The Rollercoaster Of Grief In Divorce
Dealing with divorce can be as traumatic as the death of a loved one. You are dealing with the end of a relationship, the splitting of a family, the division of your home and finances, a change to just about every aspect of your life as you know it. It is in our nature to grieve when we experience loss, and divorce can be one of the most difficult losses you will experience in your life.
As with a loved one’s death, there are several stages people go through when grieving. Though the terminology may vary, the idea behind each is the same. Denial is the natural response to the initial realization that divorce is imminent. You are in shock; you can’t believe this is happening. Confusion and fear may cause you to place blame, or you feel numb and find it difficult to take action or make decisions.
Then anger sneaks in to take action, like an explosion of emotion. You might ask yourself what you did to deserve such pain and anguish. Self-doubt and guilt makes you second-guess every past decision and you may be bombarded with a myriad of other feelings such as shame, embarrassment, frustration, even hatred. It is a time when you feel as if you have no control and anxiety may turn this anger inward.
This helplessness and hopelessness can manifest in depression, loneliness, and detachment. Sadness is sometimes debilitating. It is a time that sound decision making can be difficult, if not impossible. Even though withdrawal from others is natural, this is a time when friends or family members can be most helpful when you are facing important decisions.
The next stage has been described as bargaining or an inner journey when you begin a dialogue with yourself. The desire to heal yourself emerges. You want to find meaning in what has happened, to understand what your life is all about. At this time, you may find solace with others, start to express your thoughts, reveal your feelings and seek solutions.
It is then that you start to move on, beyond what you were when you were part of a couple and look forward to what you can be. Acceptance begins to mold your new life, your future feels more positive as you explore options with less fear and apprehension. Feeling stronger and hopeful, you move forward with an attempt to heal old wounds and put the past behind. You see that life does goes on; divorce is difficult, but not impossible to survive.
Coming to terms with divorce isn’t an easy process and you may swing back and forth between the many stages of grief. There are no set rules, there is no ticking clock. Your journey will be uniquely your own, your pace your own as well. It is also important to understand that loss for an adult may be different than for a child. Not only must you juggle your own life changes, but you will need to help your children during their own journeys. Just remember, there is an end to this difficult time. The key is respecting your own need to take any time necessary to navigate the hurdles of change.