For those newly divorced, the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year.

The pain and loss can be almost unbearable. The family that you married into is no longer a part of your holidays. The children may be staying with your ex- spouse and finances can be greatly reduced. Suddenly you find that life as you once knew it is now shattered, like a fragile glass ornament, and the thought of trying to piece it back together seems terribly overwhelming.

Divorce is a very real and serious loss. It changes your entire life like the death of a loved one.  When there is the death of a spouse, it is common for a grieving process take place over time and you would not be expected to go out and find a new partner right away. The pain of divorce can affect even the person who wanted the divorce as well. However, with divorce, the world does not seem to allow the same natural grieving process to take place.  You may feel a lack of support from others. There may be pressure from family and well meaning friends to go out and meet somebody new before you have even signed the final divorce papers. Sometimes people who are broken by divorce seek comfort in another person because of the great pain they are experiencing. It seems that to be held in the arms of another would  make it all better. But the statistics show that taking the time to heal, and grieve, increases the chances attracting a lasting relationship, and not doing so lessens the odds. This is because our pain makes it difficult to see the flaws others, thus making us vulnerable to another unhealthy relationship.

Know that you are not alone. There are many people who are hurting during the holidays. At Pendleton Center United Methodist Church we have a variety of ministries that can offer hope and encouragement. Even if it is just a safe place to be alone with God while you mourn. We hope you find support and fellowship to help you through the loneliness of divorce, grief and loss by connecting with others going through similar circumstances. We welcome you just as you are. Psalm 147:3 says that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Here are some ideas on how to get through the holidays and move towards healing:

Find A Support Group: There is healing in connecting with others who are in similar circumstances as long as the group as long as it is a  healthy one. A healthy group allows sharing of experience, strength and hope while respecting others.

DivorceCare Surviving The Holidays: An evening seminar is planned from 6:30 to 8:30 Nov. 28 to offer hope as for the Christmas season to people who are separated and divorced. You’ll learn how to deal with the many emotions during the holidays, helpful tips and, ways to give your kids a good holiday experience, discover hope for your future. I will be leading that seminar and there will be children’s programming for kids ages 3-12 . Advance registration is required.  

GriefShare: Another ministry at PCUMC is GriefShare. The grief support team invites those who are struggling with the recent or past loss of a loved one to become a part of this group. This is a safe place where practical, emotional and spiritual issues can be explored in a faith based environment with a goal of finding strength through adversity. Attend A Worship Service: People of all faiths find it helpful to go back to their place of worship and find healing when they are grieving. If you don’t have a home church we invite you to one of our services.  Blue Christmas/Longest Night Worship With Those Who Mourn is planned for 7 p.m. on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice.  Such services are solemn and reflective, offer healing and hope for all who grieve any type of loss. The service is led  by Pastor Bill Edmister, and GriefShare leader, Leslie Wagner. We also have regular church services at 5 p.m Saturday and 9 and 11:15 a.m. on Sunday.

Help Others: One of the best remedies for the blues is to help someone else. During the holidays it seems every corner offers an opportunity to give. If funds are low this year, consider  giving of your time. At Pendleton Center church ,we have ministries where you can volunteer to feed holiday dinners to homeless and more. It may be just what you need to begin to feel gratitude again.

Read Inspirational Material: Reading about the faith and courage of how others survived difficult circumstance can help get your focus off your troubles. If others can, survive so can you. I am a pastoral counselor and I write a blog with our Sr. Pastor Tom Kraft, and that offers words of encouragement. Find out how volunteering in a pumpkin patch helped a woman overcome a debilitating effects of a divorce and other great stories like it. Visit http://pendletonchurch.org/blog.  

Talk With Somebody: Talking about your situation with someone who will listen and understand can help. Reach out to a trusted and supportive friend, counselor or clergy. We offer affordable pastoral counseling at our church based on a sliding scale.

Commemorate Light a candle, visit a grave in honor of your loved one: PCUMC has a Blue Christmas Tree during a season which brings both joy and sadness. The tree is available to add a blue ornament to with the name of the person to remember, They are prayed over at the first 24-Hour Prayer Vigil of the new year.

Lori Jagow is a pastoral counselor at Pendleton Center United Methodist Church 6864 Campbell Blvd. North Tonawanda. She can be reached at 625-8306 or via email at loriannjagow@gmail.com. She is a contributing author in the recently published New York Times best selling “Chicken Soup for The Soup For The Soul, The Wonder of Christmas.”

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