The holidays, while often a time of joy, can also be difficult for many people. I frequently hear from clients that the holiday season can reignite the acute loss of a loved one. When we think of this kind of loss, we often think of a death, but it is important to remember that the end of a relationship is a death of sorts. Holidays are difficult for people who have recently experienced a break up. Mourning for what was lost and for what might have been cannot be ameliorated by festivities, and it may be exacerbated by all the relentless merriment.
Two of my best friends have recently experienced difficult break ups. I was struck when I realized that they both had told me, "I've learned a lot about myself" through the relationship and its end. I think that this is a wonderful perspective to take on an otherwise very painful situation. It is unfortunate that this growth springs from such pain, but it is certainly something that we have all experienced. It is wise to try to gain something from loss–and that gain can be insight into yourself. The end of a relationship is a great opportunity for personal growth and the perfect time to start therapy. A therapist can help you process difficult emotions and help you to gain more insight about what kind of relationship you want the next time around.
Frequently clients tell me that a break up prompted them to begin therapy because they say, "I've dumped on my friends enough." A therapist is an ideal person to provide additional social support. But it is important to remember that friends generally liked to feel needed, so you don't want to cut them out completely. If you are experiencing the holiday blues as a result of a romantic split, you may want to tell your friends how you are feeling. Letting others in on your pain gives them the opportunity to be that shoulder to cry on. It may also remind you of what you still have in your life apart from the loss.