When we are in mourning, the pain becomes unbearable. As much as we wish to escape the anguish, it is necessary to face it before we can move beyond it. When the feelings come, let them. It is not necessary to put up a front; let people know if you’re having a tough day. Don’t hide your feelings from children in an effort to be strong for them or to protect them. You’ll only be teaching them to deny their own feelings.
It is best not to isolate yourself too much. You may not feel much like celebrating, but accepting a few invitations to spend time with close friends or family can provide great comfort.
Some of us are inclined to turn to drink. Alcohol is a depressant, so drinking serves only to worsen the heartache, not to mention all the other complications created by substance abuse.
Families can spend so many years following the same patterns and routines that we forget these traditions were made by others, suitable to their experience. Customs created under different circumstances may no longer be appropriate for the newly bereaved and it becomes necessary to make changes in the routine.
Change and adjustment are essential for those in mourning. The early stages of grief require new practices. Even customs “set in stone” need to be modified. We need to remember to include other grieving members of the family, especially children, in the decisions regarding family customs.
Incorporate the memory of your dearly departed into the holidays: Share your favorite stories over dinner. Make a toast or light a candle in remembrance. Making a contribution to a favorite charity, donating a book to the library or making a plan to plant a tree in their memory is of great solace. This in itself may become part of your revised holiday tradition. Traditions bind families and societies tightly to one another. But altering our traditions to suit our current state of affairs makes sense. Each moment, each stage of life, demands its own customs and its own rituals. For while family tradition serves to build a bridge from the past to the present, an adaptation of custom is necessary to take us into the future.