How to Grieve After Divorce
Grief is a tricky thing. We understand the process during the death of a loved one but forget its role during divorce.
Not allowing yourself to grieve during divorce means 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. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Divorce is like death. It is okay to mourn your loss. It is completely normal to feel like your world has crashed into a million pieces and that you will 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 do not grieve:
- Death of your marriage.
- Death of the life you thought you knew.
- Death of your own identity as a partner and a member of a team.
That is a lot of loss to handle. Remember, you don’t have to just swallow your pain and act tough. Be okay with the fact that you went through something awful and traumatic that rocked the world and the life you though you knew. Unless you’re made of stone, you will feel like you have been hit by a freight train.
It is okay to be angry, in denial, scared, sometimes all within 10 minutes of each other. The trick comes in being kind enough in making peace with this loss, but motivated enough not to let it hold you prisoner, especially when there are so many beautiful things in this world, just waiting for you to discover them.
Turning that grief into insight
It is possible to process grief in a healthy manner. Remember to ask yourself powerful introspective questions that will help you move on. Some of these may include:
- What emotions can I not get my head around that seem to be ruining my life right now?
- How will I mindfully manage these emotions so they do not hold me prisoner?
- I cannot change the past. Moving forward, what steps will I take to ensure that I will heal?
Learning from your own mistakes but not blaming yourself
The things we learn are only as valuable as our willingness and ability to put them into context, determine how we would handle the situation differently, and then make a proactive plan to handle things differently in the future. This approach takes much self-awareness but without it, it may be very hard to heal. Some questions to ask yourself on the road to healing may include:
- What are some of the things that I blame myself for?
- What are some of the regrets that you still harbor?
- How can you change those feelings into something positive moving forward?
Getting support and holding yourself accountable
Regardless of whether the papers were signed years ago and you are still wondering how to make sense of it, or you are knee-deep in divorce drama right now, one of the strongest things you can do is reach out for support and remember that you do not have to grieve alone.
As a way of ensuring that you will reach out to someone, make the following pledges to yourself:
- By the end of today, I will…
- By the end of the week, I will…
- By the end of the month, I will…
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 follow up on it.
Healing from divorce is a process. But if you remember to show yourself compassion, the journey to the next chapter of your life is possible.
Bodyfelt, M. (2018). How to Grieve After Divorce. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 8, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-grieve-after-divorce/