A “Divorce Care: Surviving the Holidays” seminar is scheduled for Sunday from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Saragossa Nazarene Church located on Saragossa Road.
The seminar will be led by pastor Greg Tinker and facilitator Lona Courington.
“The difficult emotions you experience when you’re first separated or divorced can return full force during the holiday season, even if your breakup happened months or years ago,” Courington said. “This seminar will offer practical, effective strategies to help you make it through the holidays.”
Courington said the program will be offered free as a gift from the Saragossa Nazarene Church. Child care will be provided for children younger than 5.
“You might have some tough emotional times this season, but you can still survive and even enjoy the holidays. The key is to be prepared,” Courington said. “Sights, sounds and smells can trigger unexpected emotions. Christmas cards arrive addressed to both you and your former spouse, holiday tunes bring back memories of laughter and good times, Christmas tree ornaments can hold special meanings that can bring a flood of tears, and knowing which emotions are normal can help you face them. That way you won’t be as surprised, and you’ll be better able to function, even while experiencing the tough emotions.”
Courington said two of the hardest hitting emotions are loneliness and sadness.
“You might also experience anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, bitterness, anger, and depression,” Courington said. “Those are typical emotions when a marriage has come apart, and you can face them and still move forward to find moments of joy during the heartache.”
Finding a good support system is a key, Courington said.
“Unfortunately, some friends or family members may offer the wrong advice in an attempt to help you or cheer you up. They might encourage you to ‘get over it’ and ‘have some fun,’ pushing you to stuff your emotions or to enter a social scene you aren’t ready for. They might offer their own negative opinion of your former mate and fan the flames of bitterness and anger,” Courington said. “You want friends who are going to build you up, who are going to listen to you and nurture you and take you to places that are good, safe places to find people who understand, such as a divorce recovery support group, what you are going through and who can be a mutual support.”
Courington said the first step to survive the holiday season is to recognize from the start that this Christmas will be different.
“Once you understand that, then it’s time to start creating a flexible but thorough plan. If you have children, involve them and other family members in helping you build your holiday plan. This can be fun for everyone,” Courington said. “Make a list of everything you typically do in preparation for the holidays, then decide which of those items are to much to handle this year. Your energy level will likely be lower as a result of the emotional toll of martial breakup, and your finances might be tighter, too. You might not have the energy to bake six dozen cookies or perhaps you can’t afford to buy gifts for the nieces and nephews. But you don’t need to hang all those holiday lights.”
Courington said create a new, simplified list of things you’d like to do in preparation for the holidays.
Then list parties and times you typically get together and decide which of those gatherings you will attend, which you will decline, and what to do about get-togethers that are no longer possible without your ex-spouse.
“If you spent Christmas at your in-laws’ house, make a plan as to what you’ll do instead this year. Think about the office Christmas party; maybe it isn’t a good scene if you are feeling vulnerable,” Courington said. “And if you have children who will be splitting the time between parents, make sure you are prepared for the times you will be without the kids. Focus on things that you like to do and plan to do those things.”
Courington asked that anyone wanting to attend the seminar please register in advance. To register or for more information, contact Courington at 205-522-9280.