How to celebrate your dead lover’s birthday.

Bill’s birthday is coming up in a few days. We were together thirty-three years as a couple. I organized thirty-three birthday celebrations for him. Then he died of cancer. Now I’m at a loss, in so many ways, one of which is what to do when his birthday rolls around. So, I’m brainstorming ideas.

Your suggestions would be welcomed.

Here are options that I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Buy the most expensive gift he always wanted but I was too stingy to buy for him while he was alive.
  3. Cry all day.
  4.  Bake his favourite type of birthday cake and then eat it all myself.
  5. Bake his favourite type of birthday cake and then invite all his friends over to share it (except he had far too many friends to accommodate in our condo).
  6. Bake his favourite type of birthday cake and then hand out pieces on the street to complete strangers.
  7. Hire a skywriting plane to spell out “Happy Birthday, my darling” (except if he’s in heaven looking down, wouldn’t the lettering appear backwards?)
  8. Go out and find a new lover and pretend that he’s Bill.
  9. Go out and find a new lover and pretend that he’s Bill’s birthday present to me.
  10. Write a celebratory memoir about our thirty-three years together (oh yeah, I already did that.)
  11. Fill our condo with his favourite colour flowers (purple) to thank him for the wonderful years we shared.
  12. Fill our condo with his least favourite colour flowers (yellow) to spite him for dying way too early.
  13. Play his favourite music all day and then respond accordingly (cf. #3 above).
  14. Play his least favourite music all day in hopes of provoking him to return to switch it off.
  15. Use his life insurance payout to buy an expensive Armani black suit and wear it all day as my widow’s weeds.
  16. Use his life insurance payout to buy food for starving children in Africa.
  17. Figure out why he had never gotten life insurance.
  18. Spend the day looking through all our old picture albums and respond accordingly (cf. #3 above).
  19. Book a daylong session with a therapist.
  20. Book a daylong session with a hunky masseur.
  21. Ask other widows and widowers how they handle their dead lover’s birthday (what a good idea for a blog).
  22. Tell others in relationships to treasure their partner and be sure as hell not to forget their birthday.
  23. Ask others who are not in a relationship what they think they would do for a birthday celebration if they had a lover.
  24. Ask others who are not in a relationship if they’d like to be in relationship with me (use as an inducement my stellar history in celebrating my lover’s birthday).
  25. All of the above and then respond accordingly (cf. #3 above). 

Bill and I relaxing together after celebrating one of his birthdays many years ago:


My memoir “August Farewell” tells the story of the two weeks between my partner Bill’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and his death. Interspersed among the scenes are vignettes from our thirty-three years together as a gay couple.

Information on “August Farewell” and on my novel “Searching for Gilead”, including YouTube video book trailers on each, is available on my website at

Both the memoir and the novel are available for order from your local bookseller or on-line retailers including,,,,



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7 responses to “How to celebrate your dead lover’s birthday.

  1. Almost 2/3 through August Farewell, I doubt spiteful celebrations are in your nature :). I think some combination of #5, 11 and 13, with a healthy dose of 22 sounds like a damn fine party worthy of Bill’s birthday. And likely, a lot of #3.

  2. Charles Silverstein in his memoir of his life with his lover William Bory , "FOr the Ferryman," has photos of him and a group of friends at the William Bory Memorial totem pole, and another group of friends in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2006 on the Charles Silverstein Memorial Vacation Group.Silverstein was the one who spoke before the APA in 1973 to get homosexuality as a mental disease taken off the DSM.Personally, 20, 22, and a healthy dose of #3

  3. Denny Young

    Good questions! Personally, I’m leaning toward: 11, 15, 20 and 22. Somehow I think those are all things that Bill would appreciate. Lovely piece David. Remembering Apr 2.DY

  4. Jeff Ballam

    What a beautiful post! I am partial to #11, purple flowers are my favorite, too! And maybe a little of number 20.

  5. Ray McGinnis

    I think booking the hunky masseur is a winner. You get relaxing, sensual touch and have something to look forward to on Bill’s birthday. Thanks for the post David ~ great list.

  6. Marilyn Hollinger

    Hi David,Many creative ideas that you might do. Since it is Bill’s birthday celebration, have you asked him what he would like you to do? He may have an idea that would be especially memorable for both of you. Your relationship has changed it has not ended!

  7. Great post! Your list really runs the gamut… I vote for 19, followed by 20!

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