Single Bells

Sister Mauryeen O'Brien, grief specialist, shares some coping strategies for single parents as they face the holiday season. She provides simple ideas for keeping the holidays simple.

by Mauryeen O’Brien

If a recent death has left you a single parent, you have your own unique challenges this holiday season. Mauryeen O’Brien, a coordinator for ministry to the bereaved and divorced for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, says the single-parent family will benefit greatly from keeping the holidays simple. Here are her suggestions on how to do that.

  • You can’t do alone all that you and your partner once did, physically or financially. Understand that time with you is what your children want most especially this year.
  • Invite your children to do some of the things your partner once did, like helping to decorate the tree or bake the cookies. Things may not turn out as perfectly, but for many children it is healing to be able to accomplish what Mom or Dad used to do.
  • Consider observing fewer holiday traditions or starting new ones. Again, involve the kids in the decision-making. For instance, one family decided to have a live tree because “Dad would want us to,” but to forego their usual Christmas caroling because “We just can’t face those families without Dad along.”
  • Consider having a party at your place this year. This can lend stability to this new single life for you. It’s a little easier to stay in control of your social life if you are in familiar territory as host or hostess.
  • Take care of yourself. Your children will fare much better if you aren’t anxious about them, overly tired, frustrated with gift-giving, and busy remembering everyone but you. It serves your family well when you are healthy.

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