It’s OK to keep old traditions & It’s OK to have new traditions.
Traditions. Why do we have them?
Traditions are part of what makes us human. Traditions are beliefs or behaviors we pass down as a family unit and society. They have unique and significant meanings to us. Traditions are special and yet can be tricky when life changes. When a loved one passes, one of the first reactions may be to hold on to everything. It is hard to let go of anything. We want everything to be the same. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and that has become the new reality for all of us who have suffered a loss.
So, when it comes to traditions, what to do?
Every family has traditions that they cherish and that help them to hold on to family from the past, celebrate the present and pass them down to future generations. Traditions help us to feel a sense of belonging, they can give us sweet memories and lift us up. They can be part of the storytelling we pass down to the next generation. When we marry, we share these traditions and build on them together. They have become a part of our life together and now, we have to face these traditions alone.
It may be that not all of the traditions may be serving us well. Some are stressful, painful, annoying, frustrating, or simply do not hold the same place in your life anymore.
Taking a moment to look at the traditions that are in place in your life and your celebrations can be helpful in moving forward in your journey. It is OK to look at these traditions and identify the ones that give you joy, comfort, and/or peace. These are the ones that you may want to keep in your life or build upon as you move forward. It is also OK to acknowledge those traditions that are no longer serving you or your family, and it is perfectly OK to allow them to fade from your experiences. In addition, there may be other traditions that you want to start or include in your celebrations. Starting new traditions is a way to help process the loss and make new memories.
When we lost our husbands, we found that some of our traditions brought us comfort and peace while others brought anxiety and other uncomfortable icky emotions. The first year, we tried to hold onto everything we did to try to keep things the same. Losing any of what was done seemed to add to our loss, yet keeping them took anxiety and sadness to an all-time high. As time went by, we found that we could keep doing some of it. We didn’t have to do all of it to have a successful celebration.
At first, new traditions may seem like a foreign concept, and that’s OK. You may want to skip the old traditions and holidays completely. It’s OK to say no and skip what you want. Here are some ideas for new traditions -you can add ANYTHING that works for you!:
- Travel- Some find that travel can be a new way of working through difficult holidays. A new place can add a new perspective.
- Taking a moment to acknowledge the loss in a way that is important to you.
- Volunteering and giving is a terrific tradition to start at any time and can involve the entire family…if you are up to it.
You can celebrate in a new way, and you don’t have to do that thing that was stressful. You can mindfully drop the traditions that no longer serve you or give you positive energy. It’s also perfectly OK not to start any new traditions.
The best we can offer is to find what works for you and do that. It is OK to say no to those who insist on things being the same. They can keep those traditions if they want to. You can decide to keep the ones that make you happy, comfort you, and bring you joy. Let the others go. It’s OK to do new things and start new traditions. Celebrate in ways that allow you to honor your past, be present in the now, and look to the future without anxiety and stress.
It’s OK to keep old traditions, and it’s OK to have new ones. It is OK. Take care of yourself and do what works for you.
Please share our site and resources with others in your life who might benefit from our work.
Many Blessings to you this Holiday Season,
Jeni & Teresa
PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss
Torn in Half: The First Days as a resource for the first days after a loss - available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.