Be Understanding of YOU: Allowing Yourself to Grieve is Important
Divorce and grief go hand and hand, but it’s important to understand that this is not the “new normal”, although you will likely experience it for a period of time. Some people bounce back quickly and some take much longer – both of these are fine. Be understanding to yourself. You will come out okay.
Grief isn’t just one emotion – it’s many and goes through many stages including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance according to pioneers Kubler & Ross who put forth this idea decades ago. When getting divorced, you are essentially watching an aspect of yourself fade away, so it goes without saying that grief is a natural outcome.
Knowing that you aren’t alone and knowing that everyone goes through some level of grief in their divorce can definitely be helpful. It’s also good to know that there will be days where you feel like you’ve made a lot of progress and then those where you feel like you’re right back at square one. Don’t despair! People aren’t expected to go through all of these steps in order and there is often some return to various stages (anger, denial, etc.). This doesn’t mean that you aren’t moving forward.
Here are 6 tips to help you navigate the confusing process of grieving during a divorce.
- Re-discover yourself. In relationships, we settle into patterns that are often combinations of what both partners can agree on, sometimes to the sacrifice of our own “self”. Whether it’s something big you’ve put on the back burner (friendships, exercise, reading, crafts, etc.) or something like a tv show or ice cream flavor, guess what? Now you can have fun with yourself and your own likes and desires. Enjoy these things and treat yourself with care.
- Share your emotions with supporters. As we mentioned above, grieving is not linear and there will be “setbacks”. But it is normal to have good days and bad days. Don’t bottle up your emotions. During times like this it is important to have a support system. Confide in someone who will allow you to be honest without the fear of being judged or criticized.
- Get help. If you’re feeling alone, it’s more than okay to seek outside help. Therapy or a support group can be a great way to let off steam and aid the healing process. There is no shortage of divorce support resources both in-person or online.
- Build friendships. Meet new people and rebuild your network. Go to events for single people. Many workplaces, houses of worship, and even meetups have a ton of fun events that are free or inexpensive. This is a great time to build friendships with people with similar interests.
- Cry. Release the tension, let it out and know that life will go on. Crying is not only okay, it’s encouraged. According to Dr. Jerry Bergman, scientific studies have found that after crying, people actually feel better, physically and physiologically. Further, people actually feel worse by suppressing their tears.
- Remember that you will move on. If you are already deep into the divorce process, do not dwell on the past or start to overanalyze the situation. All of the complications and emotions you are feeling make this a confusing time. You will be ok.