The holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy, celebrations, and traditions. However, for those going through a divorce, it can be a dreaded time, filled with emotional pain, stress, and loneliness. And unfortunately, there is virtually no way to avoid being exposed to the constant ads, TV shows, billboards, and messages that highlight this “most wonderful time of the year,” making it all the more difficult. While going through a divorce during the holidays may, and likely will, be difficult, there are absolutely things you can do to lessen the emotional pain.
Give Yourself Room to Grieve
Going through a divorce is often compared to grieving a death. In many ways, the two are very similar. A good first step to take is to give yourself permission to grieve. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or however you may feel. Don’t try to push these feelings away. You are entitled to be emotional!
Give yourself some time and space to work through these feelings. To help get through these feelings, you may want to start journaling, working with a therapist, or simply venting to a trusted confidant who can offer support. You will get through it, and you will be okay.
Focus on Doing What’s Good for You
While the holidays can be super busy and stressful, be sure to make time this holiday season to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health
The holiday season typically coincides with cold and flu season, and this year, COVID-19 cases are on the rise too. This, along with the stress of going through a divorce, can run you down and make you more susceptible to catching something. Be sure to take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, adequate exercise, and good nutrition (while of course enjoying some holiday treats)!
Mentally and emotionally, the holidays can be rough during a divorce, especially this year, when many are unable to be with friends and family. Make sure to take some time to do something for yourself, however you see fit. Maybe that means having a spa day at home, going for a long hike, or binge watching that popular Netflix show you’ve been dying to watch. Whatever self-care means to you, do it! If you feel good, you will be more likely to enjoy the holidays and bring more holiday cheer to others as well.
Surround Yourself with Support
It can be tempting to crawl under the blanket and spend your first holiday without your ex sad and alone. There’s no reason to do that, though, and you are only punishing yourself. That’s not to say you can’t spend some holiday time alone, but don’t spend it all that way, if possible.
It is so important during the holiday times to surround yourself with supportive friends and family, especially while going through a difficult divorce. This year, it may be difficult to surround yourself with people in person, but even if it’s over FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype, it will help!
Spending time with family and friends can be a great distraction and can often help pull you out of a funk. And if you need a little extra help to get your holidays feeling merrier, be sure to ask for it—don’t wait for someone to guess what you need.
Identify Your Triggers
When you are facing the holidays alone after divorce, it is crucial to try and identify what may trigger you, sending you into a sad, depressed, or hopeless state. And once you determine what that trigger is, try and avoid it! For example, if watching a specific holiday movie reminds you of your ex, don’t watch it! There are hundreds of other movies to choose from. If seeing cheery holiday TV advertisements brings up feelings of resentment, read a book instead (or, if you really want to watch TV, just mute it or turn it off during commercials).
Give yourself permission to avoid whatever it is you need to avoid, and don’t feel guilty for doing so. You need to do what’s best for you!
Make New Traditions for Yourself
With divorce comes so many changes. Some of these changes are uncomfortable, but some of these changes are good, and may perhaps even be fun. Be open to changing past traditions and/or adding some new ones. Any past traditions that were once wonderful, but now bring up negative emotions, can be done away with and replaced by new and exciting activities. Try and figure out what new tradition you can introduce this holiday season to keep things light, happy, and fun.
Also, consider buying yourself a holiday gift. Odds are, you won’t be exchanging gifts with your ex this year. Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to the list? If you do, you’ll be able to buy yourself something that you know you will truly enjoy this holiday season.
Look for the Lesson Hold on to Hope
I recently read an article that analogized divorce to a great movie. It explained how in a movie, there are elements of suspense, sadness, joy, pain, and anticipation before the happy ending. The author explained that this is similar to divorce. There will be good times and bad, and while things may look down when you’re in the midst of it, eventually things will get better. It’s so true!
Another way that divorces and movies are similar is that they both have a lesson you may not figure out until the end. While it may be difficult, try and find the lesson through your grief. Try and figure out what you can learn through this painful time, and how you can grow from it. Figure out how you can change your outlook and think beyond your current situation.
Find the positives in this difficult situation, and really just in life. Remember what you have to be grateful for and strive to make each day great in whatever way you can. Before you know it, this difficult time in your life will be over, and you will find your happy ending.
By Logan Matura
At the Law Firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., Gary Frank, Hanna Amar, and Logan Matura are strong litigators and compassionate counselors. Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over 30 years of experience as a litigator and mediator. He has also acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tempore in the Maricopa County Superior Court, and served on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Law firm Partner, Hanna Amar ,is a highly-skilled attorney with a passion for Family Law and children’s issues. She has extensive courtroom experience, and is also a certified mediator. Hanna has also acted as the President of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Associate Attorney Logan Matura received her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in Manhatten, NY. While in law school, she served as an intern for a Family Court judge in the Bronx, NY, and was a member of the Family Attorneys Mobilizing club. Our firm handles Family Law cases in the areas of divorce, custody (now called “Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time), relocation (move-away), division of property, spousal and child support, modification actions, enforcement actions, grandparent and step-parent and non-parent rights, as well as other matters pertaining to families and children. If you are in need of a consultation, call us today at 602-383-3610; or you can contact us by email through our website at www.garyfranklaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.