrating an anniversary of someones death was quite foreign to me until I moved to the Philippines. There are many beautiful things about the way Filipino cultute deals with dearh, but the anniversary concept was my favorite.
The year after someone dies, they throw a party.
Instead of everyone sitting in isolation crying to themselves they come together and celebrate the beautiful life that their loved one lived.
Stories are told.
Laughter is shared.
Lots of food is enjoyed and hugs and tears are in abundance.
It was such a beautiful time I knew I wanted to incorporate that into the grieving process that i teach my kids.
A full blown party might raise some eyebrows here in the states but I have found my own way to keep this tradition and I believe it can work for other families too.
Simply choose one activity that your loved one was known for and a favorite food, and enjoy them on their death anniversary each year.
For our family, we buy a new board game each year on November 18, and enjoy boston cream pie or another similar dessert.
It is wonderful family time, doing something my dad loved – playing board games together.
As my kids get older they are able to be more involved in the tradition and it is fun sharing this small piece of his life with them.
Other ideas to honor your loved one might be to watch their favorite movie, visit a favorite restaurant, go to their favorite park or donate your time or money to a charity they were passiomate about.
These moments create beautiful conversations with kids about honoring someones life after they are gone, and also provide a safe avenue for kids to expeess their feelings and grief on a hard day. Which is particularly important if the child knew the person who has passed away.
This is a great way to teach the kids that just because someone is gone doesn’t mean we forget them and can really shape their grieving process for their entire lives, and it’s a great way to honor the memory of grandparents who have passed away.
We did a dinner party with my aunts and uncles the year after my grandma passed. My dad cooked the foods she was known for and we ate in her old dishes. We joked about things she used to say. It was great.
We planted a rose in honour of my mom in law at the first anniversary in the color she liked roses