What Is A Death Anniversary?

What Is a Death Anniversary?

A death anniversary marks the date of a loved one’s death. While some people look for ways to distract themselves from the anniversary, others choose to reminisce on their loved one's life. Some people prefer to follow tradition based on their religious or cultural beliefs. They might have very specific ideas about how to honor the deceased and how many anniversaries should be observed. 

When culture and religion aren't involved, people have more flexibility to choose how to make the anniversary more personal. They might spend the day doing something their loved one enjoyed or sharing memories with others who knew the deceased. 

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Some people observe the anniversary date as a time to celebrate the deceased's life, while some prefer to reflect, pray, or meditate. Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Whether it becomes an annual practice or one observed only during the first few years after the death, the occasion often helps a grieving loved one get through the succession of difficult dates in a positive way.

How Different Cultures Observe Anniversary Deaths

Some cultures, such as those in Mexico and Japan, celebrate death rather than mourn it. It isn't just a celebration of the person's life, but also of the beginning of their afterlife. Rather than observing one person's death anniversary, they may have a holiday where they celebrate death in general. Perhaps none is more famous than Mexico's Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos. 

A death anniversary differs from a holiday in that it marks the specific date that a certain person died. Like those holidays dedicated to death, it is also customary in some cultures to celebrate death anniversaries of their loved ones. For example, for Hindus in India and Nepal, the death anniversary is called “shraddha.” A priest performs Shraddha rights during the first-year anniversary in the home of the deceased. Some families prefer to repeat the ceremony annually.

In several Asian cultures, including those within China, Korea, Pakistan, and the Philippines, it is customary to celebrate a loved one's or special person's death anniversary. These cultures sometimes observe similar services at different intervals such as weekly or monthly.

The Jewish culture of Israel follows the practice of Yahrtzeit. Yahrtzeit is a large celebration of a loved one on or near their death anniversary.

Dam Gio is the name given to a death anniversary in Vietnam. The celebration is a festive occasion where families burn incense in the deceased’s honor. 

How Death Anniversaries Are Observed in America

There are many different cultures throughout the United States, leading to a plethora of practices. People in this country might choose how they deal with their loved one's death anniversary and whether to reflect in private or share their feelings with close friends and family members. For example, they might:

  • Talk with the family member and share memories of the loved one

  • Share pictures that they have of the deceased

  • Take flowers or other plants to the gravesite

  • Do something that you always did with them when they were alive

  • Do something beneficial like planting a tree or making a donation to a charity

Consider Observing the One-Year Death Anniversary of Your Loved One

A lot of spouses, friends, parents, children, and neighbors lost someone during 2020. Due to Covid restrictions, many people couldn’t mourn their losses during traditional funeral services. It might be the perfect time to acknowledge the death anniversary of a loved one. It's never too late to pay tribute to someone you have loved and lost.


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