When a loved one dies


#1

My dad passed away on January 30. Do Catholics not celebrate any holidays for one year after a loved one passes? For instance, Easter, Christmas of this year - I remember as a child my girlfriend told me that she didn’t celebrate Christmas after a death in family and didn’t send out Christmas cards. Anyone hear of this? thanks


#2

I’m so sorry for your loss. Greiving is a natural part of healing after the death of a family, but I have not heard of this extending into one’s participation in the liturgical Holy Days of the Church, nor in the secular celebration of holidays.

It may be a personal thing for this individual.


#3

We are the people of the Resurrection and even during Lent we make exceptions for St. Patrick’s Day and the feast of St. Joseph. We can also have what we gave up for Lent on Sundays! I don’t think God would ask us to not celebrate in the birth and resurrection of his beloved Son. Be joyful!


#4

I know that when I am grieving the loss of a loved one, those first holidays without them are tough. So I don’t feel like sending out Christmas cards, for example, because I need to expend more energy on just getting through that time. But to deliberately not celebrate Christmas or Easter is not right. Life goes on and as Christians we are to always remember God’s promise of Resurrection. To not celebrate Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is to ignore our Faith. Our Faith is what gets us through these difficult times.


#5

First, I am sorry for your loss. As for your question, this is not a requirement for Catholics and I’ve never heard of a Catholic doing or advocating it. I assume that you would be free to do so however(as long as you don’t miss Mass on days of obligation) if it somehow helps you in the grieving process. What you describe is in fact a Jewish tradition. My new wife, who is Jewish, lost her grandmother last summer. Her aunts have not attended any celebration (except for our wedding, at which they did not dance) since, and don’t plan to until her 1 year anniversary. I suppose for some people such a course of action can be beneficial, but it wouldn’t work for me.


#6

i’ve never heard of Catholics doing this. i have a coworker who is Native American, and her family does this. unfortunately, they have had a lot of deaths in the past few years; i can’t imagine not celebrating holidays, etc. for that many years.

i’m sorry about your loss. my mom died in january as well. my b-day in february was a little hard, but would have been harder if we chose not to celebrate it. Easter will be a little hard, too, but i’ve been getting ready for it nonetheless. i don’t think i could grieve just because i was “supposed” to be doing it. i think i would become depressed. also, i will always miss my mom; i won’t be over my grief in a year.


#7

first I would like to say I am sorry for your loss. Everyone reacts a little differently, but most people just have subdued celebrations the first year after a loss of a family member.

It isn’t right to not celebrate holy days at all but in my family after a death the holidays were downplayed a bit. When my FIL died in Dec one year, nobody was in a particularly celebratory mood that year. We didn’t do the big Christmas Party, rather opted for a quieter family gathering. When my dad died all the firsts were difficult for mom. Rather than mom hosting these holidays, my sisters held dinner at their house so mom didn’t have to exert herself more than she was ready to do. It isn’t a “Catholic” thing, I think it is more a compassionate thing in respect to the widow or parent of the deceased.


#8

I have never heard of that custom. I agree with pp that while you certainly may not feel like celebrating, sometimes you need to carry on with life to get “back to normal” a bit. My mom died when I was 18 and we still celebrated Christmas, etc. Actually we still get together for Mother’s Day and her birthday which is really nice, go out for dinner and then take flowers to the cemetery. I was originally getting married on Mother’s Day weekend as my “gift” to her, her lastborn out of the house :wink:


#9

Shoot, my father was Irish…we were celebrating with a family get together about 6 hours after he died.


closed #10

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.