Wondering how to ritualise the anniversary of a loved one’s death? You’re not alone. The loss of a loved one isn’t just felt immediately after their death, the grief is continuous, and while it is always changing, its full force is often felt around family holidays and anniversaries. Finding your own unique way to honour that life is one way to help the healing process. Here we show you how.
Sarah came to us just after her sister passed away, requesting we help plan her funeral service. The day was magical, despite the obvious air of sadness in the room, as each and every person there had the chance to honour Libby’s life in their own unique way.
As each guest left we handed them a keepsake ‘remembrance card’, offering them guidance on some ways they could uniquely honour Libby’s life as anniversaries came up. The first Christmas without her presence, the first birthday, Mother’s Day, wedding anniversary… the list goes on. These days are often the hardest, as memories and grief come surging back to the surface with overwhelming strength.
We understand how hard these days are. The holidays and anniversaries are the days you expect to be knocked off kilter – the obvious pain points – but the days that come out of nowhere are also times to anchor down and take a moment of pause and reflection. Here are some of the ideas we shared with Libby’s guests, that might help you ritualise the loss of a loved one, too.
1. Invite Them to Dinner
Sometimes all you need is permission to really lean into your grief and honour it, and this ritual creates the perfect setting for just that.
If it’s a special occasion, be it an anniversary, Christmas or birthday, invite close friends and relatives around for a “Date with [insert name here]”, where you honour the person who has died by making their favourite food, sharing stories and memories and honouring their legacy in ways that fill you up.
Yes, it’s unique but it’s also boldly showing up to your grief and allowing love and storytelling to take centre stage.
*Yasemin will be hosting an intimate group “Date with Death” next month on the Gold Coast. If you would like to join her and honour your loved one, please contact us for more details.
2. Create an Altar
Creating a sacred space in your house to honour your loved one is a beautiful way to express your grief and help you heal.
Look for a special location to put an altar, small table or even a shelf and start placing some of your most treasured pictures, possessions and keepsakes of the person who has died on them. Add candles, crystals, incense or sage sticks if you feel called to, and use this space to sit and connect with your loved one in stillness.
3. Pay It Forward
Many of the families we help come to us at their darkest hour, needing assistance when someone close to them has died. Throughout these messy, raw, highly emotional times, it’s stories and fond memories that help get them through.
These stories and memories form the basis of a person’s legacy – what they’re leaving behind once they die – and really exploring that is a beautiful way to honour those who have passed.
But you don’t have to wait until you die to start exploring your own legacy. Writing a legacy letter (or ‘Spiritual Will’ as we call it) to your loved ones NOW, before you pass, is an incredible gift to those remaining and an empowering tool for you to use in your own healing journey.
Our free template “4 Heart-Centred Steps to Writing Your Spiritual Will” will navigate the ins and outs of writing your own legacy, ahead of time, paying it forward to your loved ones and giving them the greatest gift of all – your essence, on paper.
4. Create a ‘Memory Tree’
If nature is your thing, another one of our favourite rituals is to create a memory tree in honour of the person who has died.
How does it work? Pick a tree, plant or indoor plant that you love. Now, it’s time to decorate it. Get creative here, using tags to write love notes, sewing or knitting little things to tie on the tree, getting the kids to paint the trunk, threading beads onto a necklace and tying it on the tree… the options are endless. The intention behind the Memory Tree is to make it a work in progress, adding memories, decorations, keepsakes and other momentos over time. Whenever you’re needing to connect to the person who has died, go and visit the tree, sit with it, connect with the stories and enjoy the pretty decorations. Use it to help you heal and remember all the gifts your loved one has (and continues) to give you.