There is perhaps nothing else quite as difficult as processing the death of a family member or a close friend. Life itself is full of changes and sometimes those changes can seem like they come out of nowhere. Whether you lost a loved one unexpectedly or not, the process of learning life without them is daunting and can seem impossible at times. 

Even though it can feel overwhelming, there is hope, and we can learn how to move forward with our grief rather than moving on from it. The road to living in a world where someone you loved and cherished has passed on is many things, but it is never short. This new aspect of life becomes as much a part of your daily experience as waking up in the morning and breathing. 

Everyone Has a Unique Relationship With Grief

It’s unavoidable and it will take time to understand. Possibly the biggest challenge on this journey of healing and learning to live in this new season is the anniversary of a death. Every year the season, month, week, and day that you had to say goodbye will come back around. Everyone’s road through grief is uniquely their own as well as their reactions to certain stimulants—such as an anniversary. 

Some people may be able to handle these occasions with grace while others may struggle. This is because everyone has a unique relationship with grief and everyone has their own personal timeline and journey when it comes to healing. The most important thing to understand is that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to learning how to experience the anniversary of the death of a loved one. 

When you are learning how to handle a death anniversary or how to celebrate the birthday of a dead loved one, there are some fundamental and important things that you need to be aware of. Keep the following thoughts in mind when beginning this journey or if you are comforting someone who is experiencing it.  

Do Not Compare

It’s an old saying that the biggest thief of joy is comparison. When we take our eyes off of our own circumstances and put them onto others it can lead to feelings of jealousy, confusion and even resentment. 

There is no one else just like you! You are uniquely and wonderfully your very own self and that means that your relationship with something like grief will also be unique. For example, if you look at a person who walked through a similar situation as yourself and judge your own performance based on them, you will just bring hurt to yourself. 

If your journey through grief is longer than you thought it would be, take a moment and practice acceptance with yourself. If, on the other hand, you are reaching a place of emotional stability and understanding, don't feel guilt over this as well. Your loved one would want you to be happy as soon as you can.

Be Willing and Ready To Ask for Help

There is a huge part of this process that you might not be able to do completely on your own. Don’t become a vacuum to your own thoughts and limited perspective. 

If you are concerned about your grieving process or you feel like you have trouble understanding an aspect of the healing journey—ask for help. This can come in a variety of different ways and methods from seeking therapy, counseling, or even religious comfort, or just asking a close friend to spend some time with you.

Try Your Best To Make a Game Plan

As time goes on and you experience more and more anniversaries significant to the death of a loved one, the hurt of them being gone will not lessen. Instead, you will grow and just understand on a deeper and deeper level how to continue living richly in their honor. This is a normal part of the healing process. It’s not that you don’t care about them, it's that you are just continuing to live in a world where they have passed and it’s natural. 

That being said, the first couple of times experiencing a death anniversary can feel very disorienting. Having a plan in place to make sure that you are going to have what you need is important. If that’s taking extra time off so you can get away and have some solitude, or intentionally planning out time with friends so you don’t feel so alone, you need to try and find some kind of plan that will help you. 

The freedom when making a game plan comes in that you’ll learn as you go. If something about this anniversary didn’t help, then don’t be afraid to revisit your plans and remove what didn’t help you, and keep what did. 

Memorializing Those Who Have Passed On

Every culture has some kind of ritual or process surrounding the events of death and the recurrence of a death anniversary. Some cultures celebrate their dead every year in commemoration of their wisdom and the legacy they left behind. This can happen through music, celebration, food, or through somber times of quiet vigil. 

What About Cremation?

When it comes to the practice of cremation, celebrating a death anniversary can look the same as that of a burial. When someone is cremated their ashes are given to the family or friends closest to them. These ashes are typically placed in a commemorative urn and can be kept at a cemetery or a residential location. 

Some people request that their ashes be scattered at specific geographic locations of significant value to them. These locations then become common pilgrimages for death anniversaries where a loved one can come and remember and commemorate their relationship. 

Memorial Diamonds

Another method of commemorating a loved one is the unique process of creating a diamond out of their ashes. This is a new, unique way of creating a beautiful diamond that memorializes a loved one in a truly eternal fashion. 

When a person chooses to be cremated, their remains are placed inside a cremation furnace where they are exposed to intense heat. This heat sublimates almost all of the organic tissue found within the human body and reduces what doesn’t into ashes. These ashes are typically the remains of hard carbon structures like bones and other properties of the human body that are not as easily reduced with heat. 

When an individual decides to take the ashes of a loved one and create a memorial diamond out of them, these ashes provide the carbon for that process. Carbon is extracted from the ashes of your loved one, and then that carbon is purified to set the building blocks for your diamond. That purified carbon is then added to organic carbon, and placed inside a particular mold where the diamond will be grown. In that mold, there is what is called a diamond seed that helps to set a blueprint for how the carbon will grow into a diamond. 

That mold is then exposed to intense amounts of pressure and heat that mimic the earth's crust where diamonds are naturally formed. The most beautiful aspect of creating a real diamond out of a loved one’s ashes is that there is no other diamond like it. 

100% uniquely memorialized to a loved one’s memory, this commemorative diamond is one of the most personal ways to celebrate a life well-lived. 

Not only that but they can be fashioned and cut to specification meaning that you can use them for any piece of jewelry. This can add a deeply personal layer of celebrating a death anniversary, by wearing the jewelry that commemorates your loved one out to their favorite restaurant, or out on one of their favorite activities. 

This unique practice works to keep your loved one close to the heart and mind in a truly one-of-a-kind way

Make Sure They Are Celebrated

The most important parts of celebrating a death anniversary is your healing in the journey and their memory not being forgotten. Don’t overly stress or burden yourself with the process of learning how to commemorate a loved one who has passed on. 

The truth is, there will always be an element of difficulty to this process. So don’t get caught up on issues that don’t matter. As long as you are learning how to celebrate life and be thankful for them while keeping their memory alive in your hearts—you can not ask for more.

Sources :

Grief: Coping with reminders after a loss | Mayo Clinic

The Psychology of Grief: Cultural Differences in Death and Dying | Well Doing

When Someone You Love Dies Unexpectedly | Gundersen Health