Getting through the holidays after or during a separation or divorce

This “hallmark movie” time of year can be difficult for all of us but particularly if you are recently separated, divorced or in the throes of either, being inundated with television commercials and movies of happy couples getting engaged and families sharing meals, opening gifts and laughing can create pressure on us to have every holiday, particularly Christmas, be full of nothing but wonderful hallmark moments. That’s just not real life. While there is no way to completely avoid it, short of going completely off grid, there are ways that make it worse and ways you can make it better.

These are some things that can add to sadness during the holidays:

  • Spending time with couples and/or other families can make you feel like the odd man out;
  • Putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own. This includes not taking care of your own physical needs like eating properly, exercising and getting plenty of sleep;
  • Continuing the old traditions that were practiced when in an intact family unit;
  • Putting up a good front and pretending to be fine when you are not. It’s okay to ask for help;
  • Comparing yourself to others around you. You may think everyone else is so incredibly happy based on their outward appearance and compare your grief to them but know that not everyone or everything is as it may appear and they too could be just putting on a happy face to get through the holidays.

Coming out on the other side in a more positive and better place:

  • Focus on the future and not the past. While self-awareness of the role you played in any now debunked relationship can be enlightening, reliving over and over what you may see as your own failures in your relationship is not productive;
  • Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest;
  • Do whatever you want to do. Take this time to focus on what you like to do or dreamed of doing – and DO IT! Create new traditions.
  • Get the right kind of emotional support you need. That may mean creating a new community of friends. Be careful to not take on other people’s feelings or opinions about their situation or yours. No one lives your life but you and you know what is best.
  • Have patience. This period of time will pass. Do not compare your grief process to anyone else’s. Or the length of time you may need to get through it. Everyone deals with loss differently and there is no deadline for being over it.