Divorce can be an emotionally draining experience. Even if the decision to end the marriage was mutual, it can result in a roller coaster of bittersweet emotions. With divorce comes independence, but also loneliness, particularly around the holidays. If you’re experiencing the holidays for the first time since your divorce, or while going through the divorce process, it may seem like too much to handle. However, the holidays are a great way to reconnect with family, friends, and reflect on a new stage in your life.
Don’t Spend the Holidays Alone
Even if the thought of getting dressed up and heading to traditional family dinner or a gathering with friends makes you feel anxious, strongly consider attending no matter how you feel. Maybe you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your new relationship status. Perhaps you’re afraid that you will be the topic of conversation. Chances are that if you express your desire not to talk about the divorce, your family and friends will understand. Support is essential during any difficult time in your life. You haven’t turned your back on others and it’s likely they won’t let you down.
Allow Yourself to Have Emotions
If you find yourself feeling depressed while decorating the tree or bursting into tears while listening to holiday music on the radio, allow yourself to feel sadness, but don’t forget to move forward. Tears are a natural part of the grieving process, but don’t forget to focus on the good changes in your life. Additionally, if you feel good or even somewhat “void of emotion”, don’t worry or feel guilty as these emotions are natural as well. However you feel, allow yourself to express emotion; it’s the healthiest way to work through a difficult life transition.
Start Your Own Tradition
Traditions are one of the best things about the holidays and your first holidays after divorce can make you long for the old traditions with your in-laws. This is the time to make your own new traditions. Was your ex afraid to try new things or celebrate in fun and unique ways? Take the time to celebrate in your own way, on your own time.
If you have children, it’s important to make the holidays special, just as you did when you and your spouse were married. Creating new traditions with your kids may help them adjust to the holidays after the divorce and it may also help you feel better.
Don’t Lose Sight of What Matters
The holidays can be a financial strain for everyone, but maybe even more so after a divorce. Rather than stressing about the material gifts and potentially putting yourself in debt, focus on what matters to you this holiday season. If you have children, don’t overspend on holiday gifts. You may feel obligated to be the fun or generous parent, but it may make your divorce even more complicated. Remember, your presence during the holidays is more important than anything else. Focusing on what matters in your life will help you get through your first holidays after your divorce.