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Grief is very real in any kind of divorce, even one by mutual consent. Here are very do-able tips on how to handle divorce grief, and heal.
Grief is a tricky thing. When we are conditioned to expect it, as is the case during the death of a loved one, we know that we must be patient, go through the stages, and the idea is that one day, our mourning will be done, and we’ll be able to move on.
So, why do we forget to do this during divorce? Do we think that we aren’t allowed to, because technically, nobody died?
Not allowing yourself to grieve during divorce is not giving yourself the chance to heal. And not giving yourself the chance to heal means not giving yourself the chance to move on with your life. Robbing ourselves of this grieving process is one of the reasons why, even years after the divorce, we still feel incomplete, still feel like crap, and still feel like our heart is broken.
As a quick heads-up to you, my friends, I just need to remind you that I am not a mental health professional. I can, however, talk to you about the strategies that helped me process my own divorce grief so I could move on without being bitter.
Obviously, there are differences between ending a marriage and when a loved one leaves this earth. But allow yourself to consider this:
It is completely normal to feel like your world has crashed into a million pieces and that you’ll never recover from divorce. When you think about it, you’re actually reeling from multiple deaths during divorce, which makes it really hard to move on if you don’t grieve:
-Death of your marriage.
-Death of the life you thought you knew.
-Death of the visions of your future.
-Death of the idea of the partner you thought would be for life.
-Death of your own identity as a partner and a member of a team.
That is a lot of loss to handle. So, why are you going around, thinking you’re fine if you’re still feeling like crap? Remember, you don’t have to just swallow your pain and act tough. Be okay with the fact that you went through something really awful and really traumatic that rocked the world and the life you thought you knew. Unless you’re made of stone or are The Terminator, you’re probably going to feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train.
But here’s the key: it’s okay to accept that you will be sad, angry, in denial, scared, sometimes all within ten minutes of each other. But the trick is in being kind enough in making peace with this loss, but motivated enough to not let it hold you prisoner, especially when there are so many beautiful things in this world, just waiting for you to discover them.
You didn’t think you’d get away without an exercise, did you? Below you’ll find the Gain Insight writing prompts, and as always, I’ve given you an example to start you thinking about how you can apply these strategies to your own situation.
As with most lessons in life, the things we learn are only as valuable as our willingness and our ability to put them into context, see how, looking back, we would handle the situation differently, and then make a proactive plan to handle things different in the future. This takes a lot of self-awareness to do, but without it, it’s very hard to not move on and heal.
A few things to start thinking about with how this plays into grieving the loss of your marriage that I want you to think about is this…
Regardless of where you are in the process — whether the papers were signed years ago and you’re still wondering how the hell to make sense of it, or you’re still knee-deep in divorce drama right now, or you’re reeling because he or she just moved out, remember that one of the strongest things you can do is reach out for support.
There are so many avenues out there, whether it’s finding a therapist or divorce coach, going to a grief support group or divorce support group, please understand that you do not have to grieve alone.
As a way of ensuring that you will reach out to someone if you need that sort of support, make this pledge to yourself. Look at your options for
These accountability pledges can be as simple or as detailed as you want—the point is to set that intention to reach out for support, and actually follow up on it. For example:
Like any grieving process, healing from your divorce will not happen quickly. But when you are kind to yourself, persistent, and mindful of the fact that you deserve to be happy again, the journey to the next chapter of your life is entirely possible.
Published here earlier.
Image source: divorce grief by Shutterstock.
Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, helps women navigate their
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