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Navigating the Holidays Alone

Updated: Feb 10, 2023


The holidays are often seen as a season of love, joy, and togetherness. However, this is not the case for individuals impacted by the justice system. Whether your loved one has been incarcerated for 10 years or 10 days, we know it doesn’t feel the same without them. You are probably still trying to navigate daily activities; how are the kids getting to school, are you going to have enough for the rent/mortgage next month, who is going to play Santa this holiday? And that is ok, there is no time limit on grief; but your mental health matters. Although you may be concerned about your loved one in prison during the holidays, they are just as concerned about you.


Here are a few tips for celebrating the holidays alone, while your loved one is incarcerated:

1. Reframe your expectations - Look at the holiday season from a different perspective this may help you remove some emotional pressure. Reassuring your expectations for how the season will go instead of the way you think it should go can help.


2. Give Thanks- Express gratitude, it can help you appreciate what you have. A gratitude journal is a great way to start.


3. Share your Time- Volunteer by helping those in need; donate your time, or gently used items such as clothes.


4. Let your creativity flow- Do something not holiday related, paint your own masterpiece. Let your creativity run wild and consider using your imagination to create new traditions for yourself.


5. Seek out connections- Call an old friend or attend a local event. Reach out to others to help you regain a sense of connection.


6. Set new goals- Sometimes a little focus is all we need during the holidays. Setting a goal, creating a plan, and organizing a schedule can help you think less about being alone.


7. Treat yourself – Purchase an item that you’ve had your eye on for a while or indulge in your favorite dessert. You don’t always have to give to others.


8. Feel your feelings- Not every moment will be merry and bright, and that is ok! Avoid anticipating how you may feel, just be ready to embrace feelings as they come.


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