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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
It’s the time of year when you turn on the radio and within minutes you will probably be hearing one of the classic Christmas songs. It could be Mariah singing, ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ or Slade with good old Noddy screaming out ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ or Wizzard wishing ‘It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ and most of us will be singing along with them and remembering happy times we spent with family and friends at Christmas.
There is another Christmas song though which might provoke different sorts of feelings for some, Mud telling the world about being ‘Lonely This Christmas’. The Daily Mail Online has just published an article, link here, about a report undertaken by the Co-op and the British Red Cross stating that:
“Nine million Britons are lonely all of the time or most of the time, with divorce and family breakdown leading to an epidemic of loneliness…”
Whilst it is undeniable that the breakdown of a long term relationship is painful and there will be lonely times in the recovery process, I do feel the idea that loneliness amongst separating couples has reached epidemic levels is somewhat dramatic.
What happens is that at Christmas expectations are amplified, happiness and merriment appear to be obligatory and if you’re not exchanging embraces with someone under the mistletoe there must be something terribly wrong with you! So if asked the question, “Do you feel lonely?” at a different time of the year, you may not give the same answer as you would during the festive period.
So what can you do about it? With no wish to sound overly pious, maybe we could all become a bit better at counting our blessings and identifying the positives – and I am aware that is much easier said than done when you are feeling rejected and bereft.
If you can take the attitude that your health, your friendships, your family and your sense of self are the things to really appreciate, you may be less likely to attach such huge significance to whether or not you are in a successful couple relationship.
I guess I am implying that loneliness can be a mind-set and under the influence of the media you can persuade yourself that you must be lonely at Christmas because you’re not in a relationship. What about the idea of inviting a trusted friend or family member to help you reject the idea of being lonely and negative about life in general? Maybe together you could create a short list of all the things that are positive in your life and if they see you slipping in to a ‘poor me’ phase or if you feel that this might be happening, they can remind you of the list, give you an appreciative back rub (metaphorically or not!) share a cup or glass of something with you and then hopefully you will feel more positive again.
Loneliness is a terrible thing and unfortunately it impacts on far too many of us, particularly during this time of year, but there are ways of managing it and for those without a partner it is useful to remember that it’s one thing to be alone and another thing to feel lonely particularly if that loneliness occurs within a relationship.
If you would like more information about dealing with any of the issues I raise in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact me.