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How to Get Through the Holidays With a Broken Heart

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Why this season is so hard and tips to make it the best it can be even while grieving

If the holidays are exacerbating the pain of your broken heart- you are not alone.

Society shapes our model of how the world is “supposed to be” and we find ourselves experiencing a STARK contrast.

So, why are the holidays so hard for someone recovering from loss?

1-“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

When we are heartbroken we are not experiencing wonder- we are experiencing something much different. Loss is hard enough, but when you add an expectation that you SHOULD be experiencing something wonderful, it makes your experience seem even harder by comparison. Let’s not forget how the Grinch was treated. No matter how justified or natural your lack of cheer is- it can cause shame.

2- Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be hectic. We have places to go, gifts to buy, end of-year assignments to finish. Stress is rampant this time of the year and it is simply too much for an already overwhelmed nervous system. When we are stressed we want to turn to our primary attachment for co-regulation, but for those recently broken up or divorced…that support is no longer there.

Adding insult to injury- these are the shortest and coldest days of the year. The lack of sunlight and outdoor activity exacerbates feelings of depression.

3-Celebration/ Parties/ Social obligations

We are expected to show up to events and celebrate with others when that is the LAST thing we want to do. We do not feel like our normal selves, we do not feel in a celebratory mood and we worry others will notice. We do not want to explain our lack of cheer to coworkers, family, and others.

We must do significant emotional labor in order to get through these social events and that can be absolutely draining…especially if we have to attend solo when in years past you were part of a couple. We DREAD having others ask us questions about our lives and wonder if we will be able to hold it together when they do. This is compounded by adding alcohol (hello spiked eggnog!) to the mix. Alcohol makes it harder for us to emotionally regulate both during consumption and after (is there anything worse than a hangover while heartbroken?)

4-We feel the loss of love even more

When the holidays come around we celebrate LOVE. We celebrate the love of family, friends, and romantic love through gift-giving, sharing meals, and more. When the holidays roll around, it makes the LACK of love feel even more pronounced. Loved ones who we expect to be helpful may not know how to act or hold space. Our loss may trigger their grief, fear of loss, or unprocessed feelings. They may not know how to show up for us, so they avoid us which can make us feel even more alone.

This stress is worse for those with strained or difficult family relationships. When we are in an emotionally vulnerable place we are more easily triggered (especially by family which can trigger us on our best days).


Traditions create consistency in life. Hanging the Christmas lights, lighting the menorah, etc. These traditions create anticipation and a pattern we can rely on. When we are heartbroken we are dealing with a disruption in our daily patterns and now we also see the implications on a larger scale. Our traditions keep us feeling like we have stability- and now those traditions have changed- potentially for the first time in many years. This can make us feel ungrounded and like we “do not belong” which elicits a primal fear.

6-Memories of childhood and other past times

We are catapulted into an emotional memory bank whether we want to or not. The holidays bring back memories. We watch the same holiday movies we have watched since childhood, we eat the same foods we have eaten for many years and. Memories are especially hard for the heartbroken because they cause us to reflect not only on the most recent loss- but every other loss we have experienced in life.

This brings me to this:

We MUST take care of ourselves if we want to make it through this time of year.

Here are ways to make it through December:

1. Find support

Spend time with those who have experience helping others heal from loss. I have worked with dozens of clients healing from loss and having someone to guide you through this pain is essential to not get stuck. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a coach or counselor in your corner. A coach allows us to co-regulate, have our feelings validated and processed, and gives us the support we need to make the journey from broken-hearted to healing.

Finding a support group is also EXTREMELY beneficial. Starting January 16, 2023 I will be hosting a weekly support call for those recovering from heartbreak and betrayal. Groups are so very powerful because in our society we are missing COMMUNITY which is a primary human need. When we suffer the loss of connection (through a breakup, divorce, or death) we need others around us more than ever.

Family and friends can be excellent support (or not so excellent). Make sure the person you ask for support has some kind of experience with heartbreak, has the capacity to support you, and is safe to rely on. Always ask for consent first: “Do you have the capacity to hold space for me right now?”. Remember, people who love you WANT to support you. Do not suffer alone- this is a recipe for more pain.

2. Feel it to heal it

The pain of loss and heartbreak intensifies when we try to avoid it. Grief can hit us suddenly like a wave. Just like a wave- these feelings come on suddenly- and just as quickly they dissipate IF we honor them and do not try to push them down. The natural life cycle of emotion is about 90 seconds. When pain is buried, it is buried alive. Each time we fully honor and process a feeling with somatic techniques we lessen its intensity. I teach my clients these techniques. I can’t share all of them here- but some of the most effective are EFT and self-hypnosis both of which you can access via a quick search on YouTube. I also encourage journaling and embodiment practices like breathwork and yoga. So many of these resources are available for FREE- but you have to use them. So often we fall into the trap of sitting in our pain, numbing it, or making it worse!! You do not need to do that. Give yourself the GIFT of self-care. Show up for yourself during this time!

Here are some links:

Here are some journaling prompts:

In 2023 I am letting go of:

My learnings from this relationship include:

This time next year, I want to feel:

The qualities I have that make me a great partner are:

If a loved one was experiencing this- what would I say to them?:

3. Have hope and keep yourself in check

It can feel like this pain is never ending but I promise you it DOES END. This season is one of grief, but like every season- it is temporary. When your mind starts telling you lies- you must counterbalance them with affirmations and hope. Just like the snow covering the land- you cannot see your true nature right now. You know that under the snow lie seeds that will awaken in the spring and become beautiful flowers. The same is true for you. The shortest day of the year has been celebrated for thousands of years by every culture- why? Because the shortest day of the year marks the beginning of the journey towards NEW LIFE.

4. Have unapologetic Boundaries

If you broke your leg- you wouldn't say “yes” to playing in a soccer game, would you? Or course not. You would honor your injury and you would know that trying to play a game of soccer would hurt you, wouldn’t help anybody else, and would be utterly ridiculous and irresponsible. You would not feel guilt saying “no” either. A broken leg is easy for others to see, so they typically are very understanding. When it comes to a broken heart, however- you probably look normal on the outside…so others may assume you are okay. Only YOU can decide what is right for YOU. A broken heart is JUST AS VALID as a broken bone. Saying “No, I cannot attend.” is a complete sentence. You do not have to justify or explain unless you want to. You have to take care of yourself, and avoiding people places substances or activities that put your healing in jeopardy does not make you a good person. You are only as good as you are to YOURSELF.

Here are some helpful “boundary phrases” for you this holiday season:

“I can’t attend, I hope you have a wonderful time!”

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it this year. Please give my love to all!”

“I am not able to come this year. I will be sad to miss it but look forward to seeing you in the new year”

3. Plan for the year ahead

Grief (and the holiday season) tend to put our focus on the past. For someone with a broken heart this IS useful only as far as it allows us to reflect, process and heal. There comes a point however where rumination is harmful and you will know when you get there. A helpful way to stop this is to focus on where you want to be in the future. Write a journal entry from a year in the future. It can start like this:

“It is now December 22, 2023, and I am so grateful because”

Putting the focus on the future is SO healthy! Another amazing way to do this is to create a vision board. I know I will be making one!

With all of that said, this time of year is hard for us on our BEST days. Give yourself grace. By this time next year, you WILL be in a much better place.

If you are ready to leave heartbreak and grief in the past JOIN ME for a weekly mastermind where you will learn emotional regulation tools, get peer to peer support and heal with a group of likeminded souls.

Sending you so much love!!


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