Happy Death Day

11 Mar

It’s a weird anniversary and even weirder to remember. My mother died twenty eight years ago tomorrow. It was sudden, unexpected, and changed my life forever. But I have trouble remembering it every year. Why can something so profound be forgettable?

I didn’t grow up with elaborate remembrance rituals for the dead. The belief I grew up with is that they’re in a better place, that there was a purpose for it, and that we need to celebrate their life. None of which helps the grieving person at the moment, but what can you say? “Life is chaos, be kind?”

And at the time, truly nothing can help, except being there for the person in that moment. However, at some point, we have to move on with our life and not wallow in our grief. I return to my mother’s gravesite every time I come back to my hometown, and because she’s not the only one, I visit my grandparents, my brother, and two of my childhood friends graves as well.

However, it was much later in life that I was introduced to the concept of “yahrzeit,” or the anniversary of a loved one’s death. It’s a simple ceremony–you light a 25-hour candle, say a prayer, sometimes put up their picture, and welcome the spirit of your departed into the house. Think of it like Dia de los Muertos, but with a flexible schedule.

During that day, I feel as if the spirit of my departed one is with us in the house, sharing our lives, and it’s a very moving experience. Is the actual spirit with us or does it just force me to remember their lives for one day? It doesn’t matter. It reminds us that those who got us there are not lost in our memory–even if I forgot it last year–and that they can be with us.

I do this with all my departed relatives, as does my wife, and have all the pictures nearby in a box. I do need to buy another candle this year, but since I’m writing about it, it’s more likely I’ll remember this year. Sure, I could do it anytime, but there’s more of a connection on the actual date than any other time. Eventually, no one is left to remember them–and at some point, us–but as long as we remember their stories, they are more than just a name on a page or a stone somewhere.

Well, that’s depressing. Do you do something similar? Do you find comfort in grave sites or memorial services? Is it a waste of time? Let me know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, check out some of my books! Or if $1.99 is too high a hurdle for you, download some of my stories for free!

2 Responses to “Happy Death Day”


  1. Religious Existentialism | Albigensia Press - March 28, 2021

    […] in intercession is that you have to ask, “Why does God intercede in my life, but not to save my mom?” This was a hard one for a while, and since I don’t believe in predestination anymore […]

  2. I Wouldn’t Cry At Her Funeral | Albigensia Press - July 14, 2022

    […] point? Make your platitude your attitude! No… wait, ah, what about “Life is chaos, be kind?” There’s so much hate or reason to be angry in the world – it costs you nothing […]

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