2020 has brought on all new changes moving forward.
The worst thing you can do as the holiday’s approach and you are grieving a loved one is close your eyes, cover your ears, and hope that things work themselves out. Not only does this put you at risk of being majorly blindsided by your grief, but it also takes away from your traditions.
In grief, we typically yearn for the ‘good old days’. Logically this leads us to think if only you could keep your family traditions the same you might realize that past sense of safety and comfort for yourself and for your family. Yet your loved one has died and you must acknowledge things will be different.
This is the time to rethink the traditions and rituals and decide which ones you want to keep as you move forward.
Consider this, when you engage in ritual just because it’s the way we have always done it, you may have lost the meaning. It really may not be to anyone’s benefit. It is at this point, that it may begin to unravel and turn into something meaningless and obligatory.
Tradition and ritual are things you do recurrently, but they are not routine. They should be chosen with intention. They should be deliberate links that connect you and are your loved ones together. If they become automatic actions like buckling your seatbelt or brushing your teeth they lose meaning, and you are just going through the motions.
If your traditions were built with meaning and purpose then they will provide participants with a sense of identity, comfort, and security. The meaning of ritual is what makes it so important.
If you are struggling with the gloomy prospect of altered holidays and disrupted tradition, I’d like to offer you a few things to consider…
- Don’t fall into the trap of compare and despair
If you were worried about how your holiday will measure up to the past, you can stop right there. Things have changed and your holiday won’t be the same. As you try to go about your everyday life, you adjust to your loved one not being present. It is the same for the holidays. You will have to recreate and refine the holiday traditions that you find meaning in.
- Change is okay – and it doesn’t necessarily need to be permanent
Change is a natural part of life. We can allow some elasticity when it comes to family tradition and ritual. This likely means having to accept new roles, new responsibilities, and a new perspective.
I’m willing to bet your family makeup has changed plenty of times over the years and your traditions have adapted. It’s important to be open to change and to experiencing meaning in your rituals even if they may be altered. Although it’s tough to change traditions your deceased loved one was a part of, being together and being at peace should be the top priority. You can always reinstate an old tradition in the future.
- Tradition isn’t about perfection
After a death, it’s common to feel a lot of pressure for the holidays to be perfect. How could your holiday possibly be “perfect” without your deceased loved one? They can’t, and it is okay. When it comes to family, imperfection is perfection. Working together, with all of your flaws, to remember and be grateful will help deepen family bonds and create a supportive environment for grief during the holidays.