The grief of divorce
In a new series of blogs we’re really turning the focus on to you. If you’ve recently separated from a partner and feel like you’re struggling then this next series of blogs will give you some food for thought on how to take care of yourself and move forward. We’ll be covering some more holistic ideas such as the grief of divorce and talking about the energy of divorce, as well as giving you other ideas that might help you manage your separation as constructively as possible. Some of them are definitely from outside of the box but we believe strongly that there simply is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to separation.
Sometimes people going through a separation struggle to put their finger on exactly why they feel so sad or emotional. This can be particularly the case if you feel that you are better off or more positive or less stressed now that you’re no longer in a relationship with your ex partner. There can be a reluctance to use the word grief simply because there has not been a death that has promoted your feelings. There is very definitely a grief that comes with separation and divorce and this can be linked to any of the following (and more):
• A feeling that you may have somehow ‘failed’ by not being able to make your relationship work
• You may also feel that you could have made your relationship work but were robbed of the opportunity
• The day dreams about what your life would look like going forwards are now very different and you have to somehow make your peace with having a different future to the one you envisaged
• You feel let down that your ex partner didn’t do what they said or misrepresented a situation. You may also feel really angry about this. This may be the case if they are in a new relationship but it can also be the case where they had debts you didn’t know about, or weren’t there to support you emotionally or did not follow through on something they said they would do
There can also be waves of grief attached to your children such as:
o You have ended a relationship and feel guilt about them moving to having separate homes with each parent
o You feel angry and hurt that the other parent has made the decision to separate which means your children will have separate homes with each parent
o You worry about the effect this will have on them – this can be exacerbated if it’s a key time in their school life, or where they have had other things to deal with as well such as a death in the family or friendship problems
o There can be decisions that have to be made as part of separation arrangements that might mean key changes for your children such as moving school and you can feel grief that they have to do this.
This list is in no way exhaustive and you may feel other things but the point we’d really like to get across is that there is a whole grief and healing process attached to divorce that needs to be honored and can rarely be circumvented. It’s impossible to say how long this will last as it is unique to each person. Some people feel the pain lessens but they may not define themselves as having moved past their grief.
If you feel you are grieving as a result of your separation then we would suggest the following to assist:
• Accept that there is a grief process and that you will have to ride the waves of this and it will be painful but it will not always feel this intense.
• Get as much support as you can from friends and family but be open to professional support as friends and family are not always helpful and they are usually not therapeutically qualified
• If knowledge helps you then read up about grief and loss. There are a multitude of books. We’d suggest Permission to Grieve by Shelby Forsythia. We’d also recommend listening to episodes of her podcast Coming Back
• Give yourself permission to not be OK. Grief is hard and there is a reason that divorce and separation are one of the most stressful life events people go through
• Take the time you need to navigate the process of divorce and sorting out issues relating to money and children. Don’t be forced into making decisions when you’re not in the right frame of mind.
Other blogs that might be helpful:
If you’d like tips and support to help you manage your post separation arrangements then why not sign up to our free mailing list and get them direct to your inbox? You’ll get loads of tips along the way to help you mange your separation constructively too.
We also have a separate list for professionals working with separating couples or individuals. This includes resources for professionals to share with their clients and details of our forthcoming training workshops and networking events.
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