Coping with Loneliness at Christmas

Written by Rusty Wright

Whether you need prayer, or just someone to talk to to, our mentors are here for you.

Whether you need prayer, or just someone to talk to to, our mentors are here for you.

‘Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season?  You’re not alone.  Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many lonely people are crying or dying on the inside.  Maybe you’re one of them.  I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of 20 years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare.  As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio.  Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing.

No fun.

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal.  One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.”  A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love.  Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed?  The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing.  Google will take you there.  But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues.1 Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress.  Overspending can produce financial pressure.  Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Dr. Michael Spevack notes, “Overeating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.”  Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says.2

The “empty chair”

Is your family apart this season by necessity or choice?  Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain.  Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death:  “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”3

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand.  The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits.  Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems.  Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.4

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness?  Some suggestions:

  • Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits.  Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.
  • Exercise regularly. Blood pumping can help clear your mind.
  • Eat right.  Chocaholics beware.  Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.
  • Lights on!  Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible.  Brighten up your home and workplace.  Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.
  • Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget.  Prevent January bill shock.
  • Talk about your feelings.  Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion.  Need a trusted, listening friend?  Try a local church.
  • Give to others.  Volunteer.  Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society.  He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients.5
  • Seek counsel.  I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel.  Now I recommend it.  We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.
  • Develop spiritual roots.  I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you?  God won’t.  He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you.  You can trust Him.  He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”6His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins.  What a demonstration of love!  I can trust a God like that.  Then Jesus rose from the dead so He could live inside us and become our friend.

Your choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have?  Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in Him?  You can tell Him something like this:

Jesus, I need you.  Thanks for dying and rising again for me.  Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life.  Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

End notes

1. “Christmas Holiday Depression,” 18 December 2005; www.medicalnewstoday.com.
2. Ibid.
3. Mary Cartledgehayes, “Blue Christmas – Grieving Through The Holidays,” Christian Century, December 27, 2003; www.findarticles.com.
4. “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” Mayo Clinic Staff, September 24, 2007; www.mayoclinic.com.
5. Stephen Post, PhD., and Jill Neimark, Why Good Things Happen to Good People (New York: Broadway Books, 2007).

119 Responses to “Coping with Loneliness at Christmas”

  • Sean says:

    It’s hard to know what truth is. I hear that there was no census and if there was, the ruling government would be more concerned with where people were at the time, NOT where they were born. Sort of like “off the cuff” comments that I’m supposedly not ugly. Truth can be long gone never to be heard from again. Such people I figure are just being polite because it is more acceptable than truth. I compromise this Christmas. I’ll be alone in a crowd. Volunteering at a community dinner but there will be nobody to call “friend” and nobody glad to see “me” so much as glad someone is serving their dinner. I’ll just be an anonymous face. To anyone alone on Christmas (term may be substituted if necessary) hugs and Kisses from me to you.

  • Aldo says:

    Sean, the Bible tells us what truth is. The gospel of John, 17th chapter, 17th verse says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” There you have it. God’s Word is truth. If you are interested in finding out the truth, read the Bible, it is the written truth. Allow me to go further and say that truth is not something, but someone. The same gospel of John says in chapter one, verse one, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It goes on to say in verse 14 of that same chapter, ” And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

    That Sean, is a description of the “only begotten” son of God, Jesus Christ. Those who seek Him, as the wise men did, will find the truth.

  • Linda says:

    I have a husband who has a Parkinsonian Syndrome, and is verbally abusive–terrible name -calling-he –he is older lot his job 5 years ago, made bad investments (or none), we lost our home of over 40 years and had to file bankruptcy–he never apologizes for anything he says or does–never owns anything–I am dependent upon his SS (& mine) to live–cannot afford to place him in a nursing home (oh, how I wish)–and he knows it and uses it as control. One son-good person, but see him only twice a year (out of sight out of mind, but we talk very frequently)–his wife is a good, intelligent person, but does not understand the situation- my husband (or should I say my burden) lies to get “attention” & sympathy, & she often falls for it–I seem to be the heavy–I feel so helpless. PS–I found us a place to rent (thanks to a dear friend ), and I take care of all finances (such as they are), yet I am constantly called: stupid, [expletive removed], idiot, ugly, fat–and,actually, I am none of those things! I feel like a rat on a treadmill–I cannot afford to move again–God has helped me cope so far–Christma is a terribly hard time for me—

