Lonely Holidays

For many people, holiday feelings come decked in holly-berry red, tinsel silver or Scotch pine green. For them, sleigh bells really do jingle.

Not all of us are lucky enough to be in that select group. There are also the lonely ones, the only ones to whom the sounds of Christmas are hollow.


Lonely folks aren’t holiday haters; they aren’t dyed-in-the-wool Scrooges who never allowed themselves to enjoy; they aren’t weirdos or loners who don’t want to participate in the joys of the season. And, paradoxically, they aren’t alone in their loneliness.


At heart, we are all existentially alone to some extent. So the lonely ones are people just like you and me. They don’t want to be left out any more than any of us do. Be kind and gentle with them (and you) if they cross your path this season. Be a kind and caring friend to yourself if you are one of them.


Here are some people who are likely to be lonely through the holidays–and what they and you can do about it:

THE BEREAVED: Memories of departed loved ones occur more intensely during holiday gatherings. Instead of isolating yourself, join in. Let yourself mourn your losses to move on, tell stories about your lost loved ones and let the healing tears fall.

LOW SELF-ESTEEMERS: Your asking questions like “Who wants to go out with someone like me on New Year’s Eve?” or “What does it matter what I buy her, since she probably won’t like it anyway?” Give yourself a real Christmas gift by joining a group or getting involved in the personal growth psychotherapy of change.

MISTRUSTERS: You are cautious about revealing what you really think or feel, for fear of being hurt. Create a space for joy in your life. Make your New Year’s resolution to close the relationship confidence gap, and let yourself be loved and love.

SHY RETIREES: Don’t stop yourself from reaching out to others because you fear rejection. During the holidays, make a point of doing something you fear to do; call up someone you want to know better, and invite them out for coffee or cheers. Turn off your critical self-camera, and enjoy the pleasures of being with friendly faces.

THE DISPLACED: Fast-paced modern ways can cause disruptive life changes that make us feel uprooted and isolated, especially during the holidays. Reach out. Volunteer to help out at local shelters for the homeless or in a hospital; or visit shut-ins and needy people. Join a group where you can meet people of similar interests.

COMPULSIVES: You have worked hard to fight a dependency on people, food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or self-criticism, and some of your feelings don’t fit your new life-style. Changing a worrisome habit can feel like losing a friend. Give yourself plenty of good feelings for your healthy new behavior that takes great courage.

COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF: You think you’re in control and you’re tough, that you don’t need anyone’s approval. But everyone needs nurturing. Instead of roughing up people with your off-the-cuff-harsh words, be kind and make a pact with yourself to try a little time, love and tenderness.

Loneliness is a close family relative to depression. As an honored member of our human family, you do experience loneliness and the need to be connected to people who see and hear and sing along to the song of your true self, too!


Dr. Dennis O’Grady lives and writes in the “cradle of inventiveness”…Dayton, Ohio, USA. His latest book is a mood booster called “Talk to Me: Communication Moves To Get Along With Anyone.” It is available at his Web site or at Amazon now. O’Grady is a licensed clinical psychologist who understands that the colors of Christmas are red, green–and blue.

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