24 Ways to Say 'Happy Birthday in Heaven' to a Loved One


When a loved one passes, their birthdays and holidays can bring on new waves of grief. Even if they’ve died recently or years ago, these special days can be difficult to manage. However, these special days can also remind us of what we love about those who are no longer with us.

Honoring a loved one’s memory with a new tradition brings them closer to us. No matter how much time has passed since you said goodbye to your loved one, here are 25 ways to say "Happy Birthday in Heaven.

1. Write Down a Birthday Message in a Journal

Taking the time to write a birthday message to your loved one can be a new way for you to heal and also spend time thinking of them. Even though your loved one is no longer here on Earth, their memory is still with you.

Taking a few moments to reflect on your feelings is not only a way to process your grief, but to also keep their memory alive. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

  • How would you say happy birthday if they were with you?
  • What are your favorite birthday memories?
  • Update your loved one on what’s happening in your life or the world. 
Share your final wishes, just in case.

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2. Read One of Their Favorite Poems Out Loud

Poetry can help us when words fail, especially when we don’t have the right words to say. That’s where poetry truly helps. If your loved one had a favorite poet or poem, reading one of their favorite poems out loud can bring peace in a time of need. If you don’t know his or her favorite, here are some other poems that are perfect for birthdays:

  • “Remember” by Christina Rosetti
  • “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
  • “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

3. Write Your Loved One a Letter

Another way to celebrate your loved one’s birthday is by writing them a letter. Similar to journal writing, this is a great way to cherish the time you had. Reflecting on your memories and feelings is a way to overcome any remaining grief. Not sure how to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Talk about your day
  • Share how you’d spend this day if you were together
  • Reflect on your feelings since your loved one has passed

4. Visit Their Grave

Taking time on your loved one’s birthday to visit their grave is a thoughtful way to celebrate. Bring fresh flowers, clean the gravesite, and spend some time here. Cemeteries are usually reflective and calm spaces.

What better way to spend your loved one’s birthday than in their final resting place? You can quietly reflect, or use this time to read a letter to your loved one. 

5. Light a Candle

On birthdays, it’s tradition to blow out candles on a cake. Taking a few minutes to light a candle in honor of your loved one’s birthday helps you get into the celebrating spirit.

To take it a step further, get a cake! Say a wish of your own as you blow out the candle and share the cake with loved ones. Alternatively, you can host a candlelight vigil to remember your loved one.

6. Make a Donation

If your friend or family member had a cause they believed in, why not donate in his or her honor? This is an amazing birthday gift, especially after his or her passing. If their death was due to a specific disease or illness, your donation is also a way to honor their legacy and passing. Here are some ways to make a meaningful contribution:

  • Donate to charity
  • Participate in a community event
  • Spend time raising awareness for an issue

7. Take a Trip

If there are too many memories holding you down during your loved one’s birthday, it might help to get away. You can travel with your family or alone.

Either way, stepping outside of your typical space frees your mind to new ideas. Traveling brings new reflections and thoughts. Lose yourself in a new place.

8. Throw a Birthday Party

Who said you could only throw a party for the living? In many cultures, celebrations of the deceased take place all year long. Throwing a party for your loved one on their birthday honors their memory while bringing the whole family together.

Odds are your friends and family have similar feelings of grief at this time of year. Bringing everyone together provides much-needed support. 

9. Give a Gift

Typically birthdays include some kind of gift-giving exchange. While your loved one is no longer around, you can still keep the spirit of giving alive by gifting something special to someone else. You can also donate these gifts to a local charity or someone in need. 

10. Write a Eulogy

A eulogy is typically included as part of the funeral service. They’re an insightful look back on the life and legacy of your deceased loved one.

Writing a eulogy for your friend or family member reminds you of their contribution while on Earth as well as their impact on those around them. It’s a great way to honor them on their birthday. 

