Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

Filomena Kaguako

The Orgasm Gap: ‘We have this frustrating myth that sex is easy and innate’

Aoife Drury

Single parenting in a pandemic: ‘I cry alone in the car so the kids don’t...

Lia Hynes

Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know


Why the 2021 Golden Globes are being overshadowed by controversy

Jennifer McShane

3 rural homes in Co Cork on sale for €175,000 and under

Megan Burns

GALLERY: Beautiful gowns from The Golden Globes through the years

Jennifer McShane

Practical and stylish: 12 baskets we absolutely love for every budget

Megan Burns

Image / Editorial

Things Fall Apart: Take control of your life by making new traditions

by Lia Hynes
10th Dec 2018

When Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And the most traditional. Which, if you fall outside the confines of what is considered traditional, can feel a little difficult.

Related: It’s okay to go into hibernation when
things get too much 

All those 2.4 family ads. All those songs about people having the time of their lives. Although special mention should go to Boots for their Christmas ad this year, which could be seen to suggest a single-mother and daughter relationship.

The worship of familial bliss at this time of year though – of the traditional – can feel like a sledgehammer if it’s not your reality.

Make your own tradition

So why not make your own traditional? Your own traditions to go with your new reality.

When things first fall apart, striking up new traditions out of the void that’s been created gives a sort of scaffolding to life. Habits that will prop you up when grief is exhausting, but you can’t (or don’t want) to just give in; to take to bed or stay on the couch.

Doings that first force you out into the world, and which then quickly inject joy back into your life.

It is our tradition to… is a means of saying this is our way of doing things. And in knowing your way, you are strengthened.

You are re-establishing who you are.

My traditions

We are people who go for a Friday pretzel every week in Starbucks. Who do Saturday movie night and an annual back-to-school family afternoon tea in The Westbury.

People who host birthday breakfasts for the family at our house. Who treat ourselves to Thursday night Bombay Pantry takeaway when too tired to cook. Who go on an annual trip to the Pavilion for a show and pizza afterwards with friends. Who go to our cousin’s house for dinner on the first Tuesday of every month.

Traditions, habits, fallbacks. Call them what you will.

Rituals really. A way of framing the new life.

Helping you find your path

One of the most frustrating things about grief is how it steals up on you some days and zaps your energy. You can see your life on the other side. Only yesterday you were perfectly happy. You want to get back to it, but you’re simply too tired.

Traditions can be a way back. The smallest habits can create a path back in.

Related: It’s okay to talk about the bad stuff 

We don’t necessarily do them every week. But they are there for us to fall back on when we need. A self-created net.

A routine can be helpful to keep a person going when one is swamped in grief. Traditions are the next level. The insistence on joy, regularly. The icing on the cake.

Creating traditions, and the repetition of them, is grounding.

Staying grounded

Through a time of stress, you may not realise it, but you are not grounded. You are up in your head having arguments, or flying from one to-do-list item to the next, or keeping busy trying not to think; whirling in anxiety, tensing in stress.

In the trenches of a crisis, it is not always within your power to ground yourself, to make things calm, using just your own mind. Sometimes you need to look outside of yourself. For people, or things, that can help you settle. Traditions can do that. Built-in breaks amongst the stress.

And life falling apart isn’t all bad. Rebuilding can be quite enjoyable.

New traditions

Establishing your new traditions is part of building your new life. Setting out your stall. Saying (to yourself really, more than anyone else), this is how we do things. This is who we are. We are a different unit than we were, but we are solid, and this is our way.

Related: I’ve cracked the code to weekends as a single parent

We eat roast chicken on Mondays; chicken and noodle soup on Tuesdays; and we have carrot cake for birthdays. You are making choices about how your life will be now, rather than chaos and stress being in charge. It is action rather than reaction.


I am nothing if not influenced by celebrities on Instagram. Anne Friel, also separated, does a yearly holiday with her daughter, just the two of them.

I plan it as a future tradition for us. For now, we have our days out together, where we head into town, just the two of us, and do the same thing each time; Milano, art gallery, Merrion square playground, lift home from Granddad. Afterwards, I always arrive home on a rush of happiness.

You make your own traditions, but then they reflect back to you how lovely your life is.


Also Read

Why Harry and Meghan were dead right to walk away

By Amanda Cassidy

Siobhan Kearney murder: ‘People have suggested I move on. But I can’t. You cannot be expected to forget a life force’

“He strangled my sister. He tried to disguise it as...

By Amanda Cassidy

Has society become more tolerant of the idea of dating interracially?
Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

With diversity on the rise, what struggles do interracial couples continue to face today? Filomena Kaguako speaks to three couples about their experiences.

By Filomena Kaguako

5 classic movies you must watch during the festive season

Jennifer McShane celebrates the classic films of her childhood that made...

By Jennifer McShane

sore eyes UTI period
Health Check: What are prostaglandins and how do they affect my period symptoms?

If you find yourself suffering with symptoms like cramping, sore...

By Erin Lindsay

Cosmetic injectables: ‘It takes a brave and honourable clinic to tell someone ‘you don’t need this”

 Less may be more when it comes to cosmetic enhancements,...

By Amanda Cassidy

Aoibheann MacNamara
Inside a house conversion brimming with Scandi-Galwegian chic

Artistic dynamo Aoibheann MacNamara has loved every moment she’s spent...

By IMAGE Interiors & Living

home in Ballsbridge house
This grand home in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 is priced at €2.95 million

Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre (and with...

By Grace McGettigan