How to Honor Mom's Death Anniversary: Quotes, Messages, & Ideas

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Our experience of grief over a mother’s death never ends—we simply learn to live with the pain of her loss. The anniversary of our mother’s death is an opportunity both to celebrate her life and legacy as well as reexamine the changes in our life after her passing. We may notice which of her qualities continue to live on in us and reflect on how our grief has changed us.

Jump ahead to these sections:

The first anniversary of her death doesn't mark the end of grief, but it does mark a transition in the mourning process. We've moved through the cycle of a year feeling her absence at each holiday, each birthday and anniversary, in ordinary moments and major milestones. We've been changed by this loss—and we are continuing the journey to healing. Subsequent anniversaries can be less intense but still significant—and annual traditions can help build purposeful remembrance into each year after the loss.

Finding meaningful rituals to commemorate the anniversary can be as unique as each of our relationships with our mothers. Religion, the arts, literature, music, and other expressive mediums can be a resource for thoughtful and healing memorialization. Poems and the words of others who know this pain may help to soothe the ache of our loss.

You may wish to write your thoughts about mom in a journal and share them with your friends and family. Your words will become lifelong reminders of the amazing woman who graced your life in a way that no one else could. You may wish to mark the anniversary in another way. No matter what you choose, we have resources and ideas for making it a cathartic and meaningful experience.

Tip: No matter how long ago your mother passed away, you might still be sorting through the life she left behind. Our post-loss checklist can help you work through all of your post-loss responsibilities. 

Death Anniversary Quotes for Mom

Hearing others speak from the heart about the pain of their mother’s passing may be transformative for you. Reflect upon your relationship with your late mother as you read. Many have reflected upon the impact of time passing on their grief. 

  • “The anniversary date of a loved one's death is particularly significant. You will have done something you thought was impossible a few months earlier. You will have survived an entire year without someone who was as important to you as life itself.”  —Bob Diets, author 
  • “For years following the death of my mother, I wanted to write about her. I started writing... about growing up as her child, but I never could finish... I was too close to that loss, and too eager to try and resolve things, to make her death make sense.” —Tracy K. Smith, author
  • “As the immediate pain lessened after my mother’s death, a confidence grew in its place. If I could survive this, I thought, does anything else really matter?” —Jen Michalski, author
  • “This is how we went on living after my mother died—we wove her memory in the fabric of our everyday lives. We remember the little things that made her who she was and we repeat the things that help make us the people we are today.” —Eleanor Haley, blogger
  • “You were my home, Mother. I had no home but you.” ―Janet Fitch, author (in White Oleander)
  • “I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln, US President
  • “A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.” —Maya Angelou, poet
  • “She's in the sun, the wind, the rain, she's in the air you breathe with every breath you take. She sings a song of hope and cheer, there's no more pain, no more fear. You'll see her in the clouds above, hear her whisper words of love. You'll be together before long, until then listen to her song.” —Christy Ann Martine, author
  • I miss saying "Mom" out loud. I miss not being able to find that special card for you, and then having found it, writing "To Mom" on it for yet another cherished Mother's Day. —Millie P. Lorenz, artist
  • “In your life you touched so many; in your death many lives were changed.” —Melinda Jones, author
Share your final wishes, just in case.

Create a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and instantly share your health, legal, funeral, and legacy decisions with a loved one.

» MORE: When someone dies, they leave a life behind. This checklist takes you through the next steps.

 

Death Anniversary Poems to Remember Mom

Sometimes the words of poets can express our complex thoughts and feelings better than we can. These poems all deal with a facet of mourning one’s mother. 

"Heaven Needed Mom” by Unknown

This oft-quoted poem helps us make peace with the new role a mother has in a heavenly context (tending little angels) and the connection we can still keep with her: “Although there’s sadness, this I know–She’s waiting there, her face aglow.”

"My Mother” by Carol Bodenham

The author wrote this poem to help her come to terms with the death of her mother to dementia. It beautifully expresses the connection that she continues to feel with her mother and how it is expressed through the natural and celestial world. 

