Grief Support on Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Special Occasions

When you’re supporting a friend or relative through their grief, look to the calendar for dates about when they might need extra care. Holidays, certain anniversaries, and special occasions and can be painful, particularly in the first year.

Acknowledging those days with a message or card is a wonderful way to check in and offer comfort. If you want to extend some extra support, here are some ideas.

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Anniversary of diagnosis or death

The period leading up to the one-year mark are filled with memories. Check in to see how your friend is going: They might welcome a chance to talk about their feelings, get together, or share stories. You might also:

  • Get together, preferably in person, to toast their loved one.
  • Personalise a gift with the deceased’s favorite song lyrics or frame a picture of a happy time together.
  • Create a tribute with pictures, music, pictures, and quotes and send them the link.
  • Mail a note to your friend to let them know you’re thinking of them and hoping they feel extra loved and cared for today.

Birthdays

A card is always a tangible reminder you care for your friend. Here are some ideas of what to say:

  • “Remembering your lovely Mum today. I’ll always miss her.”
  • “Your sister always put on the best parties. My glass is raised to her today.”
  • “We’re remembering a really special person today. Thinking of you and having a slice of banana cake in Sam’s honour.”
  • “Just a note to let you know I’m sending love your way today. If you feel up for it, I’d like to take you out for Mary’s favourite dinner.”
  • “Happy Birthday to your precious little one. Her bright and warm smile is forever in our hearts.”
  • If you know they’d prefer to be alone, you might offer to make a meal or have one delivered. Alternatively, you could send their loved one’s favourite dessert or comforting treat.

You might also offer to take them to a favourite restaurant or place to hang out. Make it your treat and be present with them.

Valentine’s Day

What your friend might need on Valentine’s Day depends on who they’ve lost. It might just be a day to remind them they’re loved, or they might be missing their romantic rituals. Some ideas to consider:

  • Message your friend to tell them how loved they are.
  • Have a bouquet of flowers or heart-shaped cookies delivered.
  • Escape Valentine’s coupledom and go somewhere relaxing together. Maybe it’s a movie where you can escape reality for a couple of hours, or a park where you can share a few memories while enjoying nature.
  • Get a sample of their loved one’s handwriting and order a custom piece of jewelry or embroider it onto a handkerchief.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day

The loss of a parent can make these annual celebrations very hard. Here are a few ways to support your friend in their grief:

  • Put a photo in a frame (hint: social media is filled with great photo finds) and give it to your friend over lunch.
  • Have their Mum’s favourite flowers, Dad’s favourite plant, or a favorite meal delivered.
  • Send a card recounting a favorite story or fond memory. Remind them of the qualities their mother or father passed along to them.

Summer holidays

December and January are full of family traditions and can be especially difficult for those in mourning.

Since you know your friend best, we know you’ll find a loving and meaningful way to show them you care. Most of all, think about their needs and what they may be feeling, then let that guide your heart. Your support will help carry them through…more than you’ll ever imagine.