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Surviving That First Holiday Post-Divorce

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There is always a holiday right around the corner, from the very big ones””like Passover and Easter””to those we celebrate with less fanfare, like Memorial Day. Regardless of the holiday, for most of us, these days can bring anxiety and worry or rekindle feelings of loss. For the recently separated or divorced, the first holiday””large or small””can be difficult, as you close the door to past traditions and activities and initiated new ones.

Here are a few tips to help you get through your first holiday after divorce:

  1. See the first holiday as a new beginning. Divorce is the ending of a relationship, but it is also the beginning of a new phase in your life. Divorce is a major transition in anyone’s life. Take the opportunity to create a new start. Make new holiday traditions. Do something you have not done before.
  2. Do not hide from the holidays. For many people””especially if you are an introvert””when you feel pain, you want to find a safe space to crawl into and hide. Resist that urge during the holiday. Spend time with your friends and family. Go to your neighborhood egg hunt with the kids. Visit a friend’s house for dinner.
  3. Focus on the right things. Instead of focusing on your anger or sadness, remember the spirit of the season. If you celebrate Passover, think about overcoming obstacles and hardships. If you celebrate Easter, think about new life and beginnings.
  4. Spend extra time with your children. Your kids might be struggling with spending a holiday without both parents or dividing their time. Spend extra time with them to let them know they are loved and appreciated, even if both parents are not there. Try starting some of those new holiday traditions with them.
  5. Take care of yourself. We give this advice frequently, but it bears repeating. Divorce is hard. That first holiday after your divorce can be especially hard. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Get a massage, speak to your therapist or trusted friend, or make some time to meditate.
  6. Be polite. If your children are spending this first holiday season with your ex, you may be struggling with even more feelings of loss, anger, or sadness. But make your life (and your children’s) easier. Be polite to your ex. Your kids will already be struggling. Make it as easy for them as possible.
  7. Keep busy. We understand that you may want some alone time. But if you are spending the holiday without your children for the first time, try planning something to keep busy. Maybe you spend time with family and friends, or maybe you go serve soup at a shelter. Keeping busy helps you focus on the good parts of the holidays and think less about the challenges.

Holidays are a time for fun and joy, but for the newly divorced, they can be also be tough. Try some of these tips to make the holiday easier. And above all, take care of yourself emotionally and physically.