"if there are any heavens my mother will" by e.e. cummings 

The poet e.e. cummings complimented his mother, Rebecca Haswell Clarke Cummings, this way:  “Never have I encountered anyone more joyous, anyone healthier in body and mind, anyone so quite incapable of remembering a wrong or anyone so completely and humanly and unaffectedly generous.” 

"Mother's Hands" by Marian Jones

The sweet, ever-busy hands of our mothers are celebrated in this poem: “Hands that rocked the cradle from the moment of my birth, Their tender touch remembered by those still on this earth./Those hands were full of comfort, now they lie at rest, But memory holds them close to the ones they served the best.”

"My Mother" by Claude McKay

The first part of the poem describes the death of the speaker’s mother, and the second emphasizes the continuity of natural and human life: “Over the earth where mortals sow and reap—Beneath its breast my mother lies asleep.”

Death Anniversary Card, Social Media, or Journal Messages for Mom

The anniversary of her death will likely bring up big and complex emotions. Finding a healthy space to unpack and reflect on these feelings will be helpful.

Whether by journaling, writing messages for your mom, or communicating to others who understand what you’re going through, this will give you the means to channel and express your grief.

Write quotes, phrases, poems, to help you cherish memories with your mom. Sharing your thoughts aloud or with others may be a powerful way to ease the grief bottled within. Below are a few examples of messages that might inspire you to create personalized examples of your own. 

  • Years have passed but the mark my mother left on this world will never fade. Today we mark the anniversary of her passing—and we celebrate the love and memories she gave us. 
  • Mom, our love for you is as strong as ever. We see your attributes and qualities in each other and in our children and we know you are living on through those you loved.  
  • It’s been three years since you left us, mother, and you are still in my heart. I wish my daughter could have met you—and loved you, as she would have, as we all did. 
  • We miss you so much, Mom. I always feel so lucky to have been your child. I miss the way you made each of us feel special and loved. I know we will be reunited again. 

Other Ways to Remember Mom’s Death Anniversary

In addition to the ideas above, consider some of these options for remembering the anniversary of your mother’s death. Creating a tradition to mark the day can help with the dread you may feel as the date approaches and will help heal the pain of missing her. 

Hold a special remembrance ceremony

If you do not have a religious or cultural template for marking the death’s anniversary with a special ceremony, consider creating a meaningful rite of your own.

This could be a quiet ritual just for you (here are some songs about death that might be appropriate), a small gathering of close friends and family, or a full memorial event.

Visit her final resting place

Bringing flowers or something else to embellish a gravestone or columbarium niche is a traditional way to mark the anniversary of a death.

The time spent close to her remains can be comforting, can help conversation flow, and can help you reflect on the meaning of the anniversary. 

Pay it forward

Try adding some special acts of kindness or generosity to the day—especially ones that would have been meaningful to your mom.

Pay for the order behind you at the drive-through, write a sweet note with your tip at the diner, put flowers on the doorsteps of strangers... whatever brings you joy and celebrates the spirit of your mother. 

Live her best day 

Cook her favorite meal. Play her favorite song. Find her most beloved flowers. Invite her friends to gather. Do something she loved to do. Celebrate all the things that brought her joy and all the joy she brought to you. 

Bring in your support system

At the time of your loss, you leaned on your community to support you in facing the death of your mom. Call on them now to help guide you through this milestone in your process of mourning—they will be grateful to know their support is helpful to you.

A Special Day for a Special Life

Along with the painful feelings that will likely arise on the anniversary of your mother’s death, invite and make room for a full range of emotions to come forth.

It might be a good time to check out books on grief if you haven’t previously found something that speaks to you. Whether through writing, ceremony, acts of kindness, or seeking solace from others, be generous to yourself and patient with your healing.

If you need more ideas on how to celebrate mom after she died, check out our guides on how to say "happy birthday in heaven, mom", how to survive your first Christmas without mom, and how to remember mom for your first Mother's Day without her.

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