Struggling with Divorce? Consider the Five Stages of Grief

    March 21, 2017

    Having your life partner request a divorce is never easy. In some cases all the signs were there, maybe you have been separated for a while, maybe you have grown apart as people. Other times the request for a divorce can come seemingly out of the blue, and shake the foundations of your sense of self.


    Denial is our knee-jerk reaction to defend ourselves from bad news. Whether you were aware of your relationship breakdown or not you first instinct is likely to be denial. You may try and convince yourself or your partner that this isn’t a ‘real’ break-up or that you are just going through a rough patch. By denying the circumstances you protect yourself from the negative feelings generated, but you are also stopping yourself from moving forward.


    Denial can only last so long before you begin to admit to yourself what is happening. At this point you may find you are angry about the proceedings, but also irritable and irrational in your day-to-day life. You may find yourself mulling over past conversations and dwelling on old arguments. As well as being angry about the situation, you may find yourself feeling angry at yourself for past indiscretions and any actions that you feel have led to this point.While your feelings are perfectly valid at this point, it will be hard to find appropriate outlets and it is important not to project this anger onto your ex-partner.


    You may find yourself dropping in and out of the bargaining stage throughout divorce proceedings. Bargaining is generally a desperate effort to ‘repair’ things and convince yourself and your partner that things can go back to how they were. In the vast majority of cases, by the time you have reached this stage any attempts to rekindle the marriage will be unsuccessful and may lead to further heartache.


    It is not unusual to struggle with depression through a divorce. Not only are you separating from a life partner, you will need to make difficult decisions about housing, finances, and custody. You may lose friendships or find it difficult to continue with social and sporting activities that you shared with your partner. At this stage it’s important to remember why you have grown apart, and to look to the future.


    The final stage of grief is acceptance. This doesn’t mean that you no longer have negative emotions about the divorce, by you will move to a place where you can accept support from others and start looking to the future. In time you may be able to look back fondly on the good times of your marriage, and remembering the ending will not be as painful.

    In many ways coping with divorce is similar to dealing with any other significant loss. It will affect how you see yourself, how you interact with others and how you plan your future. You may go through all five stages of grief in order, or you may find yourself jumping back and forth between them. Regardless of what stage you are at, remember to give yourself time to adjust and look for ways to grow.

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