13 Supportive Things to Say on the Anniversary of Someone's Death

This is an important time to reach out, and your words can mean a lot. Whether it's first anniversary of someone's death or beyond, your support can help.

Published December 21, 2023
Man and woman compassionately holding hands at a table

A few kind words can make a huge difference to someone who has lost a loved one, and the need for support doesn't change as time goes by. It's not always easy to know what to say on the anniversary of a death, but we've got some tips and examples that can help you offer comfort and show you care.

What to Say on the First Anniversary of Someone's Death

The first year after someone dies is really hard. Every important holiday and milestone passes, and getting through that is a big accomplishment (whether it feels like it or not). If a friend or family member has gone through this difficult first year, it's nice to show they're still in your thoughts.

  • I know it's been a year since Joan passed away, and I just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you.
  • You're in my thoughts today more than ever. Let me know if you want to talk.
  • I looked at the calendar today and realized the date. Just want you to know I'm here.
  • In some ways, it doesn't feel like a year has passed, but in other ways, it does. Sending you so much love.
  • This first year can feel so difficult, and I want you to know I'm here if you need anything at all — today and always.
Quick Tip

Don't stress if it feels a little awkward to bring up the loss. The person you're comforting knows it's been a year (or more), so you're not reminding them of anything by mentioning it. What you're doing is showing you are thinking of them during this time, and that can matter so much.

Comforting Words for Any Anniversary of a Loss

Whether it's been one year or many, the anniversary of someone's death matters a lot. Share a memory or just reach out and let your friend or loved one know you're thinking of them. 

Woman checks her smart phone
  • I'm remembering Jim and his wonderful laugh today.
  • Today is an important day, and I'm thinking about you.
  • Time keeps on moving, but love never fades. You matter to me, so please let me know if you need anything at all.
  • It's the time of year when my thoughts turn to memories of Sarah and the beautiful person she was. Then I always think of you and how much you loved her. Sending you hugs.
  • I can't know how you feel today, but I do know I care about you so much. Please reach out if you want to talk.
  • Sending you a hug today.
  • Remembering my dear friend today and the people who loved him.
  • You're in my thoughts today.
Quick Tip

As the years go by, what you say will depend on how the family and friends of the person commemorate the day. Some people mark it in a formal way with a toast or visit to the cemetery, and others prefer to remember their loved one privately. You can take your cues from how they talk about the person and what they do on this day.

What Not to Say on the Anniversary of a Death

Although reaching out is almost always a kind thing, there are some things it's better not to say on the anniversary of someone passing away:

  • I know how hard this is. (Everyone experiences grief differently, so we don't know what they're feeling.)
  • This is such a hard day for me. (Focus on the person you're talking to.)
  • They're in a better place this year. (Even if they share your religious faith, this may not feel comforting.)
Quick Tip

While it's usually good to be specific and share a memory or something that was special about the person, it's often better to keep it a little general on the anniversary of the death if you aren't sure how the other person is thinking about the day. A simple "I'm thinking of you" is always appropriate.

Remembering Is a Comfort

The fact that you're putting some thought into what to say on the anniversary of a death means you're already going to say the right thing. Just show you care and keep it simple. If the other person wants to talk more, let them know you're open and available. Your kindness will be a great comfort.

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13 Supportive Things to Say on the Anniversary of Someone's Death