Maybe you’re divorced and unattached, or perhaps you are newly separated? Maybe you’re still married, unhappy, and thinking about divorce. Or, maybe your spouse recently passed away. All of these are very painful situations, and all of these result in being or feeling alone at Christmas–a feeling that can be lonely, sad, scary, upsetting, painful, awkward and/or depressing.
Let’s start with those who are newly separated…
My story is, I got separated in August, so when it was Christmastime, it had been about 4 months. The plan was for my kids to go to my ex’s for four days (which included Christmas Eve and Christmas!) Let me tell you, I had so much anxiety about it, and spent hours, days actually, worrying about it. I was scared I would cry the whole time, that I couldn’t survive the loneliness.
But I did. I actually got through it so much better than I thought because I focused on the fact that next year wouldn’t be like this. I pictured that I would be officially divorced the next year at this time, that my kids would be doing so much better, that my ex and I might be in a better place, that I would hopefully have a new job by then, and that I would possibly even have a boyfriend. It gave me comfort because the future seemed hopeful.
It sort of felt like this Christmas was going to be rock bottom, and actually, looking back, it was. BUT, it wasn’t so bad. I binge watched shows, I cooked for myself, I cleaned out closets, I read books, I took long walks. It was actually quite nice.
When the kids came home, what I realized what that I had survived what I thought was going to be really horrible. I felt empowered, proud of myself, strong, courageous, independent, and I had missed my kids so much, I felt such gratitude for seeing them. They actually really missed me too and it showed (which was nice.)
My advice for being alone at Christmas is, please know that God is with you, and that your family, your kids, your friends and other people you know love and care deeply for you are with you, as well. Maybe not physically at the moment, but believe me, you are in their thoughts.
Next year at this time, life will look a lot different, and you might look back and think, ‘Wow, that was a really sad Christmas.’ What’s so beautiful about life after divorce is that with time, good decisions, and the courage and strength it takes to work on yourself, things always get better.
If you are already divorced, or you have been separated for a long time and this isn’t your first Christmas alone, (but it still hurts), and/or you still miss your former spouse…
Think back on last Christmas or the Christmas before that. Are you in a better place today? I hope so. If you aren’t, ask yourself why. Talk to yourself. Reason with yourself. Why would you want to be with a person who doesn’t want to be with you? You wouldn’t. Why would you want to be in a situation that was toxic or making you unhappy? You wouldn’t. Why are you punishing yourself by being stuck in a place of not being able to move on? Don’t you deserve to be happy again? Of course you do.
While it’s scary to make such a big life transition-divorce, (whether it was your choice or not) I almost always hear people say that it was for the best. Sometimes it takes several months, even years to get to that place. Things will continue to get better and better for you as time goes on, but you have to keep trying. Don’t give up hope. Be open minded. And try not to keep reflecting back and saying “If only I would have tried harder, If only I’d have been a better wife, If only I didn’t cheat, if only he wouldn’t have met her…” The past needs to stay in the past. The future can be wonderful if you are willing to embrace it.
If you are thinking about divorce on Christmas, you are still with your spouse but you are really unhappy and you feel like you are kind of faking it…
I feel for your pain. Try to spend the day focused on gratitude for all the wonderful things and the beautiful people in your life—kids, family, parents, friends, and of course health. Ask God for the strength to make the right decisions in the upcoming weeks or months. He is listening.
If you are single and lonely, over your divorce but just feeling alone…
Remember that being without a spouse today–being alone at Christmas doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone forever. Christmas might make being alone feel more lonely (it’s a nice holiday to have a spouse for). But, have hope that next year you’ll be with someone.
Maybe you want to make some changes in your life to increase the chances of meeting single people. Maybe you want to go to therapy. Maybe you are going to try to be more open minded, or let go of anger, bitterness and resentment from the past. Or, maybe it just isn’t your time for Mr. Right yet. Maybe you’ll meet him as soon as next week, or maybe in a few months. Try to appreciate and enjoy what and who you have today, and try not to put too much pressure on meeting someone or finding husband #2. Let it just happen naturally. Focus on platonic friendships, being social, pursuing what you love to do, being around people who make you happy, and putting good into the world. The goodness will come back to you.
If your spouse has died this past year…
I pray for you and your children for strength, hope and peace. I don’t know what it feels like to be a widow, but I know a few people who have lost a spouse. I can’t imagine the pain. God is with you.
In closing, being alone at Christmas is different for everyone. But, one thing is the same for all of us. Christmas is a day for gratitude, celebration of life, love, and even for those who don’t celebrate it, peace and tranquility.
Embrace the day, no matter how you are spending it. Feel gratitude for loved ones, friends and other wonderful things in your life. Pray for those who WISH divorce was their worst problem—maybe the homeless or the sick.
I don’t want to tell people you aren’t allowed to acknowledge being upset or sad or angry that you are divorced and alone on Christmas. I don’t want you to think you can’t be grieving your divorce or missing your spouse or missing the idea of having a spouse on Christmas. It’s very valid and understandable to have feelings of loss that intensify on Christmas Day.
Just take care of yourself today. Take care of others if need be. And lastly, find enjoyment, even from simple things—food, drinks, laughter, pets, children, babies, Christmas ornaments, material gifts, chocolate, songs, hugs, conversation, old photos, and meaningful words to loved ones. Because all of the simple things really matter in life.