What is an Alive Day?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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An alive day is the date of an anniversary of a very close escape from death. People may choose to celebrate their alive days with parties, or with personal reflection, depending on personal taste and their relationship to the events which occurred on the day they narrowly missed dying. Friends and family may also mark these days with cards or gifts acknowledging their relationship with the near-deceased.

Members of the military have been celebrating alive days since the Vietnam War, and quite probably even earlier. Fighting in a war tends to increase the probability of dying, and it can seem miraculous to escape death after an engagement with the enemy. Military members are also tightly connected with each other, thanks to their unique experiences in war, and alive day parties can be one way to renew that connection and celebrate a safe return from the battlefield.

The concept of the alive day was popularized by a 2007 documentary, Alive Day Memories, which featured interviews with veterans of the Iraq War who talked about their experiences in battle and their celebrations. The soldiers profiled in the documentary were severely injured, and the film chronicled the ways in which they dealt with their injuries. Many Iraq War veterans have experienced amputations and severe brain injuries, and commemorating their alive days helps them to process the events which changed their lives.


One doesn't have to be a war veteran to celebrate an alive day. These days can commemorate major car accidents, falls which led to severe injuries, and other life-threatening events in someone's life. Since a close brush with death is often an intense and life-changing experience, recognizing the event with a celebration can be an important part of growing and changing. Some people also like to talk about the events which led to their life-threatening accident, with some choosing to speak to communities about their experiences in the hopes of preventing others from making choices which might put them into the same situation.


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Post 3

I think a lot of people deal with this event differently. This year will be my fifth anniversary of my alive day and only in the past year have I felt comfortable talking about it.

I had a similar event to the person listed above, meaning I had survivor's guilt. Everyone grieves differently. I'd say the best thing to do is make it into something different. Don't call it an alive day, try asking your friend to consider it a day of honor for his fallen comrades.

Post 2

A friend of mine just shared with me that he has alive days. He suggested I research alive days to get more information on the subject so I did and I came across your article about alive days.

In the article they say they celebrate alive days but in my friend's situation, he doesn't celebrate them -- in fact its quite the opposite. He gets depressed because his buddies are dead, so rather than celebrating that he is alive, he goes into seclusion and is depressed about his fallen buddies.

So I don't think he would feel he could celebrate his alive days. What should I do or can I really do anything? I would like to be able to turn it around and it become a positive thing for him and not a negative thing. Do you think that is possible?

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