Tuesday, 10 December 2019

How to Grieve After Divorce

Grief is a tricky thing. We understand the process during the death of a loved one but forget its role during divorce.

Not allowing yourself to grieve during divorce means not giving yourself the chance to heal. And not giving yourself the chance to heal means not giving yourself the chance to move on with your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Divorce is like death. It is okay to mourn your loss. It is completely normal to feel like your world has crashed into a million pieces and that you will never recover from divorce. When you think about it, you’re actually reeling from multiple deaths during divorce, which makes it really hard to move on if you do not grieve:

  • Death of your marriage.
  • Death of the life you thought you knew.
  • Death of your own identity as a partner and a member of a team.
That is a lot of loss to handle. Remember, you don’t have to just swallow your pain and act tough. Be okay with the fact that you went through something awful and traumatic that rocked the world and the life you though you knew. Unless you’re made of stone, you will feel like you have been hit by a freight train.

It is okay to be angry, in denial, scared, sometimes all within 10 minutes of each other. The trick comes in being kind enough in making peace with this loss, but motivated enough not to let it hold you prisoner, especially when there are so many beautiful things in this world, just waiting for you to discover them.

Turning that grief into insight
It is possible to process grief in a healthy manner. Remember to ask yourself powerful introspective questions that will help you move on. Some of these may include:
  • What emotions can I not get my head around that seem to be ruining my life right now?
  • How will I mindfully manage these emotions so they do not hold me prisoner?
  • I cannot change the past. Moving forward, what steps will I take to ensure that I will heal?
Learning from your own mistakes but not blaming yourself
The things we learn are only as valuable as our willingness and ability to put them into context, determine how we would handle the situation differently, and then make a proactive plan to handle things differently in the future. This approach takes much self-awareness but without it, it may be very hard to heal. Some questions to ask yourself on the road to healing may include:

  • What are some of the things that I blame myself for?
  • What are some of the regrets that you still harbor?
  • How can you change those feelings into something positive moving forward?
Getting support and holding yourself accountable
Regardless of whether the papers were signed years ago and you are still wondering how to make sense of it, or you are knee-deep in divorce drama right now, one of the strongest things you can do is reach out for support and remember that you do not have to grieve alone.

As a way of ensuring that you will reach out to someone, make the following pledges to yourself:

  • By the end of today, I will…
  • By the end of the week, I will…
  • By the end of the month, I will…
These accountability pledges can be as simple or as detailed as you want. The point is to set that intention to reach out for support and follow up on it.

Healing from divorce is a process. But if you remember to show yourself compassion, the journey to the next chapter of your life is possible.

Source: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/06/08/how-to-grieve-after-divorce/

Monday, 9 December 2019

How to Survive Christmas After Divorce

It’s that time of year again, with the holidays looming large before us and a particularly challenging time for those who are separated, divorced or experiencing difficulties in a relationship. Perhaps this is your first Christmas alone after a long-term relationship or maybe it’s your 10th Christmas on your own. Regardless of whether it’s a new experience or an old one, you are very possibly dreading the holidays. As a counselor and divorced person myself, I by no means intend to minimize the challenge of facing Christmas without a partner, because I know first hand that it can be very difficult, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Preparing for the Holidays

It seems that no matter how much we try to prepare ourselves, when the holidays begin, many people feel like hiding in a cave. What makes it even more difficult is seeing all the TV images that show blissful people and families spending happy moments together. Messages of love, peace and joy are thrown at us at every turn. So, to you, who are now facing the holiday on your own, it might feel as if you are the only person in the world fending for yourself. But, let me assure you, you are not alone. While TV ads make it all look fabulous, the holidays are actually a difficult time for countless numbers of people even for those who may be in relationship.

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

While it may seem that you are stuck with the bad feelings surrounding the so-called festivities, there are things you can do to make the holidays a little less stressful.
To beat the holiday blues, try adopting a few of the following ideas, as they may have a positive impact on the way you move forward with your life.

