Traditions bring us connection to the past. They unite us in our families and our histories, and give us a sense of belonging and stability.
After a loss, traditions big and small sometimes have to change, causing a bump in the road on your journey with grief.
That’s why we put together the Perspectives on Grief blog series. Periodically, we share the perspectives of our caring staff members who have been personally impacted and touched by a loss. It’s our hope that these personal stories help you find a sense of comfort throughout your grief journey.
It’s not common to be in your forties and still have three living grandparents. I was very fortunate to not only have them in my life but also be able to have them in the lives of my husband and son.
My Nan was on her journey of 103 years around the sun, and my Gram and Gramp were both well into their nineties. Each of them had rich lives filled with all the happiness and heartbreak living a century is bound to bring.
In a short succession, all three of them had passed away.
I remember having a conversation with my Aunt Claudia while both her parents (my Gram and Gramp) were still living—she was concerned about what would happen to our family after they passed. They were the core of our family, and she yearned for family traditions to continue in the same way they always had.
We all know there is tremendous comfort in things remaining the same. In our case, it was knowing we will see the entire family on Christmas afternoon, waiting to see which grandchild Gramp will choose to help him pass out all the gifts. That my Nan would be at the cottage helping my mother to bake a pie. That my Gram, surrounded by her granddaughters, would always make each of us feel like her favorite.
My Aunt Claudia was right to be concerned. Certain traditions drifted away when that generation of our family passed on. While we may not gather as a large family like we used to, new traditions have taken form.
The family core does not always hold and while that may be disheartening, there are ways to cope and navigate through the grief. The first step in making sense of what comes next is having a good support system. Although things may be different for our family traditions nowadays, we are still able to reach out to each other and share a laugh or cry at the mention of a funny story or simple memory from the past.
It is in the trying where progress is made with our grief work. It is in the progress where the grief subsides a bit and new traditions begin.
My parents are now the older generation. Along with their siblings, they carry the yoke of the family gatherings and traditions—traditions that they have had to reinvent in their sixties and seventies amidst the grief of lost parents, and the joy of growing extended families.
My dad now chooses one of his grandchildren to help him pass out the Christmas gifts. My cousin's children get to experience Lake Huron with my aunt and uncle as grandparents much like my cousin did with my Nan. My own son has yearly expectations around holidays and birthdays that we celebrate to make memories.
We continue in the memory of those who came before and tried hard to make our lives comfortable and meaningful. I have learned with the sure understanding that the core barely ever holds together and that someday my husband and I will be the ones yoked with the responsibility of creating new traditions that will live on long after we are all gone.
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In the days, weeks and months following a loss, it’s important to remember the grieving process has no set timeline. To help guide you through your grief journey, we encourage you to sign up for our weekly newsletter, A Journey Towards Healing. When you subscribe, you’ll receive weekly emails of encouragement across an entire year of your grief experience.
Skillfully and compassionately manages our Avon and Avon Lake locations. Meghan and her husband, Bill, enjoy vacations with their son Otto, while also supporting community, church and school events. Graciously serving Busch families since 1998.