The things that once filled you with joy will no longer put a smile on your face. It doesn't feel like a celebration anymore when they're not around.
The only reason why I loved Christmas so much was that she loved it so much. We both would eagerly count the days down, bring out every single decoration in the house and watch the glee on the little ones' faces as they walked into our mini-winter wonderland.
But I no longer look forward to Christmas the same way I used to. When an irreplaceable loved one is taken away from you, you suddenly feel numb to everything around you. The infectious joy in the air no longer fills you with excitement. The sight of the entire neighborhood lit up with lights no longer puts a smile on your face. Because without them, Christmas is no longer the most wonderful time of the year.
It took me years before I was even able to celebrate Christmas again. But no matter what I did, it never felt the same.
You can try to replicate everything the same way that your loved one would have done, but it will still never feel the same way. When you put up the lights, you will miss the sound of them humming along to their favorite Christmas carol. When you're decorating the Christmas tree, you won't hear the delight in their voice as they tease you about putting up the baubles the wrong way.
The first couple of years without her, the holiday season became something I would dread because Christmas doesn't feel complete without their presence in it.
I tried my earnest best to recreate every wonderful tradition that we had. But the more I tried to recreate my memories, the more I was reminded of how much I miss her.
You can try to make their favorite pecan cookies shaped as snowflakes, just like the way they used to make it; but you will struggle to swallow them without tears welling up in your eyes. When your entire family slips into those ugly Christmas sweaters like your loved ones do every year, you will remember the old Christmas sweater of theirs hanging in their cupboard.
Every family tradition that you used to share with them will now fill you with anguish; they only remind you of your loss rather than fill you with warmth like they used to. With time, however, it gets better. You will still be reminded of spending the holidays with them as the year approaches an end, but as you move forward and grow, you will slowly learn to let go of the pain of losing them while cherishing the memories you had together.
I was convinced that carrying forward all those traditions would mean that I was keeping her memory alive. But in doing so, I was only constantly reminded of my grief.
I realized that it's okay that Christmas won't be the same without your lost loved ones. And the only way to heal and bring back the magic of Christmas is by letting it be different. It might not reduce the amount of grief you feel, but you find it a lot more bearable during the holidays.
You can make new traditions with your family and still reminisce all the wonderful memories that your loved one left you with. You will remember them for the wonderful person that they were and remind yourself that they would've wanted to see you happy.
Even as you create new traditions, you will still have those moments where you miss them dearly. When you look at the chair they used to sit on at the dinner table, you may still picture them roaring with laughter whilst being surrounded by the entire family. But you will remember them for the joy they used to bring and celebrate their memory while making new ones.