The holidays can be particularly difficult after the loss of a loved one. Some may even dread the holiday season and wonder if they will ever look forward to it again. While holidays may not be the same without your lost loved one there, there is still a way to make them meaningful. Instead of shutting down, use your feelings to redefine the holidays and celebrate your loved ones. This could mean doing away with old traditions that don’t have any meaning and replacing them with new traditions that make your lost loved one’s part of the celebration still. Here are five new traditions you can incorporate:

  1. Light a candle and say a prayer
    • If you are religious, you can light a candle and say a prayer to your lost loved one.
  2. Have everyone share a favorite memory
    • Once everyone is together, maybe during dinner, go around and have everyone can share their favorite story of your loved one. Making space for others to talk about lost loved ones invites conversation that may be uncomfortable for them to initiate but is important for preserving memories and allowing a connection.
  3. Make your loved one’s favorite dish
    • Every family has the traditional foods they have at holiday meals but why not add a new dish? Pick one of your loved one’s favorite dishes and add it to the menu. You can even name the dish after your loved one such as “Auntie’s Famous Grits” or “Grandma’s Bread Pudding.”
  4. Repeat one of their favorite traditions
    • Did your loved one have a tradition they once loved or tried to start? If so, you can add the tradition to this year’s holiday celebration.
  5. Look back at old photos and videos
    • Reminiscing over old photos and videos can be a great way to keep your loved one’s memory alive.

There is no right or wrong way to grief and it can look different for everyone. This holiday season, pay attention to your needs and do what feels right for you and your family.