Holidays and Divorce: When the Holidays aren’t so Jolly

The holiday season is a painful reminder of loss and the absence of people no longer in your life. Recovery from divorce or other loss is more challenging during the holidays. As the season is upon us, be mindful of your feelings.

Here are some suggestions to help those transitioning during this challenging time:

1.) Start New Traditions

You no longer are obligated to participate in traditions that were important to your partner or your partner’s family. Let go. You have the opportunity to start new traditions, whether by yourself, with your dog, or alone with your children. It’s not what you lose, but rather what you gain. Find new traditions that are nurturing and life-affirming. Who wants to spend Christmas Eve with crazy old Uncle Harry anyway!

2.) Feel Your Feelings

The holidays bring up many emotions. Allow yourself to “be with” the difficulty. Sit with the feeling, process the emotion, and keep moving forward. Be kind to yourself. There is an old saying, “hug the dragon.” You will feel pain and loneliness; that is inevitable. But if you accept those strong emotions and acknowledge them, the suffering will ease. If you kiss those dragons instead of fighting them, you will feel better. Over time, the dragons will disappear on their own.

3.) Limit your contact

Well-meaning family members will approach you with questions, wanting to know all of the lurid details of the breakup. Maybe this year it’s best to avoid them if you aren’t ready to talk about it. Instead, lean on those with whom you feel safe. It’s ok not to want to talk about it right now.

Holidays can suck even when things are going well! All of the expense and disruptions in routine can wear on even the most mentally strong. But when you are vulnerable due to divorce or other emotional turbulence, you are tested daily. You must do whatever you can to remain resilient. Take care of yourself and your kids. Don’t feel obligated to socialize if it doesn’t feel right yet. Give yourself time to feel the loss. And remember, this too will pass!