When you have children special occasions are often centred around them. When those celebrations suddenly no longer involve them they can become painful experiences, espcially in the first year. To cope try the following:

* If you have contact or they usually live with you consider doubling up your celebrations. Have time with your friends but set a day aside for when you see them and can exchange presents, go for a special meal or do whatever you would normally do.

* On their birthday make arrangements to ring them or see them at some point during the day. Find out if they are having a party and whether you can attend.

* If you have lost contact with your children or are having difficulties in seeing them ensure that you place an ad in the local newspaper wishing them a Happy Birthday and letting them know that you are missing them. If cards and presents cannot get through at least they will know that you are thinking of them.

* Talk to somebody about your feelings such as a helpline and contact fathers or non-resident parent organisations that may be able to put you in touch with people in similar situations.


Christmas

People often say that Christmas is for children. If you are used to Christmas with your children the first one without them can be a painful experience, even if friends and family surround you.

If you have contact or they usually live with you consider putting Christmas day off. Most people celebrate on the 25th but there is no reason why you cannot delay Christmas until you see them and set a day aside for presents, Christmas dinner and all the things you would normally do.

Consider carefully whether you want to spend your Christmas with friends and family who have children, as it may bring back memories of your children and you may have to answer questions such as "where are my cousins"? Be prepared for questions and try not to drink too much as alcohol can exaggerate your feelings and is a depressant. An adult Christmas with friends may be your best option for the first year.

If you have lost contact with your children or are having difficulties in seeing them, ensure that you place an ad in the local newspaper wishing them a Happy Christmas and letting them know that you are missing them. If cards and presents cannot get through at least they will know that you are thinking of them. Talk to somebody about your feelings such as one of our helplines and contact fathers or non-resident parent organisations that may be able to put you in touch with people in similar situations. Alternatively join itsfinished.com for the support of others who know what you are going through and post in our forums.