Special occasions like birthdays, holidays and milestone life events can be especially hard for families coping with the loss of a loved one. These important dates offer a time for family and friends to remember, pay tribute to and celebrate the life of their loved one. 

There are lots of thoughtful ways to show your support and care for the family as they navigate through these significant moments. 

Write a letter in a personal card or send a thoughtful message

Whether you send a handwritten letter, a note in a card, or a direct message, the important thing is to let the family know you are thinking of them. These kind notes can quickly bring a smile to the reader’s face. 

Here are some examples of what you can include in your note:

  • Thinking of you today...
  • I am remembering your dad and what a wonderful influence he was...
  • You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • I want you to know how much you are loved! 
  • Please know that I am always here for you. 
  • Sending thoughts and smiles your way.
  • Sending you warm thoughts of love, hope and peace today. 
  • My heart and thoughts are with you today.

Consider sharing your favorite memory about the loved one who has passed away, or take a moment to reflect on the loved one’s impact on your life. 

Lend a listening ear 

Grief is a journey of ups and downs, and it changes and transforms as time moves forward. Important dates like the loved one’s birthday, or a meaningful holiday, can bring an abundance of heavy and painful emotions along with them. Times that were once filled with joyful memories are now a reminder of a loved one who is no longer here to celebrate. Give your friend the space to cry or talk about the one they lost, and give them time to share their thoughts and feelings. To be fully present and listen without judgement is a great gift. If you feel a loved one needs to talk with a professional, don’t be afraid to suggest it.  

Make a donation in their honor

Think about giving a birthday gift to the loved one who has passed away. Did he or she have a favorite charity, cause or organization that they were passionate about? Consider making a donation in their honor, and let the family know in a message or letter how you celebrated their loved one’s passion and spirit in this way. 

Celebrate holidays and special occasions

Look for ways to help celebrate and honor the memory of the loved one who has passed. 

  • Plant a flower or tree
  • Decorate a garden with special stones that have a word written on each one describing the loved one’s best qualities
  • Gather at a favorite restaurant and share favorite memories around the table

These are just a few ways that you may wish to remember a loved one as part of a celebration. Think about the traditions that you can help maintain to honor their memory, and offer your support to the family in arranging a celebration if they choose to have one.

Pay it forward

Treat the car behind you in line at the fast food drive-thru to their coffee, or pick up the bill for another diner in a restaurant. Anonymous acts of kindness are a beautiful way to spread love and kindness in memory of someone who has passed away. This kind gesture is something you can do in whatever way works for you, and can be the perfect opportunity to remember and celebrate the person who has passed in a more personal and private way. 

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