Death Day Rituals

I can easily think of several birthdays of friends and family but few death days. We celebrate birthdays to honour the people we care about. But when someone dies what do we do with that date?

I think someone close to you has to die before you think about the date that they died. I’m in my late twenties now and my social media accounts are filled with people approximately my age. Spending even a little time on websites like Facebook make you realise that it is always someone’s birthday. However sometimes a post will appear in memory of a loved one.

I think their frequency will increase as people age and so do their parents. People in their twenties typically have parents in their 50’s. We only live for so long. Having lost a parent in my early twenties I’m acutely aware of the significance of that day.

I remember the entire day and the precise moment I realised my father had died. The jarring sensation of being instantly whipped out of one reality and thrown into adjacent one. Now only able to look back at what once was. Frozen and unable to ever add new memories to replace the already fading ones.

That day, when it comes around feels like my own personal new year. A B.C and an A.D just for me. But the day itself is harmless. After all, you can only die once. Losing a loved one needs no reminder but the anniversary of a death close to you is a strong one.

I use the day to remember my father. I like to remember what he enjoyed and try to enjoy those things to. For my him it was ice cream and coffee. Both in far from sensible amounts. It’s a ritual for my siblings and I to enjoy and share pictures.

I splurged at an upmarket ice cream shop this year with a decadent dark chocolate chip for me and terrifically tart strawberry for my dad. Round two involved a deep green matcha, a flavour he never had the chance to try, and a vanilla with evidence of vanilla bean that my kids will remember me for in the absence of good mint, my all time favourite that I make best at home with purpose grown freshly lick leaves. My younger brother, several time zones behind me and not to be outdone, bought a litre of ice cream and didn’t share a lick.

This death day brings us together. Death days have this power that our individual birthdays don’t seem to wield.

We need more death days. Birthdays give us people. Death days remind us of what the people gave us. I’d like to see them celebrated more. I’d like for others to share their death day rituals too.