1. Begin by knowing that more than likely there will be some sadness if this is your first holiday alone.

Be okay with the sadness. Remember, what you resist, persists, so if you start to feel sad, keep in mind that sadness is just another emotion, If you allow yourself to feel the sadness without running away from it, it will pass through you more quickly. Once you let yourself feel your feelings, you’ll make room for other happier feelings that will take the place of the sadness.

2. Have the courage to reach out to family members and friends. It’s okay to let people know that you’d like to spend time with them since this is your first holiday alone. Or better yet, invite them to your house and host the celebration. If neither is possible, make yourself available to those who may also be alone for the holidays, or volunteer for a charity where you are making a contribution of yourself. Giving is one of the best ways of diminishing the lonely feelings.

3. If you’re a single parent, now is a good time to start a new tradition with your children and watch it lift your spirits.

A woman I know started a tradition of reading a special Christmas story each night to her children. The kids loved it and looked forward to a new story every evening. It was such a success, she compiled the best Christmas stories ever told and had it published. Perhaps you and your kids could do something similar or possibly you could gather together and make ornaments that signify the beginning of a new life. If the children are old enough, ask them for their ideas for making Christmas a little brighter. You’d be surprised at how creative children can be. Whatever you decide, use this opportunity to “try on” new ways of spending the festive days in a more satisfying way.

4. Pay attention to the choices that have led you to where you are right now and see all the changes you’ve already made in your life. Pat yourself on the back and acknowledge yourself for all the inroads you have made. It takes courage to make changes, and you’ve proven that you have that kind of courage. Each year will bring new experiences and every Christmas will get easier and more enjoyable.

5. Ask yourself whether there are any new choices you can make that will propel you in the direction of a more inspiring future. When you get your answer, don’t be afraid to take a few chances and run with them.

Starting a new life can be very exciting, especially when you relax and allow yourself to enjoy the changes. Take a few risks and watch how good you will feel.

Bear in mind that the holidays last for a short while, so put them in proper perspective.

Instead of throwing the holidays out of proportion, remember that before long, things will be back to normal.

Why not use the holidays as a way of setting the ground work for your new beginning. Make up your mind that you’re going to show up differently in your life and your relationships. As Debbie Ford says in her book, The Right Questions, “Every choice we make leads us in one of two directions. We are headed either towards a future that inspires us or toward a past that limits us.”

Which direction are you headed? Why not use this year’s holiday season to start moving in a new direction. Move into an inspiring new year filled with joy, fulfillment and happiness by giving yourself the gift of healing your heart.

Source: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/How_to_survive_Christmas_after_Divorce.html

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Parenting After Divorce - Christmas Tips for Happy Holidays

Cooperative parenting during the post-divorce Christmas season means putting your kids needs first. Let the season be magical and your kids carefree as you insulate them from any animosity your feel towards your ex or his family. The following tips can help make the holidays easier for everyone involved.

10 Ways to Make the Holidays a Little Easier and Happier for Your Child of Divorce

By: Brette Sember

The holidays can be a challenge for any parent, but when you're going through or recovering from divorce, it can be even harder. It's not only hard on you, but also on your child, who wants to please both parents, and also secretly wishes those parents would reunite for the holidays "like they used to be."

1. Plan Ahead

Make a detailed holiday plan with your ex as far in advance as possible. Plot everything out on a calendar, including transfer times and who will be providing transportation. This will reduce any last minute negotiation, bickering, or disagreements, so that transfer can go smoothly. Kids pick up on a lot of tension at transfers and will enjoy their holidays much more if things are as calm as possible. It will also make your life much easier to know what the schedule is to the minute.

2. Go Shopping

When you got divorced you thought your days of shopping for your ex were over, but your child would probably like to be able to give the other parent a gift. If you can facilitate this, by helping your child shop for an inexpensive gift, or by helping your child make a card or gift, you'll add to your child's holiday experience.

