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tinyfaery's avatar

How can a person who does not believe in life after death commemorate the dead?

Asked by tinyfaery (40740points) March 1st, 2010

Today is my birthday. Today is also my mom’s birthday. She died a little over 3 months ago.

I am feeling a bit empty today, but I have no idea what to do about it. I have no spiritual beliefs or religion, so I feel a bit silly feeling like I need to somehow connect with my dead mom.

What can I do? Any suggestions? If you are a non-believer like me, what do you do in cases like this?

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23 Answers

Lothloriengaladriel's avatar

take out old photo albums, just remember the good times, it doesn’t have to be spiritual to reconnect with your mother in some form.

Cupcake's avatar

Did you mom have a favorite flower? You could buy one.
Did she read you a special book or have a special poem? You could read it.
Did she have a favorite food? You could eat it.
Did you two share a special song? You could listen to it.
Do you have a notebook or journal? You could write down a special memory of her.
Do you remember your dreams? You could think about her and try to dream about her.
Do you have any clothes or jewelry of hers? You could wear them.
Did she have a favorite restaurant? You could go eat there.

Cruiser's avatar

Be open to all possibilities of her spirit still within you and celebrate her life and not her death. You have years of memories of how she shaped your life and embrace what was once her life she shared with you.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Sorry about your mom.I don’t think you have to set aside any particular day to commemorate someone.Just remember them however you want to .

njnyjobs's avatar

It’s not so much celebrating for her but about her. Remembering your mom, or any other significant person that has passed is more of a memorial of the relationship you had with them, a look back at your own personal happiness in the company of those people.

YoH's avatar

My parents have been gone a very long time, yet I seek the thoughts and feelings I shared with them. My own memories and conversations with others, bring closer that which I miss. It sounds like you miss her and maybe celebrating her life through remebrances will help.

janbb's avatar

You could go to to a place where you shared some good times or do an activity that you enjoyed together. Look at pictures, talk about her to your wife. If she has a grave or commemorative site and it is meaningful to you, you could go there. I have never believed in an afterlife, but often remember and mourn my dead.

Oh – and do celebrate your own birhtday in some way, tiny. She would want you to.

Dog's avatar

That empty feeling is the worst. Hugs to you.

I commemorate the death of my first husband by taking roses to a senior center (rather than his grave) and handing each lady a rose. I know he would love to see their faces as they go from placid to glowing.

In short I honor the dead by making a tiny difference to the living.

holden's avatar

That’s beautiful, Dog.

wundayatta's avatar

Commemoration is about memory. Gather objects that help you remember her and then tell yourself the story of how that object helps you remember. If other people are there, tell them the story. You may want to keep these objects together in a display somewhere, just to remind you. Then again, you may want to take them out only on special occasions.

nebule's avatar

wow… only three months ago…much love to you xxx there are some great suggestions on here already and not having anyone close to me die as yet I wouldn’t know… but wanted to send you my love anyway xx

Janka's avatar

“I have no spiritual beliefs or religion, so I feel a bit silly feeling like I need to somehow connect with my dead mom.”

This is nonsense. Religious or no has nothing to do with your need to remember and reconnect to the memories of your loved ones that are no more. The rituals of remembering are not for the dead—even in many religions, the dead don’t care—they are for the living, to be reminded both about the dear departed and their worldview.

@Cupcake ‘s ideas are lovely. If you wish, you could also add something that reminds you of your own beliefs: maybe the cycle of life and death, or also remembering the loved ones that are still with you.

marinelife's avatar

Spend time thinking about your Mom and what she meant in your life. Writer her a letter telling her how much you loved her.

Create your own special rituals.

partyparty's avatar

Try thinking of all the good times you had with your mum.
Nobody can take those memories away – they belong to you and only you.

Berserker's avatar

You don’t have to believe in life after death to commemorate the death of a deceased love one, as essentially it entails to honour and celebrate what they were in their living, and these methods will be significant to you and your mom and what she was for you, and not some official or spiritual rule.
There are some good suggestions here. Take out a photo album, or whatever else inspires and moves good memories for you. Something you guys did together, remembering certain events.
Sure it will be sad at the same time, but that’s why commemoration and sinking back into good, or maybe even bad memories helps to deal with it in the long run.

My dad died in 2002 and whenever I miss him too much, I put on The Beatles for like a whole afternoon. It was his favourite band, and whenever I hear most of their songs it springs up some good memories all the way back from when I was little to the last of my teenage years, since he always had em blaring. To me, that’s who my dad was, an old cheerful hippie who let nothing get him down, and this is my own way of celebrating him, even years after he’s gone.

So you can try and find you own personal thing that was also your mom’s and use this as commemoration. Don’t force yourself to find some symbolism, that’s not what it’s about, essentially when you reminisce over good times, whether it be through reruns of a TV show you guys watched together, a photo album, some book she read to you when you were little, going to a place she liked, whatever else, you’ll find some significant way to celebrate what she means to you.

nikipedia's avatar

I can’t add anything to the great suggestions above, but I just wanted to say happy birthday, and I hope you get the peace you’re looking for. <3

lynfromnm's avatar

Whether one believes in life after death has nothing to do with commemorating a person who has died. At a memorial service you simply remember events in the person’s life, the qualities you enjoyed in them, their accomplishments and so on. I don’t see why that is any different for believers/non-believers.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Focus in on everything—large and small—that you learned from your mother, and how she helped shape who you are, and how she shaped others in your family. That, in essence, is a form of life after death. Even though she’s gone, her presence is felt in how she shaped others.

Blondesjon's avatar

Remember that you kinda are the commemoration of your Mom.

Jeruba's avatar

I would write something. That would be much more of a connection for me than any empty ritual.

The second anniversary of my mother’s death is coming right up, and that’s probably what I’ll do.

The first time through for each special date in the year is really hard. Even more so, I’m sure, is having coincident birthdays. Be sure to give yourself some quiet time, and also continue to allow yourself plenty of time to go through the grieving process. It can take as much as two years. It does get easier.

nebule's avatar

@Jeruba I was actually wondering that today… what time-scale one might put on grief… two years sounds to me about right…minimum at least…although i know this must be a purely subjective relational, situation specific concept…it always shocks me how society seems to urge us to move on, quicker than is natural

Jeruba's avatar

@lynneblundell, I have read in various places that from one to two years is normal, especially for a close relationship such as a parent or spouse. About a year and a half seems to have been the period for me and others I’ve known, but there are so many factors that this is just approximate. Loss of a child probably takes a lot longer.

augustlan's avatar

@tinyfaery I’m so sorry I missed this on the day you posted it. I hope you had a lovely birthday, and found some way to reconnect with your mom. <3

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