Holidays are celebrated and kept precious with traditions. In this constantly changing world, we cling to the comfort of something constant.
So, losses often hit us the hardest in times of tradition. Suddenly, the way we’ve always done this is changed forever and it’s devastating.
My husband died, will anyone remember to get ME a present this year?
How do I even get out of bed Christmas morning without my child?
Mom always loved hosting New Years Eve – do we do it without her?
Sometimes traditions just accentuate the painful loss and cease to be sources of comfort. Some traditions die with people. This is where the need for new traditions is very real and important.
I think the biggest obstacle to creating new traditions is awkwardness or fear.
It’s incredible how good we can be at NOT saying what is most on our minds. It’s the first Christmas Eve without grandpa but everyone is too afraid to say anything.
There are many excuses for staying silent. But there is a deep human need to speak, hear the names, and tell the stories of our loved ones.
At our Candlelight Service of Remembrance last week I was talking with Paulette, one of our lovely Service Directors. She was telling me about her family’s Thanksgiving and how they took time before their meal to pause and cherish the memory of all the family members that had died. Some of the deaths were more peripheral or only significant to one or two people but their loss was named and their grief was counted. A profound space was made for their family.
When I asked if this was a tradition she said, “Oh yes, every year and we always have a single candle lit for everyone who has died.”
Actions and words empower, embolden, and open up the opportunity for connection. And what are traditions? Actions and words on repeat. Our traditions should connect us and promote healing and honesty and if they don’t, they ought to be adjusted.
If you are grieving this year, I would deeply encourage you to enfold an act of remembrance into your holiday traditions.
I promise you that incorporating a practice of remembering into your holiday tradition will bring you and many others profound peace.
Wishing a meaning-full holiday time