From the inbox comes the following question:
A post came across my Facebook feed that suggested that when working through a loved ones' death, you start a new holiday tradition in their memory. My widowed boyfriend has asked for my help in thinking of a tradition that will honor his late wife and respect me at the same time. I was friends with his late wife, so I know some things she would have liked, but am not sure what kind of holiday traditions we could do.
We have been dating for about a year, something that neither of us ever thought would happen. He tells me that his love for her does not at all diminish his love for me. We have talked through concerns about building our relationship while honoring his late wife. Last year he wanted to hang only the ornaments that his mother made, on my Christmas tree. This year, he put up his own tree. Please help me think of a tradition that we could do together.
As a rule of thumb, the two of you should only be involved in activities and traditions that bring the two of you closer together instead of pulling you apart. Coming up with a tradition or activity that will honor the late wife doesn't do that. It also doesn’t respect you. Activities or traditions that “honor” the late wife pull widowers back into the past and drive a small wedge between him and whomever he’s dating at the time.
The best way a widower can honor his wife is to move forward with his life and be happy. That doesn't mean he forgets about her or the life they shared together but it means he rebuilds his life in such a way that he’s not burdened by sadness or regret. It means he can wake up in the morning and spend each day living in the present and look forward to the future instead of being held back by the past.
If you and your widower want to strengthen your relationship this holiday season, start some new traditions that honor the life the two of you have together. It could be as simple as some new ornaments for a Christmas tree or taking a trip to see some Christmas lights. Maybe it’s a special gift that means something just to the two of you or taking an annual holiday trip together. Whatever it is, make it unique and meaningful to your relationship. Spend some time together and talk about it and see what the two of you can come up with. That way this time next year you’ll both have something to look forward to and be able to look back at this Christmas with smiles and warm hearts.