The signs of grief after divorce really aren’t too different than the signs of grief after death or any other major loss. Divorce remains one of the most stressful life events you can experience, and grief following a split is a common and normal reaction to your situation. Divorce, death and other forms of loss are all permanent departures from what is normal.
Signs of Grief After Divorce
Losing your marriage can be shocking and overwhelming, and the mind has outstanding coping mechanisms for easing into acceptance. Denial is one of them. it is also a psychological protection against emotional overwhelm. It softens the immediate shock and blocks out circumstances, so you don’t have to think about the pain that’s coming. Denial is a useful coping mechanism, as long as it doesn’t keep you from progressing onto the next stage.
2. Pain And Fear
No matter what brought you to this point, the process and finality are undeniably painful. You will feel pain and fear about the future. How am I going to afford to live? Will my kids be OK? Will I be alone for the rest of my life?
Anger often shows up after reality has set in. At this point, you’re a long way from acceptance; but the reality of the inevitability has taken hold.
And here’s where the emotions have a free-for-all and increase in intensity. Both parties are in blame mode, and all that comes up is the “ugly.” As long as there are no little ears to hear your disparaging and insulting remarks about your ex feel free to let out all the pent up anger.
As a sign of grief after divorce, bargaining is a last-ditch effort to come to terms with the loss. It is also an attempt to repair the damage done to your life. It is prompted by panic, fear and a desire to regain control of the life that is being ripped out from under you.
In the bargaining stage, you will do just about anything to avoid the emotional pain. If you are the leaver, it is during this stage that you will either realize you’ve made the right decision or a mistake.
Depression can accompany all the other stages. Think of it as an undertow of sadness that sets in as you realize that the marriage is truly over. Aside from the loss itself, there are plenty of upsetting and difficult decisions that go along with divorce. Custody battles, splitting of assets, moving, loss of money — all can lead to sadness, shame and isolation.
What you may not realise is that depression can go hand in hand with all the stages of grief. As you go through the process of divorce, make sure you surround yourself with a good support system. Consider counseling because the support of family and friends goes a long way but there is no substitute for expert advice during the depression that accompanies divorce.
Cry it out and talk, talk, talk to someone who is trained to help you eliminate those toxic emotions.
Acceptance may not sound like a sign or stage of grief, but it is integral to the whole journey of grief. Negative emotions may still be present, but you become able to slowly release them.
At this stage you have accepted the reality of your divorce. You are able to embrace the guidance and support of others, and are no longer held back by the negativity of the other stages.
You may always have feelings of regret over the loss of your marriage but it is regret you can live with. You are no longer stuck in the grief.
If you are prepared for grief after divorce, you’ll come out the other side successfully. Allow yourself the time and space to grieve properly – and always allow your children to grieve, too. Remember that acceptance is also coming – there is light at the end of the tunnel.