3. Pick up the Phone

If your child is with you for a holiday, have him call the other parent. This helps your child stay connected and is also, frankly, just the right thing to do. Even if your court order does not require phone contact on holidays, this can help your child feel more comfortable.

4. Go with a Gag Order

Agree with your ex that you will not discuss anything other than the business at hand when you're exchanging your child over the holidays. If there are things to be discussed about child support, alimony, future schedule changes, or issues you have with each other's behavior, table them for a time when your child is not around. A holiday celebration that is preceded by parents arguing is not very joyous.

5. Over-schedule Yourself

If you won't have your child with you for a holiday, it will likely be hard for you. It's ok to feel sad, but you can stay busy enough to distract yourself. Go to parties and events so you will have something to do. Don't give yourself time to let sadness overcome you. Focus on how you will celebrate the next time you are together with your child.

6. Schedule Meals

A kid who is overfed is often cranky. And the same goes for a hungry child. The holidays are a time of great celebration, but it's also a time of year when people eat the weirdest things at the craziest hours... Dinner at noon, sandwiches at 11 pm, Chinese food at midnight? Whatever your family's plans are, try to coordinate with your ex when your child will be eating next so that you don't send a stuffed child to the other grandma's Thanksgiving table or hand over a hungry kid at 6 pm who won't be fed again until 8 pm.

7. The Greatest Gift of All

With young kids, the greatest gift of all is a nap. It's a gift you give yourself, your child, your ex, and all the family who will be around your child. It's very, very hard to stay on schedule at this time of year, but try your best to get a nap in at naptime for your child. It might mean going a little late to a family party or leaving a little early, but it will be well worth it. Keep naptime in mind when you are scheduling holiday transfer times and schedule well around it whenever possible. With older kids, downtime is important. Think how tired you are after going to your own family's events; then imagine you are your child who is going to yours and going to your ex's as well.

8. Lower Your Expectations

It is too easy to build up the importance of a holiday, so that anything short of a magical winter wonderland event will fall short. If you spend weeks fixating on how perfect you can make it, the big day will not measure up. It's fun to look forward to the holidays. But don't let it take over your life, or your child's.

9. More Is Not More

More gifts, more candy, more decorations, more celebrations will not heal your heart or your child's. A gift may distract your child for a while, but it can't change the situation. Resist the temptation to shower your child with gifts to try to make up for the divorce. If possible, talk with your ex about gift-giving so that it does not become a competition between the two of you.

10. Embrace Tradition

It's common for kids to want things to be exactly the same as they remember them, but in your family nothing can ever be exactly the same. Instead, you can take old traditions and fit them into your life in a new way. Keep things that are familiar and beloved, but build on them in new ways so that you can gradually create new traditions for your new family.

Source: https://www.womansdivorce.com/divorce-christmas.html

Friday, 6 December 2019

Divorce, The Holidays and Feelings of Guilt

There can be few emotions so corrosive and disruptive to our wellbeing and progress through life, as guilt.

When I divorced I remember that feelings of guilt seemed to arise from many different events, situations and sources; guilt for the failing of my relationship, for not giving myself the happiness I felt I deserved, for the hurt caused to my family and most of all, for not providing my kids with the secure, stable and loving family that I’d enjoyed all my life.

Guilt strikes us from out of nowhere, we may be able to rationalise and explain it away but it can linger nonetheless as we reflect on the past and second-guess our thoughts and actions.

The challenge with guilt is that regardless of the circumstances of our divorce and whether we treat it as our ‘fault’ or not, there is ample opportunity for us to feel bad for our part in the failing of things and guilty for the knock-on effects for ourselves and those we love. We may not regret the decision to divorce and nor should we; positive steps forwards and life-expanding changes can be pursued off the back of difficult decisions. It is regretful though that inevitably there are hardships and pain to be dealt with as the effects of divorce unfold. It is in confronting these difficulties that guilt can so often hinder our ability to move forwards as we become stuck in the past

These feelings are all the more prevalent during the holidays and can be especially hard to handle at Christmas.

