Estranged at Christmas
Society expects that Christmas is a time for every family to be together, being happy, full of life and activity and sharing connections with loved ones. The reality can be starkly different, whether it’s a disconnect through argument or gradual distancing. Christmas can be a very difficult time for some, highlighting a lack of belonging and sense of contentment.
An estrangement is a relationship breakdown between adult family members. It can cause a lot of pain and some people wish their situation was different, whereas others may feel relieved.
Individuals may feel unloved, unwanted or mistreated. There may have been a clash of personalities, differences in moral beliefs or values or perhaps sibling favouritism. Families can be very complicated and this is at the forefront of many peoples’ thoughts at this time of year. You may even feel a sense shame about being separated from family at Christmas, feeling judged and contradicting societal norms.
There’s a strong societal expectation of what a family looks like. Social media plays a part too because it’s a highlight reel of people’s family lives. The reality doesn’t always look like this, but people don’t talk about that. Family estrangement is a silent epidemic.
Please know that you are not alone. There are many people in a similar position.
You may want to try some of the following approaches to manage the Christmas period.
• Plan to go out and do something productive rather than stay home alone.
• Go to church or religious meeting place to be in the presence of others.
• Volunteering is a way to connect with others, boost your self-esteem – perhaps visit residents at a nursing home, service a dinner at a shelter, visit a children’s hospital.
• Research shows that practicing kindness may reduce any tendency to avoid social situations.
• Join others in a similar situation.
• If you have the chance to work, do so – interacting with co-workers and/or customers will help you to feel less lonely.
• If being alone is unavoidable at Christmas, plan a day for yourself doing the things you enjoy.
If you are feeling really down about being alone on Christmas and can't pull yourself out of it, reach out for help. Call a friend, family member, or a helpline.
Comedian, Sarah Millican, hosts #joinin https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42477266