How to Acknowledge a 3rd Death Anniversary: 16 Ideas

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The days and weeks after a loved one dies are incredibly difficult. It can be challenging to go through the motions of everyday life while your grief is so fresh. Over time, the intensity of your pain may fade. But when the anniversary of a loved one’s death rolls around, feelings of sadness can be brought to the surface.

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Many people find comfort in celebrating the life of their late loved ones when the anniversary of their death rolls around. Some people might plan a large celebration of the deceased. Others may choose to have a solitary moment of remembrance. Here, we’ll explore how to acknowledge a death anniversary three years after your loved one has passed. 

Activity Ideas for a Loved One’s 3rd Death Anniversary

On the anniversary of a loved one’s death, it may be tempting to stay in bed and pull the blankets over your head. But there are some activities you can do that will help you feel closer to your deceased loved one and keep you moving forward. Here, we share some ideas.

1. Decorate their gravesite

If your loved one was interred in a cemetery, the anniversary of their death is a great time to visit them. Many cemeteries allow people to decorate graves within certain parameters: be sure to look up their guidelines before you go.

2. Revisit your favorite memories

A death anniversary is a perfect opportunity to reflect on all the times you shared with your late loved one. Pull out all of your old photo albums and any videos you may have that feature the deceased — for example, a wedding album or a video of a talent show. Curl up on your couch with a soft blanket and a mug of tea and take a leisurely trip down memory lane.

3. Host a small gathering

Some people find it challenging to be alone on emotionally fraught days like the anniversary of a death. Inviting people to come and grieve with you can help mitigate any sense of isolation you may be experiencing. Ask a few other people who were close to your deceased loved one to meet up so you can mourn them together. You can share stories and memories and come together in your grief. 

4. Build their legacy

Just because someone dies, it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to have an impact on the world. There are several ways you can ensure that their name continues to be associated with great things. If your late loved one was academically-inclined, you could establish a scholarship in their name. If they were passionate about a particular cause, you could set up an annual charity run to raise money for it. Ensure that their memory lives on positively.

Poems to Read or Share on a Loved One’s 3rd Death Anniversary

Since the invention of language, people have explored complex emotional themes like grief and loss. Reading about someone else’s experience with death can be very healing. These poems may bring you some comfort on a death anniversary.  

5. “Farewell” - Anne Brontë

While the Brontë sisters are mostly known for novels like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Agnes Grey, they were also skilled poets. This particular poem is perfect for a death anniversary because it urges the reader to remember happier times with their lost loved ones, starting with the opening stanza:

Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.

6. “Crossing The Bar” - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tennyson was a prolific English poet who served as Poet Laureate during the reign of Queen Victoria. This poem is told from the perspective of a sailor heading out to sea, but it also reads as a metaphor for death. Its comforting message assures the reader that the narrator is excited to be going on this great adventure, as in this excerpt:

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark

7. “Remember” - Christina Rossetti 

While the name Christina Rosetti isn’t as well known as those of other women like Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Emily Dickinson, she’s still one of the most well-respected female poets of all time. In this poem, she urges people not to be hard on themselves from moving on after the death of a loved one:

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

8. “The Rites for Cousin Vit” - Gwendolyn Brooks 

Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most revered American poets of the twentieth century. This groundbreaking artist was the first Black author to receive the Pulitzer Prize. In this poem, she tells the story of a spirited woman who regards death as a temporary inconvenience. It’s the perfect poem to memorialize a feisty spitfire:

Carried her unprotesting out the door.
Kicked back the casket-stand. But it can't hold her,
That stuff and satin aiming to enfold her,
The lid's contrition nor the bolts before.
Oh oh. Too much. Too much. Even now, surmise,
She rises in the sunshine. There she goes

Quotes to Read or Share on a Loved One’s 3rd Death Anniversary

People who ascribe to a particular faith may find solace in death anniversary prayers. If you don’t have particularly strong spiritual beliefs, these death anniversary quotes are a great alternative. 

9. “The life of the dead is placed in the heart of the living.” - Cicero

This quote by Roman scholar and philosopher Cicero is over 2,000 years old, but it still feels fresh and timely today. Even when our loved ones are no longer here, we carry them with us.

10. “Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” - William Penn

While this quote is often attributed to Rossiter W. Raymond, it first appeared in a prayer written by William Penn. While Penn was a devout Quaker, this quote still has a secular enough feel to appeal to everyone.

11. “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us.” - Helen Keller

Helen Keller was no stranger to loss — she lost her eyesight and hearing due to illness at just nineteen months old. But even with all the challenges she faced, she persevered and lived a fulfilling life. This quote reminds us that we can still go on and thrive in the wake of tragedy.

12. “How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” - A.A. Milne 

English author Milne is best known for writing the iconic Winnie the Pooh books. This charming quote has the same sweet, sentimental appeal that has kept his work in fashion for over a century. 

Messages to Share for a Friend on Their Loved One’s 3rd Death Anniversary

When someone loses a loved one, they’re often inundated with offers of help and messages of support in the days after a death. But as time goes on, even the most well-meaning and supportive people move on with their lives. Sending a message to a friend on the anniversary of their loved one’s death is a great way to let them know you care. Here are some ideas of what to say on a death anniversary

13. I know today must be a hard day for you. I just wanted to let you know that you were on my mind, and I’m here if you need to talk.

This short and sweet message is a great way to let someone know that they aren’t the only one who remembers the anniversary of their loved one’s passing. It provides a concrete offer of support without putting any pressure on them.

14. I’m thinking of John today, and remembering all the good times we were lucky enough to share with him. I still fondly remember that road trip to the beach we all took in college. Today, I’ll raise a margarita in his honor.

One of the hardest things about someone dying is the fact that their loved ones can’t create new memories with them. If you also knew the deceased, you can share your favorite memories with the people closest to them.

15. I understand if you’d rather be alone today, but I wanted to see if you wanted some company. I was thinking maybe we could go to that restaurant that Becky loved and you can tell me some of your favorite stories about her.

Some people prefer solitude while grieving. Others would rather feel a sense of community. If your friend is in the latter group, you can extend an invitation along these lines.

16. This morning I made a donation to Mark’s favorite charity in his memory. I hope that brings you a small measure of comfort on this difficult day.

If you want to make a thoughtful gesture on behalf of your friend’s late loved one, a donation is a lovely route to take. You can choose a charity they supported in life, or if they died from an illness, you might want to donate to a nonprofit organization that’s working towards a cure. 

The Importance of Acknowledging a 3rd Death Anniversary

No matter how much time has passed, the anniversary of a death can bring up complex emotions and feelings. It's important to acknowledge this milestone, whether you're observing a third death anniversary or a 10 year anniversary. Whether you plan a charity run or just read a poem in the comfort of your own home, a ceremonial gesture can help you find peace on a difficult day. 

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