Navigating Your Grief During the Holidays After Divorce or Relationship Loss, While Still Supporting Your Kids: 5 Ways to Prioritize & Protect Your Family’s Mental Health

By Dawn Leprich-Graves, LCPC, PMH-C

The holiday season can be a complex time, particularly when you’re dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or significant relationship loss as a parent. Coping with your emotions and grief while ensuring your kids are supported in their grief can seem daunting. Here are five essential strategies to help you prioritize your mental health and navigate the holidays with grace and resilience.

During the holiday season, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care, especially when you are going through a divorce or significant relationship loss. Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish; it is necessary for your well-being and ability to support yourself and your children. Find moments of solitude to recharge and reflect. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, whether it’s reading a book, practicing mindfulness, going for a walk in nature, or even taking a long shower. Prioritize your physical health by eating regular meals and a variety of food groups, getting enough sleep, and incorporating joyful movement into your routine. By nurturing your own well-being, you will have the energy and emotional resilience to show up for your children during the holiday season.

Setting clear boundaries and open communication is essential during the holidays. Talk to your children about the changes they can expect and encourage them to express their emotions and concerns. Reassure them that their feelings are valid and that you are there to support them. It’s important to communicate with your ex-partner or co-parent about holiday plans and expectations, ensuring that both parties are on the same page. Establishing boundaries around visitation schedules and discussing how to handle holiday traditions can help reduce stress and confusion for everyone involved. Effective communication and mutual respect will contribute to a more peaceful and harmonious holiday season.

Post divorce or relationship loss, the holiday traditions you once shared may no longer be feasible or emotionally comfortable. Embrace the opportunity to create new traditions with your children. Involve them in brainstorming and planning activities that can become cherished memories. This could include baking together, watching holiday movies, volunteering as a family, or starting a new holiday decoration tradition. By creating new traditions, you build a sense of stability, inclusion, and excitement for the future. These new experiences will help both you and your children redefine what the holidays mean to you and create a positive foundation for the years to come.

Remember that you don’t have to navigate the challenges of this relationship loss alone. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide a listening ear, guidance, and validation. Connecting with others who have experienced similar situations can be particularly beneficial. Consider joining support groups or online communities where you can share your feelings, gain insights, and receive emotional support. Additionally, if your children are struggling with the changes, it may be helpful to explore counseling options for them. Seeking support and professional help when needed is a sign of strength and can significantly improve your well-being during the holiday season.

Amidst the challenges of divorce or relationship loss, it’s important to cultivate gratitude and mindfulness during the holiday season. Take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the blessings in your life, no matter how small they may seem. Engage in mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to stay grounded in the present moment and reduce stress. Encourage your children to practice gratitude as well, by expressing what they are thankful for each day. By focusing on gratitude and mindfulness, you can shift your perspective and find joy in the simple moments, fostering a sense of peace and contentment during the holidays.

This period might bring up various emotions, both for you and your children. By fostering an open and supportive environment, you can help each other navigate this phase and find moments of joy amidst the changes. Navigating the holidays will likely be challenging, but by prioritizing your mental health and adopting these strategies, you can create a meaningful and joyful holiday season for both you and your children. Embrace self-care, establish boundaries, create new traditions, practice gratitude and mindfulness, and seek support from loved ones and professionals. If you want to find out more about ways our team of therapists can help support you and your family, find a time here to receive a call from our client care coordinator team.

Author

Dawn Leprich-Graves, LCPC, PMH-C

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