Christmas is conventionally a time to gather with family and to observe traditions whether religious or based on your family’s ways of celebrating. Whether you have kids or not, it’s conventionally a time to take stock and feel grateful for the year that’s past, to relax and recharge from it, and to prepare ourselves for the fresh start that the new year brings. All of these can be constrained and compromised by the challenges presented by divorce and the guilt associated with it.

We cannot simply flush-away the feelings of guilt but I’d like to share a few ideas that I found worked for me in combatting them, lessening their effects and minimising the degree to which they hindered my life and my ability to enjoy Christmas with those I love.

First and most simply, you must stop living in the past. Things have happened, you are divorcing, there will be hardship and challenge as you move forwards and this is unavoidable. What you cannot change is what has happened in the past or choose an alternate reality for the present. Feelings of guilt are undoubtedly attached to the events of the past and by constantly replaying these in your mind, you are rooting yourself in them and refreshing your guilty feelings. Let things go and focus on the present and on moving forwards.

Second, never underestimate your own resilience and strength to get through this. You feel guilty now because your attachment to the past is smothering your belief in a brighter future. What I’ve learned in myself and in others who’ve worked through times of adversity such as divorce, is that we ALL have a tremendous resilience and strength within us. We may feel weak and fearful at times, our belief may falter and our confidence may slip. With the passing of time and the growing of resolve we ALL have what it takes to make it through. At times when you struggle to believe that, don’t despair, but don’t beat yourself up over it either. Just accept that’s how you feel now, today and allow things to be better tomorrow. You’ve got more than this requires of you.

Third, remember that the same applies to your kids and those you love. Everyone has the ability to cope and to move on, most notably your kids who will bounce back, roll with the punches and move forwards. They will take their lead from how you act and react during your divorce. Of course there will be pain and hardship to be dealt with, they may feel sadness and question why things have to change, but if they see you moving on and focusing on building a new and positive life it will inspire them to be part of that and reaffirm their confidence in you, their biggest and most powerful role model.

Finally, and in reference to Christmas, cherish positive memories of the past but embrace the chance to form new memories too. There will undoubtedly be the happy memories of Christmases past that you wish you could recapture, but your focus now should be on creating new traditions, doing things that you perhaps were not able to in the bounds of your past relationship. Undoubtedly there will be the multiple celebrations with both sides of their separated family but for your kids Christmas will take on new meanings. Embrace this opportunity, make it into a positive outcome, and treat it as a chance to shape the future you want, not just to recover from your past.

All decent people will feel guilt for the past at times. It is down to us how we react to it and how we manage it in determining the impact it has in our lives. I hope that these pointers remind you of the simple things you can do to limit this impact, especially during the holidays when you are as entitled to relax, recharge and celebrate as everyone else.

I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season!

Thursday, 5 December 2019

How divorced parents can help their children survive the holidays

I have yet to meet a parent who isn’t a little stressed when it comes to managing the demands of seasonal events and holiday schedules. Usually this time of year is filled with special school programs, holiday parties, gift exchanges, children’s plays or special celebrations such as Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas, New Years and Boxing Day. Unfortunately, when you are parenting children out of two homes, stress levels can easily reach an all-time high between you and your ex during the holiday season.

You may also discover this time of year stirs up lots of different feelings for your children. If this is their first Christmas following your separation or divorce, keep in mind the loss of the family may hit them very hard. While you can’t take away the pain your children feel, how you spend the first holiday after a separation or divorce can really impact children’s perception about family change.

Too often parents get caught up in issues like who is buying what or dividing up the holidays. One of the best things you can do for your kids is use this time to rebuild a sense of family. Kids need to know that life will go on and they’re going to be okay. While your child’s perceived loss of ‘family’ may hit them very hard during this time of year there are ways you can help your children manage the experience in a healthy way.

To keep things in perspective, stress in check and children’s needs at the top of your holiday list, here are some “sanity saving” tips.

