The end of support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014 is a serious matter. Once that date hits, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, causing the old, tired and hugely unsecure operating system to look like Swiss cheese in a punch press.

But, there's a side of it I don't think we've touched on yet, one that may be more serious and more long-lasting. No one has approached the psychological aspect, and it's truly this area that could cause scars that last for the next decade. I fully expect to see Dr. Oz cover this in an upcoming episode.

Think about it.

For some, Windows XP is the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they see just before bedding down for the night. Many mornings have been spent sharing together the day's first cup of coffee, and as the second cup of coffee is poured, the computer finally boots. 13 years of memories, blue screens, mismatched drivers, dust-clogged power supply fans, and Leisure Suit Larry.

13 years is a long time for any relationship. It's like losing a friend, and really, more than a friend. You might see friends every once in a while through a scheduled engagement, or catch up over phone, text or Facebook. But Windows XP, you've shared almost every day since October 25, 2001. And, like a friend, you've shared laughs, sad times, and probably a little porn (most of it unintentional due to browser pop-ups - of course!). The computer case may be discolored with age, but it only matches the number of gray hairs now outlining the border of your face, and we all know that only means you're wiser, more mature, and extra competent.

So, what's the solution here? How will you deal with having to distance yourself from your best friend?

After seeking expert advice on this very serious matter, I've come up with the following 8 tips to help overcome separation anxiety brought on by divorcing your Windows XP computer.

  • Practice separation. Leave your computer with a caregiver for brief periods and short distances at first. The caregiver could be an actual friend or co-worker, which could actually result in growing a much stronger friendship with a real person.
  • Schedule separations after happy times. Identify those times when you're most happy during the day and capitalize on it. It could be during your favorite TV show or when you hear your favorite song on the radio. Your mindset is important. You might just develop a new habit that will help wean you off your Windows XP dependency.
  • Develop a "goodbye" ritual. Rituals are reassuring and can be as simple as a special wave through the window or a goodbye kiss. If the computer does not wave back, or the After Dark Flying Toaster screen saver doesn't kick in, don't take it personally.
  • Keep familiar surroundings when possible and make new surroundings familiar. Have your chosen caregiver come to your house. Or, when you are away from home, apart from your computer, carry a familiar object with you that helps you think of happy things.
  • Leave without fanfare. Tell your computer you are leaving and that you will return, then go - don’t stall. The more you can make this parting ritual commonplace, the easier it gets over time.
  • Minimize scary television and also shows that are amicable to computers. You will be less likely to be fearful if the shows you watch are not frightening. Also, try to avoid shows that cause you to reminisce too much. This only serves to keep you living in the past. Good examples of shows not to watch: Short Circuit (1986), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and I, Robot (2004).
  • Join or create a support group. With almost 30% of the computing world still using Windows XP, getting a support group together should be easy. Look for the people walking down the street staring blankly ahead, carrying a non-feature cell phone. They might also look like they hate Microsoft or the world, in general.
  • Try not to give in. Reassure yourself you will be just fine. Setting limits will help the adjustment to separation. Remember, you are in control.

P.S. This is the fifth article in a continuing Windows XP humor series. Here's the others:

10 Signs You've Used Windows XP Too Long

Three Similarities Between the Zombie Apocalypse and the Death of Windows XP

Windows XP: Knowing is Half the Battle – Yo, Joe!

Top 10 Reasons to Keep Windows XP