Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when we take a step back and reflect on everything we have to be thankful for. This can be difficult, however, when you are going through trying times. For example, if you are in the middle of a divorce, or recently finalized a divorce, your whole world may be turned upside down.
As a divorce mediator, I see first-hand the emotional struggle couples face during a divorce. Around the holidays, this can be especially heart-wrenching, because this time of year brings back memories of previous holidays you shared together. The realization that things will never be like they were before can be hard on everyone, especially the children. During such times, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is permission to express joy and gratitude.
Here are some ways to stay thankful during the holidays, even when you are at a low point in your life:
Keep your Perspective
Human beings are naturally resistant to change, because change is scary. When things change, your world becomes less certain, and you don’t know what’s coming next. During these times, it is important to remember that, though what you are going through is painful, it is only temporary. As the saying goes, “this too shall pass”, and with time, the wounds from your divorce will begin to heal.
Stay Around Supportive Family and Friends
Even though you are no longer with your ex-spouse, you may have other family members and/or friends that would be more than happy to spend time with you during the holidays. If you are fortunate enough to have your children with you, spend quality time with them. If your children are away, arrange time to Skype or Facebook chat with them, or just write them an old-fashioned letter expressing how much you love and appreciate them. Being around people you love (and who really love you) will lift your spirits and make you thankful the wonderful people that are in your life.
Start New Holiday Traditions
Sure, your previous Thanksgiving traditions are gone, and they are not coming back. This is a big loss, but it can also be turned into an opportunity. Let me ask you a question; are there things you have always wanted to do on Thanksgiving, but you never did them because your spouse didn’t want to? Some examples may include:
- Volunteering at a homeless shelter;
- Going skiing or enjoying another outdoor activity;
- Going to a movie;
- Finally being an early bird for the blowout Black Friday deals.
- This year, you have a clean slate, and the freedom to start some new holiday traditions – traditions you may have never been able to start when you were married.
Make a List
When you get right down to it, we as Americans have it better than just about anyone else in the world. Sometimes, however, we fail to take time to enjoy the little things that we often take for granted. One Thanksgiving tradition you might want to start is to make a list, a long list of all the things (large and small) you have to truly be grateful for. Here are some examples to help you get started…
- Good health
- A roof over your head
- Food on your table
- A warm place to sleep
- Clothes on your back
- Shoes on your feet
- Gainful employment
- Reliable transportation
- The determination to overcome adversity
…the list goes on and on. Remember, your worst nightmare would be a dream come true for most others in the world, and they would gladly trade places with you if given the opportunity. So on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, take some time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for, even when you are facing a divorce.