Memorial ideas for ten years after a parent's suicide
July 10, 2011 3:41 PM   Subscribe

This December it will be ten years since my father committed suicide. My mother, brother and I have started talking about ways to observe the anniversary, but we're not sure how.

In the decade since my father died, my immediate family - mother, brother and myself - have all rebuilt our lives, and we're all happy and healthy. My mother has remarried, my brother has got married, we've all moved and got new jobs and good friends.

We'd really like to mark the passing of time, and perhaps do something constructive and/or creative. We're just not sure what...

In terms of remembering him, we've done very little that's structured: the year after he died, the three of us went away for Christmas, spending it on the other side of the world (my father loved travelling, and family holidays are our best memories), but since then we've not done anything official or organised to remember him as a group (though we all visit the grave to lay flowers on our own; it's some way from where we all live, so we go in our own time).

We've all come to terms with it as best we can, and we talk about him sometimes, but as I say, nothing structured. As the ten year anniversary comes up, we've all mentioned we'd like to do "something", we're just not sure what. So that's what I'm here to ask for...

Couple of things to bear in mind:
My mother is religious, but my brother and I are not. We're in the UK, so December will be cold and bleak - not ideal for outdoor things, and the cemetery will be especially bleak.

Thanks very much for your help.

Anon email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you wanted to do something very simple, you could all have dinner together at his favorite restaurant.
posted by decathecting at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2011

My boyfriend lost both of his parents in the last five years. We mark the day of their death with a safety candle that burns for 24 hours. Sometimes he will put out a photo, other times not. Neither one of us is religious, but I think it's a gentle way to remember. Also, both of his parents died in winter, so the candle seems to be a nice symbol in the cold darkness. This on its own might not be exactly what you are looking for, but maybe it could be part of your remembrance.
posted by kimdog at 4:13 PM on July 10, 2011

Would it be possible to donate to a charity in his name? A cause your father believed in, or something all feel is appropriate - the Samaritans, his favorite museum, a foreign aid organization, a musical scholarship fund.

Alternatively or in addition, you say he loved travel and holidays were the best memories, plus December in the UK... So how about a trip to one of the Canary Islands? Not far, not expensive. Beautiful, warm, sunny - and you'd be together. You could bring along family photographs and all three have time to remember and reminisce about your father with one another.
posted by likeso at 4:13 PM on July 10, 2011

On the anniversary of my fathers death we used to all go to the grave yard and pour a shot of his favourite tipple and make a toast to him, then we'd pour one shot on the ground for him (his ashes were in a garden).

My brothers best friend committed suicide and he went up their on his friends birthday and teed up golf balls and hit them off his grave into the woods around the graveyard. His mate loved golf and got my brother addicted to the game so it seemed appropriate to him as a way to remember his friend.

I also missed my Dad so much one year while living in the US and unable to visit his grave, I went out on a snowy night and released a sky lantern off into the sky in memory of him. It looked very beautiful on a crystal clear night with the freshly fallen snow around.
posted by wwax at 4:41 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think doing something on his birthday would be a better option if you want to remember him and his positive qualities. Or Father's Day or Christmas or some other day that you all like--First Day of Spring or something. But picking the date of his suicide seems like picking a scab or ripping open your stitches.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:01 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have no advice, but this 9/11 will be the anniversary of the day my life changed forever. I was (probably still will) going to pose a similar question as yours, for similar reasons. I understand you here.

Upon preview, tho, I really like the idea to honor his birthday. Do that.
posted by jbenben at 6:18 PM on July 10, 2011

oops. I meant, "...will be the 10 year anniversary..."

I don't know why the 10 year anniversary is so meaningful, but I hear you on this. Just seems appropriate to do something. I know.

Follow your heart.
posted by jbenben at 6:20 PM on July 10, 2011

I would each write him a letter, saying whatever you wish you could say to him.

Then I would have a little ceremony where each person burned the letter. Maybe with a special candle or something.

Then go have a drink or go have a quiet dinner together.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:16 PM on July 10, 2011

My uncle committed suicide a few years ago, and one of the best things about his wake was that there were so many photos from happier times, and so many people recounting fond memories from his life. Maybe you could spend the 10th anniversary together recalling such things? Perhaps you could each write down several important memories and spend some time sharing them with each other.

Suicide hurts because of the life that is lost. When that anniversary rolls around, I try not to focus on the fact that my uncle drove into a river — I miss him because he told me jokes when I was 5, because of the birds he carved and painted, because of his fantastic garden, because he and my father were so alike while being so different. His life was so much more than that terrible day.
posted by heatherann at 7:51 PM on July 10, 2011

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