How to Reach Out on Anniversary of a Death

Anyone who has experienced a loss knows that the anniversary of the passing of a loved one can be extremely painful. This is always true, though the first anniversary may be particularly challenging to face. 

The realization that it's been a whole year and having all the memories (both good and bad) can be almost traumatic to our systems as the loss. 

Even if several years or even decades have passed, the anniversary of death is never easy.  

If someone in your life is approaching the anniversary of death for someone they love, there are a few things that you can do to offer comfort and support. Let's take a look at how you can do exactly that. 

How to Reach Out to Someone for an Anniversary of Death 

There are several great options when it comes to reaching out to a friend or family member when the anniversary of death is approaching for someone they cared about.

You can send a card letting them know that you're thinking about them, or send a gift. The gift could be flowers with a nice message, a gift card to a local restaurant, or a memorial gift that's symbolic of their loss.  We love this beautiful remembrance jar where you can write messages throughout the year and reflect on them each time the anniversary of the loss comes up.

message on anniversary of death jar gift

Be sure to send a message on the anniversary of death.

Consider calling or texting to let them know that you're there for them and free if they want to talk or spend time together. If they live alone, maybe reach out a few days in advance to see if they'd like to spend time with you outside of the house so that plans can be made, but know that they may cancel day-of if they're overwhelmed.

anniversary of death memorial gift

Many people who are grieving also appreciate an offer to visit the cemetery or grave site, as it can be difficult to face alone, even if you wait in the car. You can also ask if there are any spiritual rituals they used to share with a loved one that they'd like to take part in again, like planting daffodils bulbs in the fall or even eating a favorite meal.  

Words of Comfort on Anniversary of Death: Quotes & Messages That Can Help with Grief 

Knowing what to say in the face of grief can be difficult and uncomfortable, and we don't always get it right, especially when the loss is a surprise. If you know that an anniversary of death is approaching, however, you can take some time to find the right words in advance. 

Let's take a look at words of comfort you can offer someone you care about on the anniversary of a significant death. 

What You Can Write Yourself

Writing personalized, heartfelt messages to someone that you care about can mean everything. You know this person and what the loss meant to them, which can help you write something that will mean a lot to them.

You can incorporate inside jokes that came from the loved one that you also took part in, or factor in their spiritual or religious beliefs.

Acknowledge the pain of the loss, and remind them that it's okay to be hard.

Something like this could be great:


I know this time of year is hard as we're approaching the passing of your father. I know how much you miss him and that this year has been so challenging. I'm glad you're keeping the happy memories close, and know that he's proud watching down on you.

We're thinking about you, and we'll light a green candle (his favorite!) in his honor this week." 

Famous Quotes to Bring Comfort 

Sometimes, finding the words yourself is too much of a challenge, especially in the face of raw grief of someone that you love. It can be helpful to draw on great wisdom and beautiful words that are well-known. They're well-known for a reason after all, right? 

Here are a few different options to consider.

Religious Words of Comfort 
  • “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • "Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal."  Thomas Moore  
  • "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."  ― John 11:25,26
  • "The memory of the righteous is a blessing." ― Proverbs 10:7
  • "When you lose someone you love, you gain an angel you know." ― Author unknown 

Secular Words of Comfort 

  • "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure." Author unknown
  • “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”― JRR Tolkien 
  • "I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.
    They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.
    Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.
    We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love."Leo Buscaglia

Quotes About Struggling with Grief 

  • “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott
  • “Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” José N. Harris
  • “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ― Leo Tolstoy
  • “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ― William Shakespeare


Final Thoughts 

Finding words of comfort as an anniversary of death approaches isn't easy, but put the person who is grieving at the forefront of your thoughts. What has been hardest about this experience for them? What do they miss most, and what are their spiritual beliefs? All of these elements can help you find the right words to offer comfort in a difficult time. 

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