The children are spending the holidays with in-laws and friends, lovers and partners.  Last year It was just the two of you, ignoring one another, ignoring the “we”, avoiding the “us”, staring into the decorated emptiness trying to think of something to say; now they too are gone. You put up the tree, decorate the mantel, spend hours cooking (just in case), then sit alone listening to television specials and holiday carols wondering where it all went wrong. Why so many marriages end when the children are grown and gone?

The pain of divorce is hard to overcome. Even the uncontested divorce causes emotional and at times physical pain. Remaining in a home you shared with an ex-spouse is difficult. Memories of good times and bad flood each room. You are facing one of life’s most challenging experiences and now you must deal with the holidays. You have lost your identity, your status and most of your mutual friends. Your mourning process has taken a turn for the worse and you’re asking yourself, “what now?” Psychologist say divorce is harder on men than on women, however statistics show most divorce proceedings are initiated by men. If the ex has a new family and those mutual friends went with the ex, you are hurt and angry. Why should you have to start all over? Why must you rebuild your life? Because you can!

There are hundreds of thousands of single unattached men and women of all ages who enjoy the holiday season. They share the holidays with friends, volunteer at children’s shelters, in soup kitchens and in nursing homes. They switch shifts so a co-worker can have the day off, catch a double feature at a local theater or take a trip somewhere new and exotic. Having a plan, something to look forward to eases the pain of those 24 hours. Take each holiday one day at a time.

Thanks to the media and big box stores, the holiday season begins in October. Halloween costumes hang on racks next to Thanksgiving place setting and Christmas ornaments. Use the weeks of realizing you’re going to be alone to plan how you’re going to spend each day. Feeling sorry for yourself is self-defeating and unhealthy – mentally and physically. Yes, you are homesick, missing a sense of security, recalling what was and thinking what could be. Avoid getting lost in self-talk and over thinking. Emotional trauma can lead to over-eating, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, behavioral disorders, anxiety and promiscuity.

Avoiding the familiar can be challenging, the holidays are everywhere. Turning off the television and eluding social media might not be an option. People who know you are going to be alone will approach you with excuses to invitations you never extended and explanations of why you won’t be joining them. Be prepared – make plans. Have a response ready days in advance and believe in the choices you are making. Think about what “you” want and things you have always wanted to do. Don’t be afraid to do things on your own. Accept your new identity and status – you are a divorcee, you are single. There are groups and organizations nationwide – join one, and have a mental check-up. Blame, fear, anguish and grief can lead to personality disorders and depression.  Regardless of why you divorced or who was involved, therapy can help you transition and adjust to your new life – especially during the holiday season.

“Just being aware of these subtle expectations can go a long way. Remember: the “magic” of the holidays is fun, but it’s also a bunch of hype that doesn’t have much to do with reality.” (

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