11. Read a Book

Reading is always a good idea. On the passing of a loved one’s birthday, why not read something meaningful? When we read, we experience new things and grow as people. Here are some ideas for what to read on the birthday of a loved one who has passed:

  • Read one of our picks for the best books on grief
  • Explore your loved one’s favorite genre
  • Read your loved one’s favorite book or author

12. Make a Social Media Post

Though simple, posting on social media is a way to spread awareness about this special day. Letting others know that your loved one’s birthday is passing allows them to remember this person in their own way. Here’s some inspiration for what to post:

  • A happy birthday message
  • Your favorite photos of them
  • Their favorite quote

13. Plant a Tree

Just like your loved one’s memory, a tree is longstanding and strong. Planting a tree in his or her honor is a gift that will go on for years or even centuries to come.

Choose a sapling of your favorite type of tree and plant it in honor of your loved one. Add a plaque or sign in your loved one’s memory.

14. Cook a New Recipe

What food was your loved one’s favorite? Maybe they loved eating a slice of cheese pizza on the weekend or they always raved about grandma’s homemade meatballs.

Food brings people together, so why not cherish your loved one’s memory with their favorite eats? Better yet, gather the whole family to create a meal together. 

15. Listen to Music

Music communicates feelings that are hard to put into words. Listening to music is a great way to celebrate the passing of a birthday. It brings back memories we sometimes don’t know we have.

To share the power of music with others, create a birthday playlist in your loved one’s honor. 

16. Buy Flowers

Flowers are a common way to honor a loved one’s memory. You can buy your loved one’s favorite flowers or any arrangements that mean something to you. Here are popular picks:

  • Baby’s breath to symbolize innocence
  • Carnations to show your love
  • Chrysanthemums as a sign of cheer

17. Make a Memory Capsule

A memory capsule is a small container full of things that remind you of your loved one. You can include things like photographs, cards, letters, books, and other mementos.

From there, store your memory capsule somewhere safe. It’s common to bury the memory capsule during the funeral service, but you could also host your own memorial at a later date. 

18. Frame a Photo

Photos can become enduring physical memories. For your loved one’s birthday, why not look through your favorite photos of them? You can frame your favorite photo of them or the two of you together. Hang this somewhere you’ll see regularly. This is a great keepsake for years to come. 

19. Watch a Movie

Everyone has a favorite movie. Host a movie marathon to screen your loved one’s favorite films on his or her birthday.

You can invite friends and family or just enjoy them yourselves. Don’t forget to make popcorn and bring lots of their favorite snacks. 

20. Take a Class

What was your loved one’s favorite activity? Did they have something they always wanted to learn? Even if they didn’t have a chance to do these things in their life, you can celebrate their memory now.

Join a class for their favorite hobby or skill. Create something in their honor or participate in your loved one’s passion. You never know what you might discover. 

21. Create a Video Tribute

Video is a powerful tool for expressing emotion. With so many user-friendly options available today, it’s easy to create a video tribute for your loved one. Screen the video for your friends and family on their birthday or post it on social media. 

22. Make a Toast

Make a toast on your loved one’s birthday to their memory. Give a toast with your loved one’s favorite drink, and share some cocktails with friends and family. Honor their memory by telling your favorite stories around a table together. 

23. Visit a Favorite Place

We all have a favorite place, so where did your loved one spend time? It could be as simple as in nature, or maybe it’s a specific bench at the park. Wherever he or she felt the happiest, go there on this special day. 

24. Think of Them

Finally, don’t feel pressured to go all out on your loved one’s birthday after their passing. It’s the little things that matter most. Taking a few moments to think about your loved one is more than enough.

Remember them frequently throughout the day, and cherish these little moments. Honoring their memory often means living life in the moment.

Celebrate Your Loved One’s Birthday After Their Passing

Those we love really never leave us. Taking the time to celebrate the passing of a loved one’s birthday, even if they’re no longer with us, keeps the memories alive. We all want to be remembered by those we love. 

This list above offers plenty of inspiration for saying “Happy Birthday” in heaven. These little celebrations just show that the best way to cherish those who have passed is to enjoy every moment today. 

For more information about the passing of a loved one, read our guides for what to say on a death anniversary and how to respond to condolences.

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