Tips for Managing the Holidays during Separation or Divorce

The holiday season is here! For most people, this is the happiest Christmas Candles & Baublestime of the year. For those beginning or completing a separation or divorce, they may be dreading the holidays. Whether you are spending Christmas in a different house, with different people, with a new and different budget, you will be facing obstacles. Here are a few suggestions for coping:

Allow some time to grieve

In the flurry of holiday activity, it’s possible to push our feelings away or stuff them down with food, alcohol or just busyness. Take some time away from activity to talk about your experience, memories, disappointment and/ or pain. Go to a therapist to process the experience if you can. If it’s difficult to talk about it with loved ones, write in a journal. Don’t be afraid to shed some tears or have a little rant and ‘get it off your chest.’ If you don’t go to the extremes of numbing or wallowing, the rest of the day will be brighter.

Devote extra attention to self-care

Now is a good time to exercise more, have your hair and nails done or get a massage. If you’ve started to do holiday shopping, get something special for yourself too.


Surround yourself with friends and family who can crack you up and find the humor in tough times. Choose comedies before dramas at the movies or tv. Tears and laughter are both healing.


Enjoy a trip to a good bookstore or go online and find books to read that will uplift you and help you make sense of personal loss. Look in Self-Help, Psychology and Spirituality sections.

If you send holiday cards

If you are in the habit of sending holiday cards, you might want to continue to send them to members of your ex’s family and mutual friends. They may be sad about the breakup and even missing you. You’re not divorcing them.

If kids are involved

For the kids’ sake, if at all possible, reframe the situation from tragic to magic. They are not losing their family, but gaining more houses and family to visit over the holidays and hopefully, more affection and festivity. Think and talk in terms of more fun, more food, more travel, more holiday gifts to give and receive as consolation for the adjustment they are going through. Put their feelings first and support their sense of security and continued (‘extended’) family cohesion. You’ll feel better if you do. Don’t burden your children with your anger or grief at the situation. Show them that you can be strong and take care of them through life’s ups and downs and you will.

Take the long view

Remember that the first year of a break up is the hardest and that as spring follows winter, better days are coming bringing healing and hope. This too shall pass and make a better future possible.

Be Open to the New & Now

Embrace this new phase and create new connections. Form new family. Get out & rub elbows. Volunteer, join a gym, do yoga, or take a dance class. Share your spirituality and dreams with others.


Sometimes just movement alone helps the mind and body process grief and loss. Walking, dancing and even a drive in the car will help.


Monitor your stress. Take a good, long hot bath or shower. Take your time and let your feelings flow. Stretch, meditate and take a nap.

©2018 Alpha Resource Center


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