My name is Abby. I am an intern with LOSS as I work towards a Masters in Social Work at Case-Western. I am also a suicide loss survivor, having lost my husband in September, 2015.

As my wedding anniversary approaches this month, I struggle once again with how to honor my husband and take care of my own grieving heart. This year hurts for me. It will be the fourth wedding anniversary since my husband died, which means now he’s been dead longer than we’ve been married. One year I got a tattoo, another I pampered myself with a pedicure and shopping trip, and last year I simply decided to put my wedding ring back on for a day.

I find myself wishing there was a rule book of rituals; something universal so I didn’t have to plan. There is a guide for celebrating each year of marriage; buy paper for the first anniversary, cotton for the second, leather for the third. But, what about after? Suddenly, there are no rules, guidelines, or process to measure if I am doing it “correctly.” We are left to create our own traditions in place of days that were once joyful.

I am envious of those who have established annual rituals. Some people leave an empty seat at the dinner table, visit the cemetery, light a candle at a particular time, plant flowers, or look at pictures with family or friends. Four years later, I still stumble my way around these anniversaries and special days, so I decided to research what other religions do on these special days.

Religious traditions

Christians tend to visit the grave with flowers or other objects to remember their loved ones. Since Buddhists believe it is just the physical body at the grave because the person’s spirit has been reborn, they tend to do things to wish happiness for their loved one in their new life. Hindus have an annual event called the Shradh where food is given to the poor in memory of their loved one. On the anniversary of the death, Jews observe this as a solemn day of remembrance. After one year, Muslims will have a large prayer gathering with family and friends.

If you’re like me, it can be any combination of these rituals or maybe none at all. How do you honor your loved one on these anniversaries and special days?

If you or someone you care about are struggling with suicidal thoughts please get help. 911 | 1-800-273-8255 |text “4hope” to 741741