When someone has experienced a loss it can feel strange and wrong to also say happy birthday. But birthdays occur every year regardless of other events.
So those grieving a loss will still have a birthday and you may want to reach out and acknowledge it.
But what do you say? Does it need to be different to a usual birthday greeting? Do you mention their grief and the person they lost?
Navigating the correct etiquette when saying happy birthday after a loss can be difficult. It’s understandable to not be sure of the right thing to say or what to avoid.
So hopefully this guide and the example birthday wishes after a loss provided here will help you to find the words to wish someone a happy birthday in an appropriate way even though they are coping with a bereavement.
How to Say Happy Birthday After a Death in the Family
Examples of what to say:
- I know it’s hard to celebrate at a time like this but I’m sending my birthday wishes and thinking of you today.
- I don’t know if you want to be alone this birthday but if you’d like a friend I’ll be there for you.
- This has been such a hard year for you and you may not feel like doing much this birthday but please remember we all care about you so much.
- I wasn’t sure if you wanted a present this year but I’ve got you one anyway. I’ll drop it off whenever is best for you. Happy birthday and I hope you can find a little bit of joy amongst the darkness.
- This will be a tough birthday but I promise it will get better from here.
- Sending you my birthday wishes and letting you know I’m here if you want to do anything this year. I’ll understand if you’d just like to forget this birthday though.
- I’m so sorry for your loss and for your birthday to have come at such a tragic time. I’ll be thinking of you.
- May you find some happiness this birthday. All my love.
- My condolences and sympathy on your birthday. Losing someone is always awful bits it’s especially painful around a birthday.
More tips for the etiquette around a birthday after a death:
When and Where
If you’re going to say happy birthday to someone after they’ve lost a loved one then be mindful of when and where you say it. Many people going through grief want to be left alone.
So saying happy birthday in public – be that amongst people or on social media – may lead to an outpouring of other people doing the same. This can be overwhelming for the bereaved and only make the situation worse.
It might be better to do it in a private setting away from others, on or offline. Or alternatively send a card, speak on the phone or send an email or text message to keep it between just yourselves.
Be there for them
Wishing them a happy birthday is important but more so is being there for support. During such a difficult time having the support of friends and family is essential to those grieving. And emotions will be heightened during a birthday.
So make an effort to be there for whoever’s birthday it is. Go and see them, get in contact in some way and help them to feel loved.
Sending a Gift
You can still send a birthday gift even after a loss. But it may require a little more thought than a regular present.
If you’re not sure what would be appropriate then try to think about what they would like but what is also going to be suitable considering the circumstances. A gift can take many forms and doesn’t have to be a standard present – maybe opt to cook them a meal or comforting food, offer to take them out somewhere or spend time with them etc.
READ MORE: Happy Birthday in Heaven Messages and Wishes
What Not to Say on a Birthday After the Loss of a Loved One
The main thing is to avoid upsetting or adding to the hurt of those grieving. That means being careful with what and how you say happy birthday.
Think of whoever you are wishing a happy birthday and how they would like to receive it (if at all). It’s not a one size fits all approach. Some people will appreciate you reaching out, some will want to continue as normal as they can and celebrate their birthday, others may want to forget about it entirely.
So you need to let them decide how they want to acknowledge their birthday in such difficult circumstances. Follow their lead and do all you can to help them feel as comfortable as possible.
Happy Birthday Wishes after the Death of a Father
- It’s your first birthday without your dad and I know you must be missing him so much. I don’t know how much you feel like celebrating but I wanted to reach out and wish you a happy birthday. I hope you’re doing ok.
- I can’t begin to understand what you’re going through. I’m always here for you though. Happy birthday.
- I’m so sorry your father isn’t with you to celebrate this birthday. I hope you can find some positives today.
- As you deal with the tragic passing of your father I hope you can still have a birthday that isn’t only bad memories.
- My most heartfelt birthday wishes. May your fathers memory be a blessing.
Birthday Wishes after the Death of a Mother
- I know going through a birthday so soon after losing your mom must be just awful.
