If you are preparing for divorce or are in the midst of your divorce, you know how emotionally taxing divorce can be. You may be experiencing an array of emotions such as grief, frustration and anger. While eve...
The 5 Emotional Stages of DivorceAugust 16, 2018 - Relationship Articles
Whether you are preparing for a divorce or have just emerged from one, there is no denying that divorce can be an emotionally draining process. After a divorce, you will be grieving the loss of your marriage and promise of a future with your former partner. While every divorce is unique and comes with its own challenges, there are universally experienced emotional stages of divorce.
We have listed the 5 most common emotional stages of divorce and what you can anticipate to experience during them. It is important to understand that some of the emotional stages of divorce may pass more easily than others and that you may not experience them in a liner order. Awareness of the various emotional stages of divorce can help you best prepare to overcome each obstacle and become a step closer towards your new life.
The Emotional Stages of Divorce:
Denial is often the first of the emotional stages of divorce that people experience. In this stage it can be so difficult to mentally process that your relationship has ended that you may refuse to accept its end. Denial is a coping mechanism that works to prevent you from being overwhelmed with emotions. Many people in this stage continue with their normal life until the initial shock of divorce wears off.
Once the reality of divorce sets in, the next of the emotional stages of divorce experienced is often anger. Emotions such as rage, panic and resentment may bubble to the surface. This anger might be directed at your former spouse for hurting you and upending your life. Displaced anger is also not uncommon as people may even have short tempers with loved ones. During this difficult time, remember that anger is a natural part of the healing process and you are allowed unabashedly experience these turbulent emotions as they come.
Typically following anger is the bargaining stage of the grieving process. According to Cathy Meyer, a certified divorce coach and marriage educator, “Bargaining is a last ditch attempt at coming to terms with the decision to divorce.” During this stage you may be wondering what else you could have done to keep the marriage together, regardless of if you initiated the divorce or not.
Some people may think of compromises they can make with their former spouse as a final effort to keep the marriage together. However, bargaining is often an attempt to postpone the inevitable.
Experiencing some level of depression is not uncommon during or after a divorce. But if you do find that you struggle with depression as a result of your divorce, it is important to seek professional help. Knowing that your marriage is truly over and that your life can no longer be like it once was is a heavy weight to carry. During this stage, it is easy to feel lonely and anxious about the future. Some people may also find it difficult to properly take care of their emotional and physical needs.
The last of the emotional stages of divorce is acceptance. In this final stage you will be met with a sense of liberation as you accept that your life has changed. While you may still feel negative emotions, take pride in knowing that they cannot consume you. With this newfound sense of freedom, you can begin to prepare for your newly independent life. As you enter into this bright new chapter of your life, remember to still be gentle with yourself and to seek support from loved ones.
How to heal after divorce
No matter which of the emotional stages of divorce you are at, there are some practical steps you can take to ease the healing process.
- Build a support system: Divorce can leave people feeling isolated, but when you surround yourself with trusted friends and family, you will have a constant reminder that you are loved. You can join in-person or online divorce support groups to speak with others in your situation. You can also meet with a licensed therapist who can provide you with tailored resources.
- Focus on what you love: While divorce is a painful experience, take a moment to remember all of the wonderful things in your life such as your children, pets, good health, great job or anything else that brings you joy. Remembering all of the wonderful things in your life can help brighten any dark days.
- Learn something new: Divorce can feel all-consuming and by giving yourself the opportunity to learn something new, you will be able to positivity redirect your attention. Now can be the perfect time to learn a new language, try your hand at pottery, take vinyasa yoga, go on a meditation retreat or take on an activity you didn’t previously have time for.
- Sell the engagement ring: If you still have been holding onto your engagement ring and are unsure of what to do with it, now may be the time to sell it. Selling the engagement ring can help you continue to move on after divorce by parting with the memories attached to it. Furthermore, when you sell the ring, as well as any jewelry or luxury watches that remind you of your former marriage, you can receive additional funds to help you pave your new life. Selling your engagement ring can not only be cathartic, but also a great way to move on from a broken relationship both financially and emotionally.
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