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Coping with Grief during the Divorce Process

How many times have you heard the insufferable, flippant and ironically cheerful statement “No pain, no gain!”?

Why would the angst-full experience of a divorce not conjure up similar sentiments?

There is no way anyone would request this process be undertaken if they didn’t have it clear in their mind that a better situation for themselves were not going to be on the other side of it.

Whether you are the one asking for the divorce, or the one who is on the receiving end of the request, or if it’s a mutual decision, there is no getting around the loss of a dream, a hope, your life together, the relationship, a promise not kept.

And with that loss, comes grief.  Typically, there comes a great deal of it!!!

In fact, some have said that the actual passing of a spouse might be emotionally somehow more forgiving than a divorce situation.  How so?  Because when your spouse dies, they did not “choose” to abandon, as one may have “chose” to do when they filed for a divorce.

It may come in different degrees, and it comes in different shapes and sizes.   Like some who have experienced the passing of a loved one after a very long and debilitating illness, the loss of a long troubled marriage may come as almost a relief, but still, it is a loss, and a passing.  It may come as a devastation that hits and when it does it follow with major depression, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, crying jags, and an inability to focus on even the simplest of tasks.  Or it may seem like it’s almost “too easy” and things are going just great, and then like a “delayed reaction” it hits you, and you feel numb and very lost and unsure of yourself all over again.  As you may have heard it put, it comes “in waves”.  It really does!  It comes, it goes, it passes, and it comes again.  But it does tend to get better with time.

That’s the thing I like to tell people.  It does get better with time.  It always does.  But until then, there are things that you can do to improve things, to help make you feel a bit better.  Here are some things for the here and now that might help:

Cultivate connection… of family, friends and others who are supportive, positive and hopeful.  Support groups focus on positivity.  Alone time can be good, but be careful not to isolate yourself.

Open up…..Share how you feel.  Be vulnerable.  Ask for help when you need it.

Cultivate new friendships…….try new things.  Go to new places.  Take a class.  Go to, look up local events.

Discover comfort in reading……books that explore about loss and love are a means to provide wisdom and advice, such as Good Grief by Granger E. Westberg

Connect with a therapist – many people find working with a therapist helpful during this stressful challenging time.

The key is not to get stuck in the “denial” stage of grief, and simply ignore or bury your feelings.  Those feeling must be addressed sooner or later, and the consensus is that the sooner you process them, the sooner you can heal.

Allow yourself the opportunity to feel and to heal.  Recovery will come.  Self-care, the taking time to care for yourself, eat right, exercise, sleep, may all sound cliché, but those are time tested sure fire ways to help you get over the required crossing over the bridge of grieving.

Elaine Saunders
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