Keep your emotions in check

This holiday season your children will be taking their cues from you. Keep in mind, holidays won’t be hard just for your children; they may also be hard for you. Make sure you are paying attention to your feelings and needs this holiday season. Take stock of where you might need a little extra support and create a plan for taking care of those needs.
Remember silence isn’t always golden

Be sure you talk with your children and let them know what the holiday will look like for your family this year. While it may seem like an obvious thing to do, have a discussion about what will be different and what will stay the same. It can also helpful to discuss with kids what’s most important to them this holiday season but also what will be hardest parts. Although it’s incredibly difficult to see your children struggle, avoiding the conversation often makes things harder for kids.

Focus on creating meaning not madness

This year, focus on what matters most and avoid pushing yourself into holiday overdrive. Find ways to slow down, cut back on obligations and place quality time with your children at the top of your holiday to do list. While Aunt Edna may not be happy you missed her holiday party, it’s not the end of the world. Focus your energy on strengthening relationships with your children and helping them feel reassured that life will go on.

Let less stress be your guide

Lots of parents facing their first Christmas after a separation or divorce wonder if they should spend special holiday events together for their children. While it’s great when both parents can participate in special occasions, it’s only a good thing when parents can manage the event well and keep it tension free. Regardless of what you do this season, do your best to minimize potential conflicts and let your children’s needs guide your holiday planning.

Different doesn’t have to be devastating.

While routines are important some times adopting an “out with the old” philosophy isn’t a bad idea. Instead of putting you or your children in a situation where you’re just going through the motions, consider a different approach. Ask yourself, which holiday traditions are worth hanging on to and where there might be room for change. Remember you don’t have to re-shape the whole holiday. Rather think about doing one thing different that you and your children can enjoy together. (i.e. like going bowling Christmas day, spending the day in your pajamas, eating pancakes for dinner one night or volunteering time to help someone less fortunate)

While these tips offer a good head start on the holidays it is by no means exhaustive. What other sanity saving tips or suggestions do you have for getting through the holiday season?

Source: http://www.divorceandchildren.com/how-divorced-parents-can-help-their-children-survive-the-holidays/

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

3 Steps to Surviving Christmas for the Newly Separated or Divorced

Let’s face it. For folks newly separated or divorced, the holidays can really suck. Every year people separate and divorce and have to figure out how to negotiate Christmas from a different place. It can be immensely painful and sad, but it can also be a time of new experiences and traditions. How it goes is all up to you and will be the result of the three steps outlined in this article. Keeping reading.

My former husband and I separated in early November. That first year, I had the kids for Thanksgiving, and he had them the first part of their Christmas vacation. I thought I would be okay with that. Boy was I wrong. I was so totally not prepared for that day.

For me, I really thought I would be just fine. I remember thinking I would sleep in, get up and take a nice run, and just enjoy the morning. What I found, though, was that waking up on Christmas morning alone in my house that first year has gone down as one of the absolute worse days of my life. And even as I write about that day many years later, I can still feel the depth of emotions of that experience. I thought I could treat it as just another day, but that didn’t work for me at all. I was an emotional wreck the entire day, which was not what I had wanted for my kids or for myself.

As a family law attorney, I now use this personal experience to warn my clients about the need for deliberate planning around the holidays. Hopefully I can help them avoid the common pitfalls I experienced.

What I learned the hard way is to think a
head, plan ahead, and be very deliberate and intentional about the holidays. Even if you think you will be okay and that it’s no big deal, it is. Whether you have children or not, everything is different. Trust me. It will help you and your children if you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for this time of year.
What can you do? Here are the three steps for surviving Christmas:

