If you’ve gone through a divorce, you’ve faced the death of a dream. Whether contentious and complex or straightforward and uncontested, divorce is painful. No matter how “easy” your divorce is, there is a grief associated to letting go of your married life and finding your way into a new place of peace and contentment as a single person again. Let’s look at how to deal with your divorce grief.
The Grief Process
When you go through a major change in life such as a death, a divorce, or a career change, you face a level of stress that is abnormal for daily life. Because you are also likely to encounter other stressful events during separation and divorce, your stress level may increase exponentially.
Just a few of the factors you may deal with include:
- Moving or selling a home
- Loneliness or anxiety about being single
- Financial upset
- Arguments with family members
- Judgment from others who don’t respect your choices
- Child custody and visitation issues
In order to have the resiliency you need to move forward, you’ll go through a process of grief. Grief is a time when your feelings may seem overwhelming and include levels of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.
Eventually, the goal of your grief process is to move into an acceptance of what has happened. You reach a place where you recognize that the divorce happened, but the feelings associated with that event no longer rule your life.
Immediately after or during the separation period, it may feel as though acceptance will never come. However, this is normal. When your feelings seem to rule your life and your ability to move forward, life can feel impossible. But give yourself and your family the gift of time. Allow the feelings to just “be.” You can’t rush your grief process and part of accepting what has happened involves feeling all the feelings first.
Engaging in Netflix marathons is okay, but taking time to live in the moment and feel your feelings rather than escaping them can help you heal.
Getting married usually involves making vows. By going through a divorce, you may feel as though you’ve broken promises to yourself and others. Feelings of guilt or shame may run through your head all hours of the day and night. You may even struggle to sleep well or feel anxious or depressed.
It’s hard to accept that your relationship is over, but easy to blame yourself for the relationship’s failure. However, it is not healthy to ruminate about fault after a divorce. It is essential to recognize your part in the end of your union, but only so that you can understand what issues you may need to work through.
If you find yourself contemplating all the ways you messed up your life and your children’s lives, it’s time to let yourself off the hook. We are all (hopefully) growing and learning about love and relationships. In the process of learning how to love others, we make mistakes. Not one person in a relationship is ever faultless. And not one person in the world goes through life without making mistakes.
Holding yourself to the fire or beating yourself up is a form of self-abuse. Moving forward involves forgiving yourself for your part in the divorce. When you find yourself overthinking your role in the divorce, stop and choose another activity, such as:
- Meditate on what you are grateful for
- Go for a Walk
- Listen to Music
- Play with your children
- Spend time with friends and family
- Lose yourself in a favorite hobby
- Read inspiring messages
- Write in a journal
- See a counselor
To stay emotionally healthy, you don’t have the luxury of indulging guilt-inducing messages from others. Let those who would blame you know that you will not allow them to criticize you any longer. It is okay to let them know that you will no longer entertain their negative outlook about your life. Set boundaries about what you will allow and walk away from those who put you down.
To start healing and moving forward, spend time with friends or trusted counselors who will listen and encourage you as you move forward.
When you don’t work through how you feel about what has happened, you can become stuck in chronic denial, grief, anger, or depression. Some of the ways that individuals try to escape grief may include:
- Working all the time
- Sleeping all the time
- Alcohol or other substances to feel high
- Constantly binging shows
- Sexual escapades or a new relationship
Instead of escaping grief, feel the feels, push away negative messages, don’t overthink how you feel, and let others help you through by talking about how you feel. You can get through divorce grief, but give yourself healthy ways to process and time to heal. If you grieve in healthy ways, you will eventually look back on what has happened with a healthy perspective.
We Can Help
At Plekan Law, we work with you when you need us most, during a divorce or other family legal dispute. Our relationships with family form the core of our identity. Significant changes to our relationships, such as a divorce, affect you on a deep level. We understand the devastation caused by divorce and want to help you mitigate your financial losses and find the best outcome for you and your family. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to find out how we can help you find your way forward.