Divorce and separation grief is very real!
It is a sad fact that divorce is the second highest stressor in our life. Number one is death. And like death we grieve divorce. We grieve for the person who has always (mostly) been by our side. We grieve for the planned future that will never be and we grieve for the loss of the ideal ‘family unit’.
Just as the grief we go through with death has many stages, so too does divorce.
This is usually the first stage of grief and it happens at the initial separation. Denial helps to minimize the overwhelming pain of hurt and loss. It can be difficult to comprehend your future without your spouse by your side and even harder when there is a third party involved. Denial is a common defence mechanism that helps to numb the intensity of the situation you find yourself in.
It is common to feel anger at the breakdown of the marriage. Anger is a mask for many of the emotions and pain that you are experiencing. It’s more ‘acceptable’ to be angry at the person who you consider ‘responsible’ for the breakup, than to admit that the anger is a front for fear. This is the emotion that can cause the most damage when going through a divorce, the consequences of not being in control of our anger can be the demise of an amicable divorce.
After separation it is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed by the ‘lack of control’,so it’s not uncommon to look for ways to try to regain some of that control. During this stage of grief you may find yourself thinking about the ‘what if……..’ Or ‘If only I……..’. You may start to think about ways you can reconcile with your spouse by making promises, ‘I promise I will …….’. What you don’t realise at the time is that it may not actually be about something you did or didn’t do, it’s not about you, it’s about them and their decisions.
Depression won’t happen for everyone but when it does, reality slowly starts to sink in and you start to feel an emptiness from the loss of the marriage and your partner, you’ll find yourselves retreating, avoiding any social contact with your friends, especially the mutual friends you shared from your former life. This is a natural stage of grief and can be extremely isolating, so if you feel as though you are stuck here, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. No one will judge you for needing support. A mental health practitioner or a divorce coach can help you through the fog and show you that there can be a brighter life after divorce.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you are ‘over’ your ex or that you no longer feel the pain and hurt from the separation, acceptance means that you are no longer resisting the reality of your situation, it means you’ve come to understand and accept that this has happened.
So, if you or someone you know are going through the stages of grief due to divorce and you think they need extra support, please share this with them, sometimes being able to identify what they are going through helps with the healing process.
Feel free to contact me for a chat and a free consultation, as a divorce coach I’ve helped many women to rediscover their identity and feel empowered again.