After you lose a loved one, their birthday can be one of the hardest days of the year. It is really normal to struggle with conflicting feelings on their birthday. Milestone birthdays can make this day even more difficult, so we have come up with a few ideas for ways to honor a deceased loved one on a milestone birthday.
While you read through these ideas, I really want to remind you that there is no one way to honor your loved one on their birthday, and grief is anything but predictable. There may be some years where one of these ideas in their honor sounds like the perfect idea, and other years where it is too painful to endure. The unpredictable nature of grief is the reason that we talk so often about giving yourself grace in your grieving process. There is often no way to predict what you are going to need that day, so be sure to put your own health first and focus on giving your soul what it needs.
Do something they loved
It is really normal to want to connect with the memory of your loved one on their birthday, and there is something that feels special about spending time doing a pastime that they loved. Maybe your mom loved gardening, and spending time in the garden on her birthday helps you feel her spirit near. Maybe your child loved dinosaurs, and your family feels close to him when you visit your local natural history museum. Maybe your brother loved football, and you celebrate his life by watching the big game. There are millions of little ways we can feel our loved ones near, so I want to encourage you to personalize this to your own story and family dynamics.
Here’s the reality – sharing memories can be triggering for some families right after losing a loved one, so please know this idea will not work for everyone. If you find that your grief is triggered too much by this activity, or if unresolved conflict with your deceased family member makes this too hard to do, we totally understand. If you find yourself in this place, it can help to process with a trusted friend or a professional therapist. Human relationships and grief are hard, and we all deserve support.
For those of you who feel like sharing memories as a family is an emotionally safe activity, it can be a wonderful way to honor a loved one on a milestone birthday. You can gather with friends and family, enjoy a dinner in your loved one’s honor, and spend an evening or morning sharing memories and reflecting on their life.
Light a candle
Back in 2015, before we even started laurelbox, Denise had the idea to create a birthday candle, complete with sprinkles and all, that would be a sweet but sensitive way to honor the birthday of a loved one who has passed away. We have kept the design of our Shining Bright Birthday Candle similar ever since that first candle, and now we even have the option for you to customize it with your loved one’s names. It is a really special keepsake that can be used year after year to honor and celebrate your loved one on their birthday.
If the idea for a birthday candle does not feel quite right, or if you want a candle that can be burned all year round in their honor, we created a Custom Memorial Candle in a fresh juniper scent that is also customized with their name. It is the perfect fit for someone who is not sure they would like the symbolism of the birthday candle, but still wants something beautiful and high quality to remember their loved one.
We also have a complete collection of beautiful and meaningful memorial candles that are perfect to honor a deceased loved one on a milestone birthday.
Take a trip
While traveling can feel impossible in those early stages right after loss, many people find later that traveling can remind them of their loved one. Some people choose to travel to locations that were meaningful for their loved one and find connection in traveling back to places where they have beautiful shared memories. Other people head to new places where their loved one dreamed about visiting as a way to feel their spirit near.
No matter how you celebrate a milestone birthday, we hope this list helps give you ideas that serve your family and yourself.