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Holidays On your Own? What You Can Do to Cope with Loss and Loneliness

lonely cold gray winter sceneThis season, with its emphasis on seasonal magic, goodwill, and togetherness, has a way of reviving heartbreak and deepening the longing for a lasting or lost relationship.

As you navigate alone old traditions and gatherings, you may feel sad, angry, or depressed. You may feel unable to tap into the hope and happiness plotted in holiday movies or experience an out-of-sync sense with the world’s excitement and joy.

You may even feel somewhat forgotten as everyone in Houston seems to march through the malls without you or noticing how alone you feel.

What can you do to manage your feelings, survive the season, and come out the other side ready to move toward a new year prepared for better things? Let’s see:

Tis the season to observe, accept, and let go

Your first impulse may be to deny your new holiday reality, avoid the truth of change, or push away the full import of your loss and loneliness. This, of course just leads to more hurt, withdrawal, and even darker moods.

To recover from loss well, grieve well. It’s okay to allow space for your pain. Feel the weight of it. It’s okay to cry or yell. It’s fine to be sad, angry, lonely, or guilty. Take the time to honor your emotions. Feel them, journal, and share them honestly and fully. Then let them pass.

Recognize that self-care and compassion are your most important gifts this season.

If your loss is fresh, it may seem all you can do is survive the season, one event at a time. If you can, take some time off work for yourself. Slow down to write holiday cards to people who matter, accept one or two invitations to gather, do no more than you can handle. This meets your need for belonging without overwhelming you with reminders of your loss.

Also be sure to establish some sort of grounding routine, unrelated to the holidays, to remind you that all the festivity is just temporary. Keep eating well, exercising, and brushing your teeth. The routine will help you feel grounded and present. Do your best to rest and relax.

Refuse to let the holiday calendar dictate your emotional recovery

Just because the season seems to demand that we rush about spreading joy and happiness feeling grateful and fondly nostalgic, doesn’t mean you have to accommodate those sentiments. You just might not be ready to go there. Don’t squelch or rush your recovery from loss.

You needn’t feel like you must make your relatives or friends like your okay being alone. The important thing is to seek support while still being honest and honoring your feelings.

Don’t ignore grief and bury loneliness. This leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead, look at your emotions, identify them, and decide to deal with them. Simply being honest and accepting the help of those who want to be there for you may alleviate loneliness. Reaching out to a support group may help you process your loss with like-minded people can remind you that you’re not alone as well.

Respect your own right to adjust, redefine, and reject holiday customs that are painful triggers or no longer work in your current life.

Do you wonder if you might be depressed? Take this depression test and find out.

Focus less on holiday customs and more on complete healing.

If the holidays continue to be a stumbling block to your happiness, don’t participate. You have the right to focus on your own needs right now. Connect with a professional who can help you deal with your grief and alleviate feelings of invisibility or feeling left out of meaningful interactions.

It’s okay to put the holiday festivities on the back burner for the sake of healing.

Recovery from loss is a process. Loneliness needn’t last forever.

Simply resolve to take the first step. Reach out and share what you’re going through with a trusted loved one or therapist experienced with grief and depression. Be patient with yourself. Extend the season’s  goodwill and kindness to your own circumstance. In time, you can move through this healthy, whole, and eventually happy to embrace the holidays again.

If you are struggling with grief and depression this holiday season, don’t try to handle it alone. Call us today at 832-559-2622 for more information or click here to schedule an appointment online. We are here to lend support and aid you in your journey to healing.

Joan E. Mullinax, M.Ed., LPC
Joan E. Mullinax has a lifetime of experience supporting people in building lives they love and in overcoming life’s challenges. She relishes working with clients who are committed to the quality of their own lives both as a career counselor and therapist. She has a unique ability to see people’s strengths, even when they cannot. She is patient and encouraging with clients who are seeking to move beyond their current circumstances or limitations, and is able to gently point to possible opportunities for growth.

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