Spare a thought this Christmas and holiday season for family or friends who live alone.
Whether widowed, divorced, clergy, never married, homeless etc people who are single do not comfortably fit the Christmas mould of ‘family’ as promoted by the media.
Remember also people who are living in a family circumstance, but may be feeling psychologically alone, single, deserted or vulnerable.
Christmas is a time when the contented family unit of mother, father and child/children is proclaimed as the norm. This creates a sense of displacement for many people who live singularly or feel alone. Individuals may be reminded of their own experience of loss – loss of family, spouse, children, parents, intimacy, love, identity or the life they imagined for themselves. Regrets can take the place of Christmas celebration and people may feel out of place (or an add-on) at family gatherings as they watch each family unit within the extended family celebrate their own togetherness.
People who throughout the year embrace and celebrate their single status can suddenly feel uncomfortable and profoundly alone. They may crave, albeit momentarily, the connection and intimacy of family.
Some single people are experiencing their first Christmas alone and others will have expended time and energy creating a Christmas experience to avoid feeling out of place.
Maslow (1943) clearly identified ‘belongingness’ as a fundamental human need. It is this need that can often create a sense of loneliness at Christmas for single persons – whether at family gatherings, amidst the crowds at Christmas shopping forays, or anticipating and experiencing Christmas dinner in an aged care facility.
Any gentle and discreet expressions of inclusiveness, kindness and understanding can make all the difference to someone’s experience at Christmas.