Helping A Friend Manage the Anniversary of Loss

Two women sitting at a table and holding hands while gazing at each other

My best friend’s mother passed away on my birthday. Each year when she calls to wish me a happy birthday, I always feel awkward, knowing that this is also the day that she lost someone she loved dearly. I appreciate the birthday wishes, but also want to convey my thoughts to her knowing that this is a difficult day in her world. The situation brings up a question that everyone ponders at some time or another. How do you offer your thoughts or remembrances on the anniversary of the day someone special to you lost someone special to them?

Here are some simple ideas that might help.

  1. Put the anniversary on your calendar so you are reminded of the day. Of course you can talk about the departed loved one anytime, but it is good to remember the specific day if possible.
  2. Let them know you are thinking of them, but try to keep it simple. “I know this is a difficult day for you, you are on my mind,” or “Thinking of you on the anniversary of (loved one’s) passing.”
  3. Maybe offer to get together if possible. This is a good time to share memories of how you knew the individual and allow your friend to talk of memories of their loved one.
  4. Remember this time is for you to help your friend. It is best not to pass judgment on how they are grieving or compare their grief to something you may have experienced. The most important thing is to be there to listen and to understand what your friend may be feeling on this day.
  5. Basically, a text, a call, an email or card to let them know that you care can mean the world to your friend and hopefully help them get through the anniversary with as much ease as possible.