The past week was my mother's first birthday since her passing. Not wanting the day to go by unnoticed, I called up my siblings and we met at the cemetery to leave flowers for her 57th birthday. Did my mom know we left flowers and told her happy birthday? I like to think so, but does it really matter? It is more for those of us who are left behind, who are grieving, than it is those who have passed. There is something therapeutic about recognizing them just as you would before they were gone.

After each of my sons placed their tiny flowerpots beside her grave and I placed my ceramic sunflower down with care, my sister informed me that every week, grounds keeping would come and remove clutter from the graves-meaning our little trinkets and flowers would be taken away. I don't blame them; the cemetery grounds need to be kept looking nice, which can't happen if it's not mowed properly. But it did get me thinking of others way we can recognize our loved ones. Here are 5 ways to remember our loved one on their birthday or anniversary of their passing.

1. Letter writing or Journaling

More than likely, one of the things you miss the most about your loved one is being able to talk to them and share what's going on in your life. On birthdays, anniversaries or just any time you have something you would normal share with them, write a letter or a passage in your journal. Set aside a notepad or journal just for these thoughts. It might be a one-sided conversation, but you'll be able to share all of your memories and thoughts in one place.

2. Volunteer

There is no greater act than one that is selfless. The next anniversary or birthday of your loved one, throw yourself into service. Volunteer at the local food kitchen or pantry. Put together blessing bags for the homeless. There is always someone in need. Honor those you love by showing love to others.

3. Stepping stones

The day of my mother's funeral services, my thoughtful aunt gave me a kit to make a stepping stone for my garden. With it, she included beads with the letters of my mother's name to place within the stone. I have decided with each passing year I will create another stone and place it on the path as a reminder of her. It doesn't have to be a stepping stone, but do something permanent for your loved one. You can even plant a tree or new flower each year in their memory. Do something you will see often and will soon become a sweet reminder of the person you love.

4. Random Act Of Kindness

Brighten another's day and do something out of the ordinary and completely unexpected. Pay for the customer behind you in line at the coffee shop. Take a sweet treat into your local firefighters. Pay for a couple's dinner dining at the same restaurant as you. Look around for those that could possibly use your help. Whether it is helping the elderly with their groceries or the person who needs a jumpstart in the parking lot, be observant and offer your help.

5. Have a Party

Ok, maybe it's not a party in the sense of cake and balloons, but make sure a small gathering of friends and family comes. Meet at the favorite restaurant of who has passed and share your favorite memories. Have a backyard BBQ and talk in the open air, reminiscing. Chances are, you aren't the only one wanting to recognize a loved one's special day. Do something close to what you would have done if they were there to celebrate with you.

It is hard losing those we love. With each passing birthday or anniversary of their death comes new heartache and healing. Finding simple ways to recognize and acknowledge their special day helps. It doesn't have to be grand. It only has to help you heal and hopefully put a smile on your face-as well as those around you.

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