- Sending big hugs and thoughts to you on this birthday. I know it will be so difficult after your moms passing but we are all here for you whatever you need.
- Happy birthday my friend. I hope the loss of your mom doesn’t ruin today. She would have wanted you to carry on and enjoy yourself.
- I can only imagine how tough today is. Happy birthday, anyway, and may you find the strength to get through.
- Even though everything is so hard at the moment I wanted to wish you a happy birthday. May you find a little light amongst the darkness today.
READ MORE: Happy Birthday in Heaven Mom Messages
Happy Birthday Wishes after the Loss of a Child
- I know that this must be so painful but we wanted to be there for you this birthday. Whatever you need know that you have the love and support of all of us around you.
- I completely understand if the last thing you are thinking about is your birthday but I still wanted to say I remembered and am thinking of you.
- Happy birthday, and may you find some peace today amidst the pain.
- No one should ever lose their child. I can’t even come close to imagining how heartbreaking it must be for you. A birthday is unimportant now but I am thinking of you and remembering it’s your day.
- Sending birthday wishes and prayers for you. Nothing will ease the pain but may you find better days in the future.
Birthday Messages after the Death of a Brother
- My most loving birthday wishes. I know you must still be hurting over your brother so understand if you’d rather forget this birthday.
- Your brother was such a great guy. Facing a birthday so soon after losing him must be dreadful. I’m so sorry for your loss and not sure it’s appropriate but wanted to wish you a happy birthday as well.
- A first birthday without your brother will be so hard. But remember you have the support and love of those closest to you. We will always be here. Happy birthday.
- Happy birthday and please accept my condolences for the recent loss of your brother.
Birthday Messages after the Death of a Sister
- No one will ever replace your sister. May you find some peace after a terrible loss and not remember this birthday for all the worst reasons.
- May you find some comfort on your birthday even whilst mourning the loss of your sister.
- I will never forget your sister. She was such an amazing person. I hope on your birthday you can remember the good times with her.
- I don’t know if wishing you a happy birthday is the right thing to do so soon after your sisters passing but I am hoping you can find even a little joy today.
How to wish Someone a happy Birthday after the Loss of a Husband
- I can only imagine you won’t want to face your birthday this year and understand completely why. But I wanted to send this quick message to say I’m thinking of you.
- Losing someone so special is beyond heartbreaking and makes a birthday seem irrelevant. All I wanted to say was I’m here for you if you need someone.
- Your husband was such a wonderful man. I hope your birthday doesn’t bring back too many unhappy memories and you can still enjoy your day.
- May the memory of your husband be with you on this birthday.
Birthday Wishes after the Death of a Wife
- Wishing you a happy birthday but with the knowledge that after your wife’s passing you may just want to be left alone.
- Thinking of you today and praying for you find some comfort. Your wife would want you to have a lovely birthday.
- Happy birthday and I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your wife.
- No one will be upset if you’d prefer to forget this birthday. You’ve experienced the worst thing that could possibly happen and the idea of celebrating at a time like this is understandably the furthest thing from your mind. Know that I am thinking of you though.
What to Say on the Birthday of a Deceased Loved One
- On the first birthday of [name] since they passed away I wanted to reach out to you and say I’m thinking of and here for you if you need anyone.
- I know that today will be almighty difficult for you. Any day that reminds you of a lost loved one will always be hard. But know that I’m here for you.
- Today would have been [names] birthday and we all miss him/her terribly. May the memories you so cherish be a blessing today and always.
- These big days that remind us of the important people we have lost from our lives are so hard to deal with. I know you will be remembering [name] today and wanted to send a note to say I’m thinking of you too. Stay strong.
Saying happy birthday after a death can be awkward. And knowing what the right thing to say tricky.
So hopefully these examples and tips will have helped you to find the right words to wish someone a happy birthday even after they have lost a loved one.
Sally Collins is a writer and the founder and owner of Sympathy Message Ideas. Her passion is to help others deal with grief and provide assistance with talking to those grieving. Learn more about Sally.