Mourning the Loss of Traditions and Events This Year?  Times Are Different, But Can Still Be Special

Photo by Marc Babin on Unsplash


Routine… tradition… consistency – these are all extremely important factors in providing stability to children, and adults depend on them to stay on track as well.

We’ve experienced some unprecedented times this year, and have sadly seen many of the events and celebrations with which we build tradition and a foundation for our families postponed – or cancelled altogether.

While this upheaval of normal life won’t last forever, the disruption in the activities we count on can be tough to handle – and families have a particularly difficult task in adapting while maintaining a feeling of security.

No matter how you’ve adapted to the events of 2020, chances are, you’ve felt the weight of change.

Each year of our lives comes with important milestones and celebrations – large events and small ones – that give us something to look forward to and provide opportunities to bond and create memories with those we love.

There are the daily routines and traditions that we depend on – school functions, church services, family dinners, and Saturday matinees at the movie theater…

… And even more special, the birthdays, parades, concerts, and holiday gatherings held each year, all building on one another to form tradition and unity.

And then, there are the once-in-a-lifetime events that can never be replicated – weddings, graduations, and milestone birthdays.  We’ve spent months planning for these special events, and we’ve had to cancel many of them this year due to social restrictions and closures.

Our children look forward to these times.  Their foundation for the future is built upon them – building relationships with family and friends, using them as a means to cope with transition, and as a form of structure, trust, and consistency.

So how do we cope with the loss of these important times that we may never get back?  And what is the long-term impact of such a disruption on all of us – and the disappointment that comes with it?

Because every family is different, as is the way each adult and child reacts to disappointment and change, the answer is not clear-cut.  It is an answer that will take time to discover as we navigate through the coming months.

Very little research is available on the social ramifications of everything we’ve been dealing with in our nation this year.

Generations past have had their own life-changing experiences that shaped their families – that created a need to adapt their own celebrations and traditions – many that we have adopted and practice to this day.

This year will likely be one that will cause us to look at things much differently than we used to.

For children especially, there is a sense of loss — one that needs to be addressed.

For parents, a sadness and additional stress at not being able to give our children the experiences they so depend on to feel secure.

The good news is, we will all return to some sense of normalcy eventually, and this time of uncertainty can strengthen our family bonds and teach our children resilience.

Many of us have probably discovered ways to celebrate and maintain traditions within the confines of limitations placed on all of us recently.

Our old traditions will always be there, but they can be adapted, even creating beloved new memories.

While the closure of schools has been a rough transition for many families, it has given us more time to spend with our children – and learn a little about ourselves along the way.  We’ve had to re-evaluate and restructure our days, but our children will always remember we were there during this time.

Were you faced with cancelling your child’s birthday party with their friends this year?  We’re willing to bet you came up with some creative ideas to celebrate at home with what you had on hand.  And while there may have been disappointment, your child will never forget how they were made to feel special.

Losing a once-in-a-lifetime moment like a high-school graduation, senior prom, or other milestones can, and should, be mourned for the loss they are.

While finding special ways to bring our families together can help ease disappointment, it is still important to acknowledge that the disappointment exists, and that it is okay to have different feelings and emotions when things are out of our control.

The bottom line is staying positive and supportive, no matter how our children are adapting to and processing all the changes they’ve been through.

Families can work together to find temporary ways to celebrate all the little things that we’ve been missing this year.

If your town cancels the Fourth of July parade, break out the craft box and have a family parade in the backyard.

If your child’s big dance or piano recital was cancelled this spring, hold a family performance via Zoom – and don’t forget the cupcakes and flowers that would have been a part of it.

Set aside one night a week for a family night to practice your child’s favorite sport in the backyard, and have everyone dress in their typical team colors.

Crises have a way of making us stronger, but that strength can only come from being supportive and understanding of each other’s feelings.

Whether our children are feeling anger or resentment at the loss of school plays and football games and lots of family being around, or they seem to be handling all the change in routine well, it’s important to talk – and listen – often.

In the end, adaptation and resilience are some of the most important traits we can teach our children.  The crises we’re all experiencing this year can be an opportunity to instill those traits.

Family, not events or activities, is what creates security and builds trust in each other.  And we can all rest assured that as long as family is there for each other, the disappointment experienced this year can be eased by sticking together through it all.