Surviving the holidays with a broken heart

Published on December 11, 2019

The holiday season can be particularly painful for those who are going through or have recently gone through a loss.  The holidays bring up memories, and we long for the other person.  This longing can feel like an emptiness when we can’t find the person that we are seeking. When we focus on loss, we miss or overlook the abundance in our lives.  The person you are grieving at one point taught you about yourself through their love and actions.

1. What meaning has this person brought to your life?

What is it that you admired about your lost loved one? What were their values you respected? What is it that they taught you about love, life, relationships and yourself.  These values and acts of love that were shown to you are gifts that you can always turn too when you feel alone, scared or sad.

2. You count, you matter, ask for what you need

Sometimes people feel lonely when they grieve because they don’t want to burden others or because they feel like others won’t understand. Your friends and family might be afraid to make grief worse, so they leave you alone.  They might have the false belief that asking you questions about your pain will make you sad.  Often people do not know what to say when people are grieving.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help; people want to help; they don’t know-how.

3. Forgiveness

Sometimes, when people grieve, they also have guilt. They regret hurtful things that they may have said or done towards the lost loved one.  If there is trauma involved, shame and guilt could be more profound.  Write out your regrets and permit yourself to forgive yourself.  Be patient and compassionate with yourself.  How would you speak to a grieving child?  That is how you need to talk to yourself.

4. Allow yourself to grieve, but don’t get lost in it

Allow yourself to grieve.  Allow yourself to cry, to shout, to feel what you need to feel. Then make sure that you live and get your life back on track.  Be patient with yourself.  You might feel tired and slow, so go slow, but keep going.

5. Start your own holiday tradition

If you are feeling alone this year, what tradition can you start that is just yours or for you and the lost loved one? Include your own identity into the new tradition.

6. Reconcile your identity

What part of your identity was lost? Who are you now? Who do you want to be?  Dark times can offer insight and an opportunity to be a better person.


If you would like to set up an appointment please contact me on +852 2521 4668 or email You can book a private or Skype session.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Category(s):Ending a relationship issues, Stress Management

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Registered Clinical Psychologist (HK)

Dr. Borschel specializes in Attachment, trauma and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

From Nov 2020 Dr. Borschel is only available for online consultations.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based therapy along with EMDR and Brainspotting enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help her clients to overcome anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem.

Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology (HKSCP). Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).

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