Judaism divides mourning into various time phases, which strikes me as a very natural way of addressing the process of grieving. The first, Aninut, is the period from the death to the funeral. This was, frankly, pretty much a blur, completely filled with making the funeral arrangements and notifying people. Then came Shivah, the 7 days starting from the funeral and there are a number of practices which I would have been stricter about if I were there alone but I didn’t want to put my brother and (especially) my uncle on the spot. For example, I wasn’t about to say that a 78-year-old man, even one as robust as he is, should sit on the floor. I will also note that my experience almost 30 years ago for my father was different, partly because he had been more engaged with the local Jewish community and partly because, being so much older, many of Mom’s friends were unable to travel even moderate distances. (And, again, she had outlived a number of her friends and relatives and many of the remaining ones are in Florida.)
Anyway, I am now approaching the end of Shloshim, which is a total of 30 days (counted from the burial, so it includes the Shivah). I’ve observed that period fairly strictly, most notably by not going to social events (including not going to the theatre, even though the show I had tickets for was a non-musical) and not wearing new clothes (though I have washed clothes). This also meant canceling a trip I’d planned.
The question involves the remainder of the 12 months of mourning for a parent. I will note that there was less of a question when my father died since, having newly moved to Los Angeles then, I had pretty much no social life established there. It was easier to be somewhat stricter given that I was settling into working life. (And, also, I was substantially more observant then, which is another subject for another time.) Anyway, I think it’s fairly straightforward for me to avoid wearing new clothes (except, possibly, if I finished knitting something for myself. There is a slight loophole which involves having someone else wear a garment for a few minutes.) Also, I do not consider pantyhose to be actual clothing. (I consider this related to allowing myself to go to a dance class for exercise though I wouldn’t go out dancing. I cannot really explain why these are the same thing in my mind. But, anyway, I did stock up on pantyhose when I was passing an outlet mall on my way back from donating books to The Book Thing.)
Avoiding parties is also fairly easy, but there are some issues that come up with a few events I would normally go to. For example, the National Storytelling Conference typically does have some musical entertainment as part of the events and that is definitely iffier. But I think I can easily just not attend those portions of the bigger event. The National Puzzlers’ League Convention feels harder to justify but easier to find technicalities to allow. I am inclined to forgo one or more of the larger frequent flyer events I would go to, which, unfortunately, probably means I won’t go to New Zealand next year.
The biggest dilemma is with various theatre tickets I have (mostly my Signature subscription), some of which are for shows (and, specifically, musicals) I was really looking forward to. Part of me thinks my mother would not have wanted me to avoid them on her behalf and part of me thinks this is just rationalization on my part. So that’s the part I still need to sort out, but I have some time to do so.