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Coping with the Holidays after a Divorce

holidays after a divorce

Getting divorced is a major change, and one that has strong implications in many areas of your life. And when the holidays roll around, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year for someone who has recently gone through a divorce. There is a great sense of loss knowing that you will never be able to enjoy this season with your family the way you used to.

Going into the holiday season, you may be feeling a combination of sadness over what you’ve lost and anxiety about the uncertainty of what this season will look like going forward. You may also feel guilty for your part in “breaking up the family”, and for the fact that your kids do not have two parents together like many of their friends do.

It is important to know that these feelings are normal. The couple years after a divorce are always the toughest, but it does get better over time. Another thing to know is that, even if this is your first holiday in a while as a single person, you can still find a way to enjoy it. Much of this has to do with your mindset and how you approach the season.

The holidays do not have to be a time of year that you must “endure” or “cope with”. Here are some ways to get the most out of the holidays after a divorce:

  • Keep Realistic Expectations: Life immediately after divorce usually means a time of transition. In the midst of this transition, it only makes sense not to have super high expectations. Chances are, things will not be perfect this year and there will be at least a few hiccups you will have to deal with. So, with this in mind, do not put too much pressure on yourself.
  • Focus on What You Have: Whether it was planned this way or not, having a day dedicated to giving thanks is a great way to kick off the holiday season. After a divorce, you can probably find plenty of reasons to beat yourself up. But instead, take some time to focus on what you still have. If you really think about it, you can probably come up with a pretty long list of blessings. Good health, friends that love and support you, a roof over your head, food on the table, a source of income, and many others. We tend to take these things for granted, but these are true blessings that many people in the world do not have.
  • Put the Past Behind You: It is always tempting to look back on past memories of good times you had during the holidays. There is definitely a place for this but be careful not to dwell too much on the past. Living in the past will just remind you of the things you have lost. Instead, direct most of your focus and energies on the future and the wonderful new memories you are going to make. And this brings us to our next point…
  • Establish New Holiday Rituals and Traditions: You probably have some great memories of past holidays, but there may also be some things you have always wanted to do during the season that you are unable to before. For example, maybe you have always wanted to put lights up all over your house, but your spouse didn’t want to. Or maybe you have always wanted to volunteer at a homeless shelter and give something back during this time of year. Whatever things you wanted to do that you put aside for the sake of your spouse in the past, now is the time to act on them. This year, you have a fresh start and an opportunity to establish new rituals and traditions you will love.
  • Take Some Time for Yourself: Finally, it is a good idea to take some time to do something fun for yourself. Plan a day at the spa, take a trip out of town with some of your closest friends, or whatever else will make you happy.

After a divorce, there is no need to dread the holidays. This is all uncharted territory for you, so of course it’s going to take some time to adjust to your new normal and establish new activities and traditions to help recapture the joy of the season. Things will be different to be sure, but if you set your expectations properly, stay flexible, and approach the season with the right mindset, you may be surprised that how well everything turns out.