If you are experiencing a divorce, you may be experiencing a profound feeling of loss. Many people go through the grieving process as they are recovering from divorce. Being aware that you may be grieving and going through the steps to deal with your emotions will help you recover from your loss.
Tips for Dealing With Divorce Grief
The best course of action is to acknowledge that you will most likely enter a grieving process and that you will have very strong emotions related to the loss of your marriage. You will need to allow yourself to feel these emotions, working through them instead of avoiding them.
Letting go can help you release your anger, resentment, and vengeful feelings. These emotions have their place and purpose, and are part of the healing process. However, being stuck in anger for an extended length of time is unhealthy.
Letting go is a challenge many people face with many life situations. It's the process of acknowledging that what you had before was not working, and that life is full of opportunities. If you let go of the old and embrace something new, this will help you move forward.
Write a Goodbye and Hello Letter
Writing a goodbye and hello letter to yourself can help you let go of the old and welcome the new, as well as help you realize what you are grieving.
For your goodbye letter, you can write about the aspects of your marriage, both good and bad, that you will no longer be able to pursue. This might involve:
- Ideals you have about family
- Emotions you are experiencing now such as not believing in love anymore
- Dreams you associated with your ex-spouse
The hello letter can welcome all the good things you look forward to, such as having your time to yourself or pursuing a new career.
Create a Support Network
Loneliness and isolation are just part of the reasons why newly divorced couples should seek support. If you are a parent, instead of having that extra pair of hands helping with just about everything, you will be doing it alone. Many parents might be in the position where they will have to become the primary bread winner and raise their children.
Support can come from friends and family, but if you do not have this to rely on, you could also get support from a support group, neighbors, your kids' school, and even your kids' doctor.
Be Kind to Yourself
During a divorce, it might seem like your whole life is in a complete upheaval. You need to ensure that you are supporting your recovery process so you can deal with the grief created by your divorce. Ways to be kind to yourself include:
- Not putting yourself down
- Eating healthy foods
- Doing things you enjoy
- Writing in a journal to explore your feelings
Stages in Dealing With Divorce Grief
When it comes to divorce, many people are surprised by the feelings of loss associated with the divorce. A person may lose many things in a divorce, including financial status, possessions, relationships outside the marriage, and employment. People with divorce grief go through stages of grief, very similar to people who experience grief through a death. Moving through the stages of grief is a cathartic and healing experience.
A person experiencing divorce grief can feel dazed and deny their feelings. They might:
- Keep busy in order to avoid feeling the profound sense of loss and sadness
- Feel separated from their feelings, or like they are an observer in their life rather than a participant
- Be very disorganized
- Feel like you've lost their zest for life
- Avoid making decisions to carve out a new life
As a person begins to acknowledge their feelings they may:
- Feel sadness, anxiety, anger, bitterness, and vengefulness
- Feel lonely and that no one understands
- Look to place responsibility by blaming the spouse or themselves
- Experience guilt or feel embarrassed
A person begins to heal and starts to feel positive emotions again such as joy and happiness. As this happens they:
- Look forward to the future with excitement rather than dread
- Enjoy activities, hobbies, and being with loved ones
- Are excited at the prospect of building something new
As people move through these stages, they might want to deny the reality of their situation at first. As time goes on, they are ready to deal with their emotions. When they are ready to deal with their emotions, they can resolve them so they can heal, learn, and move forward.
Healing Takes Time
The amount of time one experiences the grief associated with the loss produced by divorce is approximately two years. The first six months are the most difficult because this is when the feelings are most intense. However, it's important to keep in mind that every person has a different timeline. It's not a bad thing if you need a longer time to grieve.
If you feel you need any help with the stages of divorce grieving, you can seek support from a support group or counseling services. A divorce might bring up other issues that you need to deal with as well. Sometimes, these issues can slow down or halt the grieving process and leave you feeling stuck.
Also, if you had any issues before the divorce, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, you might want to seek help so these existing problems do not overwhelm you.