How to Remember a 5-Year Death Anniversary: 20 Ideas


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In many cultures, it’s common to celebrate or commemorate death anniversaries. A death anniversary is the date of someone’s death, and they carry a lot of significance when it comes to loss. 

It’s normal to feel a wave of grief and remembrance on someone’s death anniversary, whether they were a sibling, a parent, or a pet. Learning how to acknowledge a death anniversary is a great way to mark this day and make it a positive event. Though you’ll never lessen the loss completely, you can use this opportunity to reflect and grow. 

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While many focus on the first year of someone’s death anniversary, the next major milestone is the 5-year death anniversary. In this guide, we’ll share how to commemorate a 5-year death anniversary with some of the best ideas. No matter where your loved one is, they’re surely smiling at you during this time. 

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how to make it easier.

5-Year Death Anniversary Ideas for a Parent or Grandparent

Losing a parent or grandparent is one of the hardest things anyone has to bear, but that doesn’t mean their memory is gone. They’re always with you, and these 5-year death anniversary ideas can remind you that they may just be closer than you think.  

1. Visit their grave

Sometimes, you just want to feel close to your parent or grandparent on this death anniversary. The easiest way to do that is to physically visit their grave. This is the perfect chance to clean their grave, bring flowers, or just quietly reflect. 

2. Write them a letter

Another way to feel closer to your parents or grandparents is to write a letter. Sometimes the thing we miss most about someone is the ability to pick up the phone and give them a call whenever. 

While you can’t talk to them physically, you can talk to them in spirit. Writing a letter about how things have changed, how you miss them, and more can be very healing. 

3. Play their favorite song

For a small yet personal tribute, play your parent or grandparent’s favorite song. Music is one of the world’s greatest healers, so let their favorite song take you back to a special time or place. While you listen, consider what you loved most about them. 

4. Cook their favorite meal

Food is another way to bring people together. Even if you can’t be with your parent or grandparent, you can still honor their legacy with a meal. Cooking their favorite meal, especially when you join together with family, reminds you that food is a language of love. 

5. Hold a family gathering

If you share this loss with other family members, like your siblings, aunts, or uncles, bring everyone together for a family gathering. Use popular memorial service ideas to create an event that celebrates the life and legacy of your loved one. 

5-Year Death Anniversary Ideas for a Sibling

A sibling is one of life’s first friends. Mark the death anniversary of your sibling with one of these touching ideas. 

6. Exchange gifts

While this might not seem like a gift-giving holiday, there is never a bad time to give something to someone you love. Sending death anniversary gifts to other loved ones, your parents, or anyone else affected by the loss of your sibling is a powerful tribute. 

7. Release butterflies

There’s a lot of symbolism in releasing butterflies. Not only does this represent a transformation, but you get to see them fly into the sky. This is a beautiful way to honor someone’s life, and it can also be a perfect yearly tradition. 

8. Plant a tree

If you’re wondering how to plant a tree in memory of a loved one, it’s easier than you think. A tree is a symbol of life, rebirth, and strength. Like your sibling, it lives on forever. Planting a tree in your sibling’s honor also means you always have a place to go and think about them. 

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9. Look through old photos

Family photos are like a time machine. They bring us back to an earlier time, and it’s easy to feel like we’re really there. Take a few moments on this 5-year death anniversary to look through old family photos, especially photos of your sibling. Seeing the fun and love you shared is a great source of peace. 

10. Light a candle

In many cultures, it’s normal to light a candle on the death anniversary of a loved one. Start this tradition for yourself, lighting a simple candle while you reflect on life, legacy, and your sibling’s memory. We could all use a quiet moment to ourselves. 

5-Year Death Anniversary Ideas for a Friend

If you’re honoring a friend’s 5-year death anniversary, this is the perfect time to reflect on what they mean to you. In addition, you might wish to reach out to someone they love to bring you closer to their memory. 

11. Call a friend

When in doubt, call a friend. We often forget to tell our friends how much they mean to us, and this can haunt us after they’re gone. Use your friend’s death anniversary as a reminder to always talk to those you love about how you feel. 

12. Create an online memorial

If your loved one doesn’t have an online memorial, create one. Next, share this memorial with friends and family to spark old memories, sharing, and photos. 

13. Make a photo album

Creating something on a death anniversary is another great tribute. You can easily put together a photo album around your friend with photos and mementos that mean something to you. Better yet, leave extra space to add to this album every year. 

14. Do something from their bucket list

Bucket lists are a highly personal thing. If your friend was unable to complete his or her list during their time on earth, choose something to complete in their memory. It will be like they’re right there with you.

15. Send flowers

Sending flowers to other friends or the family of the deceased is a powerful tribute. They’re likely experiencing the same feelings of grief, so remind them that their loved one is remembered by you every day. 

5-Year Death Anniversary Ideas for a Spouse or Partner

Losing a partner or spouse is like losing a part of yourself. Bring yourself closer to their memory no matter where life takes you with one of these 5-year death anniversary ideas for a spouse or partner. 

16. Memorial jewelry

Memorial jewelry is one of the most popular ways to honor a loved one and carry them with you. For a spouse, it doesn’t get more personal than a memorial diamond. Eterneva specializes in diamonds created with ashes or hair, letting you carry your partner close every day. 

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17. Volunteer or donate

Turn your partner’s 5-year death anniversary into a force for good by using this day to volunteer or donate. Find a cause they were passionate about and get to work. Giving back is often the best way to heal. 

18. Have a moment (or day) of silence

If you’re not sure you can handle any of the more complicated tasks on this list, keep it simple. Dedicate this day (or just a short time) to being silent and reflective. Take time for yourself and let yourself explore your feelings. 

19. Take a trip

If there was a trip you and your partner always talked about taking, what’s holding you back from taking it now? It’ll be like he or she is there with you every step of the way. 

20. Talk about them

Lastly, use this death anniversary to talk about your loved one. Talk about what they mean to you, your grief, and your favorite memories to anyone you trust. Ask them to share their memories in return. 

5-Year Death Anniversary Messages to Share in a Card or on Social Media

Honoring someone’s death isn’t always easy, and words don’t seem to capture the range of emotions. These messages below are perfect for sharing in a card or on social media in honor of a loved one’s loss. 

“We can measure time, but it’s impossible to measure loss. Grief is not linear, and I’m always thinking of you.”

Many people feel pressure to move on quickly after a loss, especially after several years. The reality is that grief does not take any single path forward. Remind your recipient that it’s OK to still feel sad.

“Your memory has walked beside me all of these years, and I am so grateful for it.” 

If you’ve lost someone special, acknowledge that you always feel them close. The reminder that those we love never leave us is something everyone appreciates. 

“I still feel your touch on my heart, and I’ll cherish it forever.” 

The memories and feelings we share with those we love are something that stays forever in our hearts. This message is perfect for any type of loss, and it’s one of the best ways to honor a 5-year death anniversary. 

Memory and Grief: 5-Year Death Anniversary Ideas

Though 5 years might seem like a long time, it can pass in the blink of an eye when you’re dealing with grief. The feelings of loss never fully go away, and taking the time to honor these memories is the best way forward. The 5-year death anniversary is a big milestone, so don’t be afraid to treat it as one. 

The ideas above may be the perfect way to make this date in your memories and your heart. Find what speaks to you, and don’t be afraid to honor your feelings in your own way. 


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