Tis the Season to Become Single: Coping with Holiday Breakups & Grief and Loss

Jessica Richards | Anxiety, Counseling, Depression

How to Survive a Break-Up During the Holidays: 

Grief and loss is painful even more so when it’s unexpected and unwanted. Break ups during the holidays are complicated by additional feelings of loss and abandonment. The holidays are a time meant for connecting with those we love and care for. So, then why is it that many couples break up during the holidays? 

Why Holiday Break-Up’s Occur in The First Place

A data journalist David McCandles found, after analyzing Facebook statues containing the phrases “break up” and “broken up” in 2010, that the amount of romantic splits start to increase just after Halloween and spike in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. 

Experts have shared a few of the common reasons or causes for holiday break ups. 

Now, with the statistics negatively in the favor of love and connection, holiday cheer not so bright after all, it’s common to know someone — or even be someone — considering ending things this holiday season. 

Understanding the Emotional Pain from an Attachment Perspective

Wether you are preparing to leave a partner or you are on the receiving end of a break up, the pain experienced is real and significant. Studies have found that the same areas in the brain that light up in imaging scans when we break a leg or an arm are activated when we split up with our partners or loose a loved one. Attachment systems are meant to keep us surviving and are not fans of us being alone in order to do so.

Our brains are wired to cause us significant physical pain and seek connection so, when we split with a partner or a loved one, we experience it as physical pain. 

Imagine walking around with a lost arm or leg and asking your self “why do I feel this much pain”. It’s easier to understand the significance when we can see that there is limb missing. 

Beyond the Break-Up, What to Expect from an Attachment Perspective

Now that we understand how significant the pain can be. It’s understandable why many tend to seek comfort and support by returning back to their ex-partner. If without them, we experience significant pain, it only makes sense to attempt to replace it.

Here are some things you may experience after a break up: 

  • An increase in positive thoughts, memories and feelings you both shared together. 
  • A decrease in memories related to negative experiences, emotions and feelings you experienced while together. 
  • Strong desires to return to the relationship and begin again. 

Surviving the Break-Up, Using Attachment to Heal and Mend the Pain

When we are experiencing a broken leg or arm, we tend to know exactly what we need. Support tends to be readily available, others may offer to help open doors, get our groceries, we may receive time off from work or a flexible work schedule while we heal. However, this isn’t always the case when we experience a break-up yet, it’s the very thing we need.

  • Build Your Support Network – family, friends, coworkers, siblings, neighbors etc. 
  • Seek Comfort – You’ll need comfort as the release of oxytocin can ease the physical pain. Cuddling more with your animals or pets, weighted blankets, sleep overs with friends and family members will help ease the pain. 
  • Meet Your Attachment Needs – Soothe and ease your alerted attachment system with comfort food, exercise, hot soothing showers, restful sleep etc. The more you’re attachment system receives comfort, the less pain you will experience. 
  • Journal – Remember, you’ll be flooded with positive memories shortly after the break up. You’ll need a plan. Write down both positive and negative memories as a reminder of what led to the end of the relationship. — This will help deactivate the re-bound affect and assist you on your healing journey. 

If you or someone you know are experiencing grief and loss from a recent or upcoming break up, this holiday season, we’re here to help. Call our office today to discuss more or to schedule an appointment 407-476-1432. You can also send us a message below and ask more questions. We’re happy to discuss further. No two break ups are the same but, all break-ups are painful and we’re here to support. 

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