Coping with divorce is a hard task to handle. To make it easier on you, learn more about the 5 stages of loss and how they can impact you.
Your world as you know it is about to change.
It is real. It is a shock. It is a complete devastation of everything that you know.
It is dealing with a loss, like losing a loved one, like losing a job. When you get a Divorce it is a death. And therefore, you have to deal with it the same way you deal with Death.
There is no true “order to this” and one can oscillate up and down and sometimes it can be just months or others it can be years – but the bottom line to come to terms with the end of your marriage and identity and family unit you must go through these 5 stages of Loss.
Coping with Divorce: The 5 Stages of Loss
This stage probably started happening years ago. Most of the time (not always) you already know there are problems in the marriage. The sex has stopped, the communication has stopped, the arguing has increased, the anger and resentment have escalated. This is usually when we are in therapy or counseling of some sort to try and fix and save the marriage. After all, there are kids, assets, real estate, money, memories, friends, community.
This is a disaster most couples want to avoid. No one marries to get a Divorce so we do usually work pretty hard in the “denial/bartering” stage to see if we can make deals, work on therapy, date again, compromise, etc with each other, to save the marriage.
Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t work, sometimes it works and still doesn’t work.
It depends on how much you want the marriage to survive. This is up to you and your spouse. But I have learned one thing – usually one has already checked out when you are in this stage. Not both, but one. And this usually means that it’s already too late.
SHOCK – WE ARE GETTING A DIVORCE
Even if you were the one that wanted the divorce, I am here to tell you that it still is a SHOCK to your system. All of a sudden your entire world of how you lived, how you operated, dinners, family weekends, kids, homework, soccer and baseball, grocery shopping, friends, holidays, playgroups, the list is endless – all of this comes to a screeching STOP.
It’s like being hit by a TRUCK. You don’t know how to cope with the pain. You don’t know how to cope with the chaos. You don’t know where you belong. You are basically running around in circles in disbelief and shock that this is real. This is happening. This is your life now.
It can get ugly here.
The ANGER with divorce is an ugly one. It’s not the same as anger from a terminal illness or death of a loved on. That’s more of an anger with Gd, with the Universe, with the Higher Power.
Anger from the divorce is actually, to me, frightening. I am not one to fight to begin with and I often always acted from a point of peace. I put water to fire always. But many people will put fuel to a FIRE and they will get so angry, that they can want to absolutely destroy everything about you.
It is scary, I must admit. I was scared, yet I realized when I look back at my divorce from 5 years ago that most of it was “made up in my head”.
You see what happens because our entire world, foundation, basis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs falls apart instantly when we get a Divorce, you basically have lost your very own grounding – your cement, your floor.
This is a very frightening period, especially for women who have not worked in many years and instead have become incredible homemakers to take care of the family and home. These women especially find themselves in the most precarious of all places as now their X is threatening to not give them any money, spend it all, spend it on a new woman, never see the kids, and keep his x in court for years until she has nothing left.
It’s that kind of ugly anger. It’s bad. I see it even now all the time. The ANGER and RAGE in the acute phase of Divorce is very ugly.
All I can tell you is this – focus on water to the fire and not fuel. Focus on not engaging. Focus on not reacting and dealing with drama but instead, respond with focus and clarify.
The more you can distance yourself from the anger and hate, the better you will be emotionally.
I also know that things always work out, that things always settle down, and that things always get worked out. It may not seem like it during this very ugly stage of ANGER, but it does. You must let time and the process of mediation/court/attorneys/therapists do their magic for things to be resolved and for your new way of life to start developing.
It does work out. It does. But it will take time.
SADNESS, DEPRESSION, and for some REGRET:
This can happen before, during or even after. It’s the real “mourning” phase of saying goodbye to the old life – your marriage, your status of being a wife, your status of being a mother of a family unit – it’s over.
To be able to move on, we must mourn what has been lost. So this stage is intense as it can include a lot of crying, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness, a lot of regrets. I have spoken to many men and women that often look back at the collateral damage and pain the Divorce caused and often wonder, “was it worth it?” They often start asking themselves if they should’ve gone through with the Divorce?
I suggest to not go there and what’s the point of crying over spilled milk?
If you are Divorced, then you are Divorced. At this point, you must focus on healing, on getting through the pain without the regret and starting to make peace with this new way of life, with this new way of you, with this new way of being.
Isolation sometimes comes here too. Be careful here as too much Isolation is not healthy but some is. I spent many many many nights crying for hours and hours and hours. I was sad for months and months and months. It was very hard for me to cope with the loss of my marriage and Divorce – and for the record – I left him! So it doesn’t really matter who leaves whom in my opinion. The minute you have kids and you are getting a Divorce – it’s sucks. Period.
But we can’t let that pull us down. We can’t let that mark us forever. We can’t let that be our anchor. We have to go through this stage of mourning and loss and sadness and let it out of our bodies.
You will know this day is here when you just wake up and you start to smile. When you start to laugh again. When you start to want to look pretty again. When you want to do activities with your friends, with your family, with your kids. When you want to fix up the house, maybe get a new job, or go get some salsa lessons.
Human nature is incredible. We as humans always have an instinct to survive. We have an instinct to get through it. We have an instinct of hope and future and getting through it.
This final stage of Coping with Divorce is total FREEDOM.
It’s freedom to show you that you can do it on your own. It’s freedom to show you that you can make it and you did. It’s freedom to show you that you are now smarter, bolder, and fearless in dealing with the world and life events.
Yet the most important realization of the acceptance stage is that of GRATITUDE. It’s getting to a point in your life that you are so very grateful for your kids, for your home, your friends, your family, and really, for your very own life.
This place of peace that comes from gratitude will give you the elixir to start living your new way of life as a single, divorced mom / woman, and it will enable you to be fearless to be you.
Enjoy Chapter 2 – it’s pretty amazing!!!