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Suddenly Single over the Holidays: A Difficult Time to Make Good Cheer

By Marie Burns November 17, 2023 Lifestyle

As the holiday season approaches, I often think about those who are Suddenly Single – and have recently experienced life-altering events such as divorce, widowhood, or separation. Especially during the holidays, overwhelming feelings of loneliness and isolation can be tough to fight off. The cheerful festivities that are meant to foster togetherness can magnify the sense of being alone.

How can we help ourselves or others who find themselves suddenly single during the holidays? Here are some tips from women who have experienced it first-hand.

A Change of Scenery

Get out of the house. It’s normal to feel especially sad or frustrated after losing a spouse, particularly around the time of special occasions. You may have been bogged down with paperwork and phone calls trying to move forward with this new life. Or maybe you feel like you’re spinning your wheels since so many updates seem to take you into “hurry up and wait” mode.

One widow recently lamented that she feels stuck in a rut from it all. “I need to get back out there!” is what she decided. So maybe a change of scenery would help. Consider attending some events you used to go to or try something you have never done.

Focusing on others can also help. There are often many volunteer opportunities this time of year. Helping others can combat loneliness and provide a sense of fulfillment. Or start a new tradition. Instead of Turkey Day or Christmas Eve at your house, for example, perhaps another location becomes the new tradition or a rotating cycle begins.

A New Focus… on You

Put yourself first for a change. Your new life should focus on including self-care. I reminded a woman who lost her husband earlier this year to move herself to the front burner, instead of the back burner.

She recognized a long-ignored need to address her knee pain. I never knew she had knee pain since she kept it to herself, ignored it long enough to forget about it for a while, and likely wasn’t walking enough to notice it since she was busy caring for her husband. We are so good at loving others, but now is the time to shine the spotlight on yourself.

Finding Your Circle of Support

Reach out to support systems. Lean on friends and family. Share your feelings and seek their support. I’ve heard some women consider a support group or counseling as a sign of weakness. Others are not comfortable in a group setting or sharing with others they don’t know. Everyone is different, and that’s okay too. Support and connection can come in many forms. But going it all alone is rarely the most helpful.

I know women who have attended GriefShare or DivorceCare as one option for support. Some attended the series multiple times. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book more than once since you get something different out of it each time because you are in a different place each time.

One divorced woman I know volunteered to facilitate the class as another way to continue helping herself and others at the same time. There are virtual options, too. The Modern Widows Club, for example, has both virtual and in-person support options.

Conversely, one widow told me she attended GriefShare only to find herself reliving the difficult emotions she thought she had moved through already, so she stopped going. Everyone experiences loss differently, so not every form of support is the best fit for every person.

More Resources

Many challenges come with loss. In my line of work, I most often see the financial side. This is why I developed a “Suddenly Single Money Bundle” and/or free financial planning calendar ацhere. It can help to have tools to use that allow you to keep up with life’s changes and keep you moving through stressful times.

Remember, it’s okay to have a range of feelings during the holidays. With self-compassion and support, you can navigate this season with resilience. Wishing you much understanding, healing, and the strength to embrace the next chapter of your life this season and forever forward!


Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are your plans for the holiday season? Any words of advice to share with others in your shoes? How can we support women alone at this or any time of year? Let’s have a conversation!

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k walker

A couple of more suggestions to help

Be careful to keep any promises you make. Its easy to say oh we will invite you over xmas next year, or at the end of October then forget. If a person is lonely that stings.

Be aware peoples situation may be worse than they let on. They might be embarassed to let others know how bad things are.

Be aware that they might have less resources than previously less money or time or less energy.

Be aware that it is a lot harder to do things alone like going on holiday, going to social events, getting medical treatment, keeping a house running if there is just one of you.

Marie Burns

These are such helpful suggestions, thank you so much for sharing this caring awareness!

Stephanie Bryant

I tried to join Divorce care, but it was too religious for me, quoting from the Bible and mentioning Jesus, I am spiritual and I would’ve appreciated it being a non-religious support group, as it’s supposed to be open to everyone of all religions.

Marie Burns

That’s another example of how one person’s choice may not be the best fit for someone else during the grief journey.

k walker

How can you support the newly alone? Dont forget them or drop them. Cards, phone call, emails, texts, share something about your day, a piece of music, poem.
A quick prayer. Invitations to something they might enjoy. Offer practical help with things they need to do for the first time themselves that the partner used to do. Encourage them to listen to radio or music when alone in house. Encourage them to take up a hobby. Encourage them to take a short walk everyday and look after their health. Encourage them to consider owning a pet


Quite right. My daily walks since my wife died have been very useful

Last edited 6 months ago by Gerry
Marie Burns

I have heard several women share how their “couples” friends stopped inviting them along after a spouse had passed. It surprised them and also made their pain worse. Thank you for your support suggestions.

The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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