Good Grief

“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


Originally posted 2014-05-20 06:00:48.

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4 thoughts on “Good Grief

  1. At least you has a mum to turn to. Mine was not speaking to me when my marriage broke down. She had taken umbridge at me caring for my father while he was ill the previous year, saying that I favoured him over her. My sister, when I told her, did the ring around to to other family members to share what was, for me, devastating news but I did not hear from my mother until six months later. I envy people who have family to help them through the crisis of divorce. Imagine having a mother so full of hate toward you that she couldn’t even pick up the phone for you at the worst time in your life.

    • I am so sorry for the challenges you are facing with your family. Remember, that Christ was severely mistreated by those that loved him. Turn to him. He will never abandon you. Seek him out, especially in the Eucharist. He is accompanying you through all of this. The Stations of the Cross are a particularly powerful reminder of the suffering experienced by our Lord and how his suffering resulted in an incredible resurrection. You may want to check out our Prayers for Divorced Catholics book which has a very powerful Stations of the Cross included. Keep the faith! Vince Frese

  2. I have tried however our faith keeps telling me I am still married. I have PTSD from this & I continue to go in a never ending circle. Worst experience of my life that I keep reliving.

    • Jim,

      I understand your pain. With healing bring perspective. Our Catholic faith is the pathway to healing. You can pursue an annulment. Many Catholics find that that brings healing and closure after divorce. Start simple: sit in front of the Eucharist and ask Our Lord for help and healing. That is sure to bring some relief. I have personally witnessed the Eucharist heal so many divorced Catholics. Check out the very hopeful comment from Leti:

      Live Abundantly,