For many families, birthdays are a big deal. You celebrate your loved one by surprising them with a birthday cake, presents, and perhaps a small-scale family reunion. When your loved one dies, their birthday can feel like a sad void. In particular, if you celebrated an uncle’s birthday every year — not having them around for their day may make you feel sadder.
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This doesn’t have to be the case, though. When it comes to celebrating birthdays, love is all that matters. While your uncle may be gone, saying "happy birthday in heaven" with a favorite birthday tradition may be the way to go. If your uncle was a big sports fan, perhaps sharing some favorite quotes about his favorite team with your family could be the way to go.
In this particular case, re-establishing these kinds of traditions help you and your family to celebrate your uncle, and allow for people to share their memories together. However, you decide to celebrate, sending these kinds of messages to wherever your uncle may be is a helpful way to treasure his memory.
Read a Poem That Says “Happy Birthday, Uncle”
Birthday poems are a fun addition to cards. They can be emotional, grateful, or whimsical, depending on the author’s mood. We’ve provided excerpts from birthday poems below, so you can pick one or two. They make a great read-aloud in a family setting!
"Birthday Lights" by Calef Brown
This whimsical poem focuses on the magical feeling around birthdays. It’s an ode to old traditions, no matter how messy they get.
“Light bulbs on a birthday cake. What a difference that would make! Plug it in and make a wish, then relax and flip a switch! No more smoke or waxy mess to bother any birthday guests. But Grampa says, “it’s not the same! Where’s the magic? Where’s the flame?”
"Counting Backwards" by Linda Pasten
As you age, birthdays change. Colorful candles and party streamers might not decorate your living room anymore. This poem talks about birthday as you get older, and the endless cycle of time.
“... but the numbers hardly matter. It’s the physics of acceleration I mind, the way time speeds up as if it hasn’t guessed the destination—where look! I see my mother and father bearing a cake, waiting for me at the starting line. ”
"Cheerios” by Billy Collins
Collins wrote a fun poem based on his discovery. He shares a birthday with a popular American cereal brand! What famous or popular connections does your uncle’s birthday have?
“One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago as I waited for my eggs and toast, I opened the Tribune only to discover that I was the same age as Cheerios. Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios for today, the newspaper announced, was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios, whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.”
"The Party” by Jason Shinder
This lovely poem encapsulates what family birthday celebrations are like.
“And that’s how it is; everyone standing up from the big silence of the table with their glasses of certainty and plates of forgiveness and walking into the purple kitchen; everyone leaning away from the gas stove / Marie blows on at the very edge of the breaking blue-orange-lunging- forward flames to warm another pot of coffee, while the dishes pile up in the sink, perfect as a pyramid …”
"On the Eve of A Birthday" by Timothy Steele
As you get older, you realize that years are precious. This is especially true if you’re reading a poem aloud to commemorate your deceased uncle’s passing.
“As my Scotch, spared the water, blondly sloshes / About its tumbler and gay manic flame Is snapping in the fireplace, I grow youthful: / I realize that calendars aren’t truthful / And that for all of my grand unsuccesses / External causes are to blame. / And if at present somewhat destitute, / I plan to alter, prove myself more able, / And suavely stroll into the coming years …”
Read our guide on the best funeral poems if you'd like more inspiration.
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Share a ‘Happy Birthday, Uncle’ Quote With Loved Ones
Funny or intelligent quotes are always popular choices to put on a birthday card. When you’re remembering your uncle, they provide something to bond with family.
- “The first fact about the celebration of birthdays is that it is a good way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.” -G.K. Chesterton, Author
- “Birthdays would be excellent institutions were it only for the pleasant little inflation they bring.” -Mary Wright Sewell, Author
- “Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.” - Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rabbi
- “He’s younger every birthday than he was the year before.” -Charles Dickenson, Author
- “There is still no cure for the common birthday.” -John Glenn, Astronaut and Senator
Find a Fitting Prayer
Relying on your faith tradition is a great way to emotionally heal. Saying a prayer, while adapting it to fit your uncle, is a great thing to do with your religious community.
"Prayer on a Birthday" from Christianity
This prayer is for your uncle and yourself. Commemorating the joy of his birth, while acknowledging your pain, gives balance.
“As I celebrate his birthday today, permit me, God, to celebrate it with you in this private way, opening my heart to you. If I reached this year it is because of you, who were never absent from my life. Your presence has given me the will to fight against what is selfish and evil. You have accompanied me, Lord, with the power of your kindness all along the journey of my life …”
"An Irish Blessing" from Catholicism
This Irish blessing is a great reminder of the joys of family. It asks for God’s protection and provision for your deceased uncle.
“May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings beside your door. You bring light to the house, warmth to the hearth, and joy to the soul, for wealth is family and family is wealth.” - Author Unknown
"God’s Garden" from Islam
This prayer celebrates what the afterlife must be like, on a birthday, for the deceased.
“Lord, the air smells good today, straight from the mysteries within the garden of God. The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise, the first blue violets, kneeling.”
"Universal Prayer" from Hinduism
When you’re facing a new year, it’s often the time to make resolutions. This prayer is for yourself and the deceased. It requests the strength for a fresh start, full of virtue and free of vice.
“O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love! Salutations and prostrations unto Thee. Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient … Grant us an understanding heart, Equal vision, balanced mind, Faith, devotion and wisdom. Grant us inner spiritual strength To resist temptations and to control the mind. Free us from egoism, lust, greed, hatred, anger, and jealousy. Fill our hearts with divine virtues.”
"Prayer of Thanks" from Judaism
As a religion, Judaism centers on the importance of life. This prayer praises God for keeping watch throughout the year.
“Throughout all generations, we will render thanks unto Thee And declare Thy praise, Evening, morning, and noon, For our lives which are in Thy care, For our souls which are in Thy keeping, For thy miracles which we witness daily, And for Thy wondrous deeds and blessings toward us at all times.”
Remembering an Your Uncle's Birthday
The occasion of your uncle’s birthday is bound to warrant mixed emotions. In particular, if it’s the first birthday since his death, it will be painful. This is an opportunity, though, to cultivate his legacy. If he were here, how would he want you to remember his birthday? What would he consider fun or worthwhile? Because someone is dead, it doesn’t mean you stop celebrating the impact their life had on yours.
With the above traditions, you can bring your family together. If everyone loved your uncle, chances are high that others are struggling. These poems, prayers, and traditions give you something to bond over. Finding emotional catharsis in this way will prove healthy in the long run.
- “Prayer on a Birthday.” Ithaca College, n.d., www.ithaca.edu/religious-and-spiritual-life/catholic-community/catholic-prayers-and-resources/prayer-birthday
- “Prayer Index.” Xavier University, n.d., www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/index