“Mom, it feels like someone has died,” I tearfully said to my mother the month after my divorce was filed. The emotional pain was so overwhelming it paralyzed me. I couldn’t think clearly, and getting through the day doing even just basic tasks, like brushing my teeth or getting dressed, took every ounce of energy I could muster.
I was right, a death had occurred–the death of my marriage. What I did not realize in that tearful moment was that I was in a full-blown grief cycle. I came to learn that grief is a very important part of healing from divorce. The end of a marriage must be grieved in very much the same way as the death of a loved one. If the grieving process is not embraced, it will delay, or even stall, the healing process. This can cause many long-term emotional (and even physical) problems. To make sure you fully recover from your divorce, and to prevent it from anchoring you in your past, you must grieve.
There are five phases to the grief cycle: shock/denial, anger, depression/detachment, bargaining, and acceptance. To reach acceptance, which is the gateway to healing and moving forward after divorce, it is important to work through each phase. It is not uncommon to experience the phases out-of-order. For example, you might experience the anger phase before you experience the shock that comes with the reality of divorce. Because grieving is a process, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The good news is that grieving, when embraced, does have an end. While it may feel like life after divorce will be forever filled with sadness, anger, and despair, by understanding that grief is a cycle, we can look forward in hope to it ending.
Try to embrace your grieving much like you would embrace physical therapy. Cooperate fully with the process and endure the pain, knowing that it is necessary to fully healing and resuming a normal life after divorce.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4