When Holidays are Hard

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The holiday season is hard for single mamas. It’s hard on our kids. It creeps up on us and takes us by surprise, a sneaker wave of grief and disappointment washing over the shores of life and threatening to drag us out to sea.

Sometimes we can’t put our finger on why all of a sudden things change when the holidays come around. Emotions are running high. Tension builds. Life seems harder, but we’re not sure why.

The things listed below may not encompass everyone’s experience – I can only speak from mine. However, regardless of the reasons why, the holidays are hard. Every. Single. Time.

Here are some of the things single moms (and dads) may be experiencing during the holidays:

1.  Loss – Divorce is the death of a marriage, the death of a family. The holidays are a painful reminder of all that has been lost because of divorce: broken families, broken promises, broken dreams.

2.  Grief and profound sadness – It’s a season of grieving what was lost and never will be again, and grieving for our kids because the pain of a broken family is even more difficult during the holidays when families should be celebrating together.

3.  Exhaustion – Single mamas are exhausted all the time, but especially during the holidays. Juggling jobs, parenting, and holiday expectations is a struggle when trying to do Christmas alone. And, as we grieve the loss, in a sense we re-live the pain of divorce just when we thought we had put it behind us. It’s the reason forgiveness is a process, not just an event – because every time we re-live the wrong, we have to forgive another layer of hurt. This is emotionally exhausting.

4.  Loneliness – There is a difference in being alone to recharge and feeling all alone in this big wide world. If you experienced divorce as a child and your family of origin is dysfunctional, this is a double disappointment. The sense of aloneness is magnified during the holiday season when the focus is on families.

5.  Hopelessness – We may doubt the goodness of God as our minds become fertile ground for the enemy’s lies that things will never get better, that no one loves us, that we have been rejected and don’t deserve to be loved, or that no one will ever love us unconditionally.

How you can help:

1.  Acknowledge how hard it still is for me. Be patient with my emotions. Remind me that it’s normal to experience grief and sadness around the holidays, but they don’t have to define the season.

2.  Point me to Jesus. He is the greatest gift, the presence of Emmanuel, God with us. He is the only one who can heal the brokenness in our lives, the only one who will never leave us or forsake us, and who will always love us unconditionally.

3.  Give me hope. Tell me that things will get better, eventually. Remind me that God specializes in healing the brokenhearted and making beauty from ashes. Remind me that He sees me even through the darkness that sometimes obscures his light.

4.  Give me truth to combat the lies threatening to destroy me. Remind me that I am not alone, and that I am chosen, loved, forgiven, adopted, and accepted because of his lavish grace.

5.  Help me make new memories.

>I resisted opening the box of Christmas ornaments for three years. When I finally did, it was a painful recollection of memories. One friend told me point-blank to get rid of them and start a new collection, and sent me a new one to start it off.

>Our favorite winter vacation spot was stolen by memories too difficult to face. A dear friend generously gave us the use of their vacation cabin to create new memories in a new location.

6.  Build friendships and community throughout the year so that holiday invitations are a natural extension of existing relationships.

7.  Be kind to and love on my kids. They need to know people care and that they’re not alone.

8.  Meet practical needs. Single moms are in a variety of circumstances. They may struggle with finances. They may not have a network of family members in their town. They may just need a shoulder to cry on. Find out how you can help and do something about it.

Whose life can you make a difference in this holiday season?

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)

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