(WKBN) – Norman Rockwell painted the ideal image of family over the holidays: multiple generations gathered at the table for dinner, all enjoying the comfort a family provides.
But that’s not the case for every family over the holidays. Some have to deal with estrangement and separation from their family members.
Dr. Sarah Momen is a psychiatrist for Trumbull Regional Medical Center. She said many factors lead to family estrangement.
“A lot of family dynamic problems, parent-child issues. Sometimes with the mentally ill, maybe substance abuse problems,” she said.
“There are always those people who just tend to be alone and don’t have a lot of people in their lives at this point, and I think they’re kind of forgotten about,” said Marcy Patton, executive director of the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.
Patton said estrangement can cause feelings beyond loneliness — anxiety, depression and sadness, to name a few.
Patton said these feelings make people feel like they aren’t meeting traditional expectations.
“You should be happy; you should be enjoying this time, and then you start to judge yourself because you’re not feeling that way,” she said.
So what can those experiencing loneliness do to help get through the holidays?
“You don’t want to sit on social media all day comparing everyone else’s holidays with their families with yours if you’re struggling with isolation,” said Dr. Momen.
“Make realistic expectations. Don’t put too much on your plate. Plan ahead and kind of decide what you can realistically do,” Patton said.
Patton said it is important to find things that you do enjoy.
“Sometimes we get caught up in all of the pressure and the preparation for things that we miss the enjoyment of the season,” she said.
You can also help people who are estranged.
Patton says it doesn’t hurt to call someone who may be experiencing loneliness this holiday season. It may uplift their spirits.