A smile from Michael Jackson's boy Blanket as family prepares for first anniversary

Click here for a look in pictures at how events have unfolded in the12 months following the Thriller singer's passing.

It's a picture that will no doubt be of some comfort to Michael Jackson's millions of fans around the world. The king of pop's youngest son looking bright and happy on the eve of the first anniversary of his beloved father's death.

The eight-year-old laughed and smiled as he played in the surf with his friends in Hawaii, where he and his siblings Prince Michael, 13, and 12-year-old Paris were holidaying with their grandmother Katherine.

His bright appearance was worlds away from the sad and scared-looking little boy that attended the star-studded Michael Jackson memorial last year (pictured below).

Blanket and Michael's two other children were expected back in the music idol's hometown of Gary, Indiana on Friday to mark the Thriller singer's actual anniversary.

Katherine is expected to unveil a monument to the singer outside Michael's childhood home. Then there will follow a memorial and candlelight vigil, ending with a rendition of his song We Are The World.

Michael's mum this week said that time has done little to help her come to terms with the grief of losing her son.

"A year has gone by but it is still just as emotional. It's very hard sometimes," the 80-year-old told the Sun.

"I am happy that people are celebrating the anniversary because I know the world is missing and remembering him.

"But every day is a struggle – I miss him immensely."

Katherine says she is raising her grandchildren with a more lenient approach than their father did – sending them to school for the first time later this year.

"I don't put scarves over the children's faces. But we do have security everywhere they go, that's the way I've protected them," she says.