  1. Make a plan. Definitely do this. I am big fan of journaling and writing things down, so get out some paper and write down your plan. Where will you be? Who will you be with? What will you do? What will you think about? What will you not let yourself think about? These last two questions are critically important. If you want to go down that melancholy road and feel sorry for yourself and cry all day, you can do that. And likely that is what will happen if you do not heed this advice and plan ahead. When you do plan ahead and follow your plan, you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
  2. Surround yourself with family and friends. If you get through the above journaling exercise and realize you don’t know where you’ll be or who you’ll be with, then get busy making some plans. Surround yourself with people, any people. Get busy cooking for others or going to the movies or doing anything that will require your attention with other people involved.
  3. Begin new traditions. Everything in your life is changing right now, including your holiday traditions. What can you do this year that is new and different and fun? What can you do that will keep your mind occupied and that you can enjoy with your children? My children and I now go to a movie every year on Christmas Day. That is our new tradition and we plan our day around it. What ideas do you have that will help you get through this day in a way that you can feel good about when it’s done?

Taking these three steps will help you get through the holidays with less angst and with a great feeling of accomplishment for being able to get a grip during a tough time. Do yourself and your children a favor. Get out your journal and start writing your plan now.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/m-marcy-jones/3-steps-to-surviving-chri_b_1149839.html

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

10 Christmas Survival Tips For The Newly Divorced

Missing your kids and feeling alone at Christmas? Try these 10 tips to lift your spirits.

I cannot think of Christmas without a vision of family. What if you are alone this Christmas? 
Not only do you not have your spouse but you don’t have your kids? The first thing I need to tell you is you are not alone; 50% of marriages split up and there are often kids in that mix. Either you or your ex has to be without their children on Christmas Eve or Christmas.

When you are newly divorced or separated this can feel like an overwhelming loss. Hauling out the ornaments and decorations may bring a flood of memories. It is common to ask yourself if the divorce or separation was necessary. Could you have worked through it? This ambiguity is heightened when you go to the mall and see couples hand in hand. You begin to wonder if you could have done something differently to make it work. Remembering the good times makes you more likely to feel depressed when you are newly divorced. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t make the situation go away.

There are things you can do to make this Christmas less heartbreaking and give you a deeper sense of gratitude. Children are barometers for parents, and if they see a parent unhappy it will make them feel sad. Don’t make your kids suffer your loneliness in your first Christmas without them. Make a plan now, and Christmas Eve will be a bit less painful.

1. Think out of the box. You don’t need to have the same traditions you had when you were married. If you are alone it is an opportunity to start over and do what really matters to you.

2. Make a plan to call your children at a particular time. Negotiate with your ex regarding what time would be good so as not to interfere with their holiday plans (the more you support your ex in being a good parent, the better chance your children have of growing up to be confident, well-adjusted people).

3. Invite family or friends over for Christmas Eve. The more you focus on serving others the deeper meaning Christmas will have for you.

4. If your kids are going to be gone for two or three days and you cannot bear being in the house alone, plan a short trip. Instead of buying gifts no one needs, splurge on a short trip you always wanted to take. People are very friendly this time of year, and most likely you will not have to struggle to make friends.

5. Allow yourself to do whatever you could not do when the kids were with you. Take a hot bath, or stay up and read until 3 a.m.

6. Watch a movie that makes you feel uplifted.

7. Do something creative. Maybe a room in the house needs to be painted. You are alone, and no one said that you cannot decorate or fix up the house on Christmas Eve. Make it your own holiday, and do what takes your mind off your loneliness.

8. Remember that divorce shatters both partners’ self esteem. This is not a good time to be looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Much wiser to call an old friend and ask them if they can listen for a while.

9. Write your story. The more people can write about their thoughts and feelings the quicker they can work through them and gain understanding. Who knows, you may be creating a best seller.

10. Light a candle, turn on soft music and pray. You are a spiritual being having a human experience and this part of being a human is painful.

Most people are afraid of being alone. For many the fear keeps them trapped in broken relationships an
d broken families. If your marriage didn’t work out, and you do find yourself alone at Christmas, celebrate the fact that you aren’t trapped in a marriage that was broken. Look to tomorrow, believe in the lessons you learned today. You're going to be okay.

Source: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/mary-jo-rapini/10-christmas-survival-tips-newly-divorced