Ideas for a Memorial on the Anniversary of a Death

Updated April 17, 2017

The anniversary of a loved one's death is usually a sad event marked by strong emotions. Often, family members and friends of the deceased opt to gather together and remember their loved one, celebrate her life and provide support for each other through this difficult time. There are many ideas that can help make a memorial service a special tribute to a deceased loved one on the anniversary of his death.

Service Setting

The location and setting of the memorial have a great impact on the event's overall atmosphere and tone. For a traditional event, hold the service in a church, temple or other religious building. Relatives and friends aiming for a more secular, low-key memorial may select a setting with less of a religious influence. A serene outdoor location -- like a riverbed, park or beach -- allows for a peaceful, reflective gathering among friends and family.

Speeches and Readings

Often, on the anniversary of a loved one's death, family and friends wish to share their thoughts and feelings. At a memorial, attendees can read personally written letters to the deceased. Those who have trouble finding the right words to say can rely on something that's already been written. Biblical passages and other religious texts, prayers and poems may help express the thoughts of those attending. Other times, stories or children's books may present the feelings that accompany loss in a more creative way.


While expressing feelings of sadness and loss are often part of a memorial, some services opt to focus on the happier times. A memorial service provides family and friends who are gathered together a chance to share their fond memories of the deceased. At a loosely organised service, guests may share personal stories and discuss their memories in a collective, group conversation. Pass around a memory book to allow each guest to write her own message about the deceased. This forms a book that celebrates the individual's life.


Music has the powerful ability to capture emotion, express feelings and bring people together. Religious services often integrate traditional songs, which spread the message of the faith and unify the group. Friends and family at a memorial often play recorded songs from a CD or MP3 player that remind them of their loved one or are a fitting tribute to their loss. Musicians or even attendees who wish to add a personal touch to the ceremony can play their own music.

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About the Author

Lauren Griffin began writing professionally in 2010. Her articles appear on various websites, specializing in academics, food and other lifestyle topics. Griffin attended Columbia University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.