Grief after a loved one passes is like nothing else. It can be debilitating; we can find ourselves spiralling into a pit of despair, only to crawl out the other end and think, “Okay. This is okay. I got through it”.
We can’t prepare for grief. And we also can’t prepare for secondary moments of grief we encounter over time, when situations arise and the person you’d most want there is no longer around. Their absence at the first Christmas after their passing is noticed. Their birthday, sans parties or traditions. Their best friend’s wedding: missed. And with every absence comes the absence of yet another tradition; a car ride together, getting ready together, dinner at the same place every year. It’s hard not to notice that they’re no longer there.
If you’re struggling with your friend, family member, or partner no longer being here – and the traditions you’ve lost with them – then now might be the perfect time to create some new traditions. Here are 5 of our favourite ways to create new traditions while honouring your loved one.
1. Regularly donate to a charity
There are so many incredible Australian charities who are always on the lookout for donors. Brainstorm organisations your loved one was passionate about – or organisations that might be of relevance to them or their state prior to passing – and send a donation their way.
2. Remember them through food
Did your loved one have a favourite food? Do you remember them every time you see or taste something in particular? Did they make a specific cake for your birthday every year? Or maybe they had a favourite restaurant they visited every week?
Regardless of how you connect them with food, find a way to ensure their favourite food(s) are present at every celebration or gathering. Or, on their birthday each year, reserve a table at their favourite restaurant. Not only will you be honouring them as a foodie, but you’ll no doubt get to devour some tasty food, too.
3. Share their clothes around with friends and family
If they were known for their impeccable or iconic style, offer some of their clothes to family and friends before donating the rest to charity. This can be a wonderful way to keep your loved one in your life (and might help others in feeling their presence, too!) while paying tribute to their style and pieces that were unmistakably theirs.
4. Tell stories and share memories
Talking about your loved one is important. Share special stories whenever the moment feels right, and even turn celebrations like their birthday or Christmas Eve into one of memory-sharing. Traditions like these can be a lovely addition to what is often a challenging time for those experiencing grief.
5. Save their seat at the table
If your loved one always had a set seat at the table, consider either saving it for them permanently to honour their absence, or pass the seat on to a new permanent addition to your meals or holiday celebrations. A new partner, child, or friend can be a lovely addition.
There are many other weird and wonderful ways you can truly honour your deceased loved one. The world’s your oyster when it comes to creating new traditions after their passing. So be creative, don’t be afraid to do something a little different, and be patient with yourself if it takes a little time to find the perfect new tradition. Primary grief is hard, and finding ways to combat secondary grief can be even harder. All we know is: You’ve got this.
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