Ways to celebrate a birthday of someone who died

Updated February 21, 2017

Birthdays of a departed loved one can be hard to confront, but planning a special birthday celebration can be a great time to relive memories, and to celebrate life. You can honour someone who died by doing something special on their birthday, or something that you believe they would enjoy. The celebration ideas that you come up with should be positive and uplifting, remembering fondly the person who is not there to celebrate with you.

Dinner at a Restaurant

Going out to dinner is a traditional way to celebrate a birthday. Although the birthday honoree cannot be present, you and your loved ones can still go out to dinner as a way of acknowledging the special day. Pick a restaurant that the deceased individual enjoyed. If it is too difficult to go back to a restaurant where you used to dine together, choose a new place -- but try to fill the conversation with happy memories of the honoree.

Dinner Party

You can throw a dinner party at your house on the birthday of your loved one who died. This is a good idea for those who want to be surrounded by family and friends in the comfort of their own home. Make a festive birthday meal, if your family has one, and be sure to make a cake. It does not have to be a birthday cake, but a cake should still be eaten to share in something sweet. One activity you might want to incorporate is that of a birthday toast or roast to the departed individual, where people share stories about him and tell funny anecdotes. This can lighten the mood, and can change the focus from loss to love.

Burial Visit

Many people find it healing to visit the burial site of a loved on his or her birthday. You can bring balloons or a bouquet of flowers and leave them at the grave to honour the deceased. You can also place any gifts made by children at the site. This celebration activity can be done individually, or with others as a group.


Some people honour their passed loved ones' birthdays by travelling. A difficult birthday is a good excuse to get away and take a trip to a new place. Travel can also be familiar. If you used to travel somewhere in particular with the person who passed away, going back there on his birthday can be a meaningful pilgrimage. Make the trip uplifting by inviting a group to go with you, or sign up for a travel tour where you can meet new people on your adventures together.

Craft Project

One way to channel grief on a loved one's birthday is to pour your energy into something creative. Craft activities, particularly for children, are effective for dealing with grief. They can also make you feel like you are creating a gift for the person you lost. Some ideas include making a collage out of photographs of the person who died, drawing a portrait of him or creating a scrapbook of his things. You might wish to make this a birthday ritual, so that every year you honour your departed loved one by making him something.

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About the Author

Kyra Sheahan has been a writer for various publications since 2008. Her work has been featured in "The Desert Leaf" and "Kentucky Doc Magazine," covering health and wellness, environmental conservatism and DIY crafts. Sheahan holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in finance.