How to Handle Holiday Traditions Without a Loved One

When we lose a loved one, everything changes. In light of COVID-19, we don’t know what will happen next, especially with the holidays approaching. Certain traditions and celebrations may need to change – and it’s at the forefront of our minds.

Our Woodlawn Cemetery Staff knows that holiday traditions are important to the families in the Bronx and may pose a particular challenge to those who have lost a loved one this year. Below, we offer insight on how to handle your favorite holiday traditions without that special person present.

Talk about the person you’re grieving

Experts say it’s important to continue talking about a loved one who has died. While it may seem easier to avoid thinking about them and steer conversations away if the topics become too painful, this can intervene with a healthy grieving process. Set aside time every holiday season to commemorate your loved one. Focusing on funny and happy memories will lighten the mood and offer a great way to heal from sadness.

While you’re sharing these cherished memories, why not start a new holiday tradition in their honor? It’s a great way to remember the unique life they lived, and you might be surprised at the revitalization you’ll feel after celebrating a new tradition. You might be feeling pressure to make this season as “normal” as possible, but traditions don’t have to be perfect, and they probably won’t be this year.

Things will change

Remember that change is absolutely okay and welcome, and it won’t do any good to compare your life now to what it was before. Change is inevitable, and it only becomes easier when we welcome it with open arms. This time of the year is about making these alterations fit into your life now. This could mean ending some traditions, continuing others, or even starting new ones like we mentioned above. It can be daunting or uncomfortable to let go of certain ways of doing things, but closing yourself off only makes it more difficult for you and those around you to heal.

What NOT to do

Perhaps one of the most harmful things to do during this time is to breeze over November and December like nothing ever happened. Going through the holidays on autopilot with no genuine thoughts or feelings will only make the grief overwhelm and rush over you tenfold when it does come. Keep the same customs in your family, but you must acknowledge that a loved one is gone and that things will change – only then will you know sheer value and comfort of tradition.

We hope these ideas help our families in the Bronx grapple with the upcoming holiday season. Talk to friends and family you trust or seek help from a licensed mental health professional if you need further assistance. Know you can always contact us for help or aftercare guidance. Our staff is here for you.