Should You Maintain Holiday Traditions After Loss?

Grief is challenging enough to deal with during a normal time, but with the upcoming holidays, your loss may seem more profound. Often the questions arise with my clients as to whether or not to maintain holiday traditions. The truth is whether or not you do, the loss will be felt.

A common mistake is to try to ignore the absence. One family member may even fill the need to make everything appear as “normal” as possible, taking over the role of the lost loved one in maintaining traditions.

These coping defenses may seem like a good idea at the time, but could turn into the elephant in the room in the middle of your holiday dinner; thus creating undue stress for everyone.

It is healthy to acknowledge the death of your loved one and easier to do with family. Sharing memories together can be instrumental in the healing process.

Planning is the key to setting realistic expectations for the holiday season. Decide together what traditions are meaningful to the family to maintain and which ones you may want to drop this year. The goal of traditions is to create lasting memories and bring family members closer together.

You may want to use this time discuss a way to honor your loved one during the season. This could result in a new family tradition.
Understand that everyone grieves differently. Be kind to each other as you decide what this holiday season will look like. Remember next year, you can reevaluate if something seems too painful this year.


Written by: Ann Sheerin