The holidays are the most emotionally charged time of the year; if you like where you are in life, it's a magical time, but if you don't like your life circumstances, holiday time can be quite awful.
To those of you who are divorced or divorcing, this can be an especially challenging couple of months.
Here are some suggestions to get through this period a little bit better:
1) Create new rituals for yourself and your children -- trying to re-create what you did when you and your spouse were together can be painful and leave you feeling empty. Try something new or go somewhere different this year.
2) Don't accept invitations to events that will make you feel bad, lonely, or 'less than" -- for example, being the only single person at a party of all couples is a great set-up to feel excluded and perhaps even marginalized.
3) Make plans ahead of time but let people know you need to be spontaneous -- this means that if you are invited to a party, you want to be able to make your decision to go (or not go) as close to the event as possible (maybe even an hour before). If you go to an event, you need your friends to know that you might need to leave early. Ask them to bear with you during this transition.
4) Stay away from the commercialism as much as possible -- Billboards, ads in magazines, newspapers and all forms of media love to show ads of the happy families during the holidays. It's impossible to stay away from it completely, but do your best to avoid seeing and hearing the media's message about this "most wonderful time of the year."
5) Be gentle on yourself and remember that life will not always feel this raw, sad, scary, depressing or down -- you are going through a tremendous transition so your "negative" feelings may be heightened - even if the separation or divorce was your choice.