Celebrating a loved one’s posthumous birthday

September 24th 2017 would have been my mum’s 80th Birthday.

I am certain that if she was still here with us, we would have had some form of celebration, either a big event or a small family gathering.  As it happened to be on a Sunday this year, it’s more likely we would have had a thanksgiving service at church followed by a small reception, her friends and aburos (Yoruba word for younger ones) would have ‘turned up’. Talking about friends, we  (my siblings and I) have lost touch with her friends over the years, many of whom would have also passed away….

So going back to my post, how do you celebrate your loved one’s posthumous birthday, especially if it’s a special milestone?

From my experience, I think it’s easier in the early years, okay maybe ‘easier’ is not the most appropriate choice of word. Of-course your emotions are still quite raw in those early years and their birth date only serves as a reminder of your loss, it evokes your pain, the hurt and anger you seem to have hidden or buried within yourself, but perhaps because of all these feelings, it’s easier to remember to mark their memory and celebrate them in some way, if you can find the strength to do so.

However, I must admit that for me, as the years have rolled by (it has been 24 years since my mum’s death), I have often forgotten to ‘mark’ the day. One year, I completely missed the date and I beat myself up about it, it took me  a few weeks to get over my ‘forgetfulness’, another year… I just let it go..

So this year, I thought to do something a little different. I wanted to reach out to bereaved children in schools and support them. I got the courage to call up my high school in Manchester and asked to donate copies of ‘Letters of Hope – Encouragement for the Bereaved Child’ and the accompanying journal to bereaved children in the school.  I was extremely nervous about calling, and felt a huge sense of relief as well as fulfillment when the conversation ended.  The chaplain I spoke to was delighted that I wanted to give back to the school and support others on their bereavement journey.

My mum’s memory lives on through each copy of my book and journal. I chose to celebrate her this year by donating copies of my book and journal to the 1st school I attended in England when I relocated from my home country – Nigeria.  You too can choose to celebrate your loved one’s memory in a unique way, that is meaningful and special to you.  Here are some suggestions of what you could do:

  1. Donate to {or volunteer your time to} a charity linked to their death
  2. Have a small gathering with close friends and family, perhaps light a candle in memory of your loved one and have their picture at a focal point in your home.
  3. Bake their favourite cake.  This may be cathartic and you also have yourself a treat. 
  4. Spend time alone,  you may choose to visit their grave or  a place of worship
  5. Do absolutely nothing…

Remember to be yourself and do only what YOU are comfortable doing, not what you think people expect you to do.

Sending you warm hugs.

Be Encouraged x


(P:S – If you know someone approaching a loved one’s birthday and you’d like to send them an encouraging note and a gift pack, please drop me an email at hello@lettersofhope.org.uk)


{Image courtesy of Sharon Chen_Unsplash}

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