The holidays center around warm and cozy family memories and activities. Christmas after a divorce can feel as dreary as the winter solstice: some daylight, but an early and long night. Christmas is about light and love. If you start sending yourself a little of this, it makes the holiday easier. Here are a few ways to help you realize it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Your friends and family love you. After a divorce, you discover friends who support you and help you. They will make sure you have a place to go for Christmas and New Year’s. They will feed you. They will remind you that although your spouse may be missing, you are not missing out on love, thoughtfulness, and companionship. You may lose friends in the divorce, but you retain the most valuable ones. You will also make new friends. Some family, like cousins and siblings, double as friends, too.
Family time can be tricky, but you definitely have family who can remind you of all the wonderful moments before your spouse. Family can give you the gift of memory. They remind you of who you were and who you are and can help guide you forward. They offer a comfort and familiarity perfect for this time of year.
Don’t fear your grief. It will happen. Something will trigger words or a memory and you will find yourself struggling against the pain of loss. This pain feels more pronounced because of the whole purpose of Christmas, but don’t be afraid of feeling any part of grief. The grief process is important, essential. Grieving does not have a period of time where it should end. There’s no schedule or expiration date. Do not allow yourself to feel pressure to “get over it”. Feel your feelings and do not be afraid to experience any part of it. Remember that grief brings forward moments to treasure or to let go of, but you will feel cleaner, more whole, as you allow the process to do its work. If you need support, do not hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or professionals.
Take time to discover what you love about the holidays. For many, Christmas is a time of year full of pressure and the commercialization of something intended to remind us that darkness doesn’t last forever and that love is a gift. Don’t saturate yourself in activities just to avoid grief, discover what brings you comfort and joy. Go look at Christmas lights, eat deliciously rich and unhealthy foods, have mulled wine with friends, cry until it hurts and then watch a fun or cheesy Christmas movie. If you have children, this is the time to create new traditions with them.
The holidays can bring painful feelings to the forefront, but they can also remind you of what you love and who you are outside of a romantic relationship. Give yourself a gift on Christmas. Make new traditions. Kiss someone new on New Year’s. Whatever you decide, find some spark of light and joy, and then build a bonfire.
It’s about to get better. We are here to help.