You may want to find ways to recognize both your loved one’s death and acknowledge the funeral years after it has occurred. Doing so can breathe more meaning into your mourning and healing process and honor your loved one.
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We’ll discuss a funeral anniversary, some ideas for how to commemorate your loved one’s first funeral anniversary, and beyond. Take a look at our list of creative ways to honor someone.
What’s a Funeral Anniversary?
First of all, let’s discuss the ins and outs of a funeral anniversary. However, how you choose to remember and celebrate your loved one is up to you.
Different types of “anniversaries,” including funeral anniversaries, simply mean another year has passed since a meaningful date. Other types of anniversaries include birthdays, career markers, the start or progression of relationships, sobriety, and smaller milestones that you can assign as much meaning to as you’d like.
So, what are death anniversaries?
Depending on what offers more impact for you, your loved one’s death anniversary may stick out to you more than the funeral anniversary. To clarify the difference, death anniversaries mark another year after your loved one’s date of death.
Of course, this means funeral anniversaries occur a year or years after the date of your loved one’s funeral service. Funeral anniversaries can also refer to the anniversary of a celebration of life or memorial.
What about angelversaries?
Some people may also refer to death anniversaries interchangeably as an “angelversary.” This may simply be due to the negative connotation of the word “death." "Angel” may sound more positive.
People with a belief system that suggests that their loved ones become angels after they die celebrate angelversaries. You can use whatever name you like as you choose to remember a family member for any of these events.
How to Commemorate a Funeral Anniversary
Coming up on a year after your loved one’s funeral service or looking for ways to honor your loved one? It’s time to think about how to commemorate a funeral anniversary.
First funeral anniversary ideas
Depending on your time and resources, you may choose to commemorate your loved one’s first funeral anniversary more elaborately than years to follow. That being said, you shouldn’t feel tied down to any single idea.
In fact, you should feel free to change your plans each year or even do something that your late loved one had on his or her bucket list or even an anti-bucket list. Following this methodology may have you constantly leaving your comfort zone, or maybe not much at all. Regardless, a little adventure can be a good thing.
1. Throw a celebration of life ceremony
A celebration of life ceremony offers an entirely different take on the idea of funerals and memorials. If you feel as though the funeral for your loved one was too sad (or perhaps adequately sad) and you’d like to remember him or her a bit more joyously, consider a celebration of life.
Celebration of life ceremonies don’t have rules or expectations, or at least to the extent that funerals and memorials do. You can wear whatever you want, plan whatever activities you want, play loud music, share good food — it’s all up to you. What sorts of things would make your late loved one the happiest?
2. Host a reunion
If a celebration of life ceremony with your family and friends simply isn’t in the cards for the first funeral anniversary of your loved one, don’t worry. You can find alternatives. You can always take an additional year to save and plan anyway.
Virtual funerals and reunions have become more and more common. Travelers can encounter travel challenges, have issues with the cost, or end up impossible due to health concerns for friends and family. Virtual events (even Zoom funerals) may not offer the ideal solution but can certainly be more fulfilling than nothing.
3. Take a mountain road trip
If you don’t have easy access to the coast, choose to embark on a mountain road trip to honor your late loved one. You can plan a hike or two, side excursions, or even pick out camping spots. However, if your loved one appreciated the finer things in life, there’s nothing wrong with booking a five-star hotel along the way instead.
4. Hit the beach
A beach is a healing place for many people, but you may want to pick one that’s known for being less crowded, at least for this occasion. It’s likely hard to get into a reflective space when dealing with an influx of frat boys or even triathlon trainers.
5. Scatter cremated remains
If your loved one has been cremated, a year after his or her funeral may offer up the perfect time to scatter some of his or her cremains. There’s no perfect timeline or guide to doing so, but maybe by this point, you’ve been able to arrange a trip to a meaningful spot or decided where you can do so locally.
6. Turn cremains into something special
If you have cremains that you don’t plan to scatter and would like to repurpose them in another meaningful way, you can consider memorial diamonds or another unique use of cremains.
7. Cook a large meal
We’re talking bigger than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. Cook or order a massive meal made of your loved one’s favorite treats. Enlist your family to help in the kitchen or to gather supplies.
If you don’t have enough mouths to feed in your immediate circle, invite your neighbors, coordinate with a food pantry to share the leftovers, or deliver them to those with food insecurity in your area.
Ideas for 2+ year funeral anniversaries
You may feel more pressure to outdo the first year’s funeral anniversary activities. However, that may not necessarily end up the case. You can use the second year anniversary and those going forward to honor your loved one in new, innovative ways. Planning these events shouldn’t cause you more stress — they should bring you joy and peace.
8. Plant or maintain a garden
If you’ve heard of green burial options, you can plant a garden around his or her urn or cremation rock. On the other hand, if your loved one is in a cemetery or vault, you can recreate a place for you to visit your loved one at home, whenever you want. You could also look into contributing to a community garden in your loved one's name as a way to share the joy that nature can bring with others.
Volunteering in your loved one’s name for a cause offers a great way to honor them. On the other hand, you can always choose a cause in need at the time.
10. Try out a new hobby
Branching out, trying new things, and living your life to the fullest offers the best way to honor a late loved one. Your loved one can no longer act out these things, but you can. Leave your comfort zone or find a new passion.
11. Get a tattoo
Depending on your dedication level, you can get a new tattoo each funeral anniversary or simply do this a few years in a row. The tattoos you get don’t have to be large or necessarily related to your loved one at all. Of course, this will make it far more meaningful if they do.
For example, you could tattoo small words or phrases your loved one used or even his or her favorite verses in a symbolic way. You could also get a sleeve or larger piece progressively, such as adding a few flowers or plants each year.
12. Pamper yourself or your loved ones
People take entire days dedicated to self-care too infrequently. Pampering yourself or your loved ones can commemorate someone no longer here.
Your loved one would want to see you thriving and loving yourself. Sometimes we all need some uninterrupted time to reconnect.
13. Hit the town
Maybe your loved one was known for frequenting the bar or club scene in his or her prime. You can pay homage by doing the same thing. On the other hand, you can also do a food or beer tour to make the event a bit more family-friendly but just as fun.
14. Plan a movie marathon
If your loved one was a movie buff, you can plan a fun day at home with your family and friends in your loved one's honor. Do your research ahead of time and put together a list of films you know you can get your hands on.
For example, he or she may have loved old sci-fi movies, Bond movies, or westerns. That being said, you can always show a variety, such as his or her favorite movie from a few different decades. If you want to go above and beyond, you can even turn it into a drive-in event or rent a projector.
Do You Need to Do Some Post-Funeral Planning?
Many people worry about funeral planning (and rightfully so), but not many people consider the events after the funeral. You may need to lean on a funeral anniversary to celebrate your late loved one's life adequately. Of course, funeral anniversaries offer a great opportunity for you to heal in a way that will best suit you and your family.