Friendship hack:

I wanted to share something I’ve done for years, but always seems to surprise people. It’s a really small and easy thing to do, but seems to make a really big difference to your friends and loved ones.

Every time a friend mentions an important date for them (it’s often the anniversaries of loved ones’ deaths), add it to the calendar on your phone and (this is really important!) set it to recur yearly with 3 notifications: one one week before, one three days before and one on the day at a time you’ll actually normally have space to send a message to that person.

The reminders are important because they will give you time to buy a card or plan something if you want to, and act as a prompt for you to recognise that your loved one might seem a bit off or distracted in the days leading up to the anniversary and allow you to be extra compassionate.

Maybe it seems insensitive to just add something to your phone rather than commit it to memory but it’s not easy to remember lots of dates (at least for me). This way you get to let your loved one know you’re thinking of them. I’ve done a lot of grief counselling and a consistent message that comes through is that people don’t want to have to remind others about the person they’ve lost. Even if you don’t know what to say, acknowledging what’s happened and letting them know you know will mean a lot to them. It helps them feel less alone and opens a door for them to talk about their loved one if they want to.