Whether someone has lost a loved one, has a house in foreclosure, or gone through a divorce, Christmas is an especially difficult time of year. Loss, death, separation, and divorce issues seem especially painful during the holiday season. At a time when people focus on their family and relatives, it accentuates the depth of many people’s pain.

This year many people have lost their jobs and have the added stress of worrying about how they are going to keep food on the table and pay their mortgage. Depression, sadness, Remembering the “happy” times compared to the present can create depression, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness.

So knowing that this is a very difficult time, what are some steps that can help?

  • Forget the expectation of what is “supposed” to happen and decide what you want to experience during the holiday season. Take charge of your life!
  • Exploring past memories may create a spiral into depression. Both happy and sad memories can do this! If focusing on these memories trigger depression, focus on experiencing the moment and give yourself permission to feel a wide range of emotions.
  • Create new traditions. Often expressions of holiday traditions involve painful connections to loss. Creating new ones can make the holidays tolerable. If a family member died, decide if it would be a positive move to include this person’s memory in some aspect of this new tradition.
  • Volunteer time to help others. Oftentimes the loss causes so much pain that there is no desire whatsoever to celebrate the holidays. However, helping others may keep the focus off self and add meaning to this time in a new way.
  • Reduce stress. This may mean examining your lifestyle and finding ways to reduce the demands on your life.
  • Talk to a friend Sharing thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend often decreases the sense of loneliness.

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Author: Evelyn Wenzel, MSW, LCSW, CAP