  • Jorge Guerrero says:

    Quit your whining, get a grip! Millions of people are lonely AND dying, not the feeling of dying, I mean alone AND dying completely abandoned by the world; whether they deserve this or not I can’t really tell, but it’s a fact, so if you’re just solitaire, fina hobby and move on!

  • Toni says:

    Jorge, if you can’t be supportive and positive, then please don’t post. I pity you the most. You have no compassion and THAT is the most pathetic and empty life of all.
    I wish everyone here a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year.

  • Yareally says:

    This time of year reminds me that I have no family to celebrate with (I’m 36, never married, never a long term relationship, and of course no kids). In short, I’m lonely. It’s my own fault, my life is empty, and I’ve got to turn it around somehow soon. YaReally soon.

  • Nagavalli says:

    I wrote this song winter last year…
    https://soundcloud.com/nagavalli/reach-out

  • Dawn says:

    I was actually happy that my daughter wanted to spend Christmas with me, finally. I only found out yesterday, the day before Christmas, that she wanted me to take care of her while she went in for an outpatient operation, and when she was feeling better, she created these huge arguments over nothing. I’m still spinning trying to figure out what that was all about. Well she packed up her stuff today, after texting some friend to charm them into inviting her for Christmas, and she left ON CHRISTMAS MORNING! I am in tears…I feel used….I feel like I don’t matter at all.

  • Nancy says:

    I wish us lonely folks could get together for coffee.

  • Ugly Sean says:

    Dawn I wish you – and everyone else here health and happiness in whatever form possible. I talked to who is now my best (maybe only) friend earlier today. I downed a lot of alcohol to numb my emotional pain (don’t repeat this mistake) and finally am treating myself to some fried chicken at one of the few restaurants in town that bothered to open today. Fortunately it helps knowing the holiday hoopla is almost over for another 52 weeks. Kisses and hugs to you all!

  • Toni says:

    Nancy, me too!
    Dawn, I’m sorry that you went through this esp. on Christmas day. There’s no way to tell why people do these things if they don’t tell us, so it isn’t yours to own. It’s hers. It sounds like you did the right thing. Her ingratitude is hers. Your willingness to be there for her, to spend Christmas day with her, to be a support to her, is yours. Hang on to that, ok?
    Well, we’ve almost made it. I hope everyone has a Blessed New Year and maybe next year we’ll all be so busy we’ll forget to come to this site and comment.
    Remember to take care of YOU.

  • Jim Jeans says:

    Want a bunch of crap.

  • Aldo says:

    Yareally, church is a wonderful place to get the kind of support that you are looking for and need. But, you need to make sure that it is the right kind of church. To begin with, it must be a Bible believing, Bible preaching church, with ministries that minister to everyone. Talk to the Pastor, get to know the men, get involved with their out-reaches. You’ll be amazed how soon you’ll have a family.

  • Aldo says:

    Jim Jeans, I’m sorry that you are so negative. You remind me of how I used to be before I let Jesus Christ into my life.

    One real glimpse of Him, and you’ll be hard put being negative.

  • Aldo says:

    Linda, I suggest that you go to the top right of this page and click on the Talk to a mentor button. Someone will be happy to chat with you about your situation.

  • Elkay says:

    Toni, I totally agree with you about Jorge’s lack of compassion for another human being who is hurting. It speaks of a hardened heart that must be very difficult to live with. I don’t know this but something in his life must be behind such a condition and that’s unfortunate. We should pray for him, that somehow God will awaken in him the ability to sympathize with and care about other people for without love for others, we are just a crashing cymbal (1 Cor 13:1).

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