Managing Divorce and Grief
There is a definitive pattern to the process of divorce. It starts with a period of marital difficulty that results in the decision to separate and then ultimately finalizes with the actual divorce. Managing Grief in Divorce bears a striking resemblance to managing grief in other areas of life.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a ground-breaking book in 1969 entitled On Death and Dying (Macmillan, 1969) in which she identified the five phases most people go through when dealing with grief:
Stage 1: Denial
“I feel fine.” “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
Stage 2: Anger
“Why me? It’s not fair!” “How can this happen to me?” ‘”Who is to blame?”
Stage 3: Bargaining
“I’ll do anything for a few more years.” “I’ll change, I promise!” “I will give my life savings if…”
Stage 4: Depression
“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?” “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
Stage 5: Acceptance
“It’s going to be okay.” “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
What’s this got to do with divorce?
Many experts who regularly deal with divorce suggest that the same five stages of grief apply, since couples are experiencing the “death” of their relationship. Perhaps you find yourself in one of these early stages of grief right now?
And it’s not just the death of a relationship; the legal process itself has a large degree of conflict associated with it. Following this conflict is a period where coping with the day-to-day is complicated by a sense of loss or even helplessness.
If divorce is on the horizon, you’re going to need lots of emotional support. Gather those who you trust to help carry you through this; friends, family, your religious institution, even your Human Resources department at work.
Plan for the Five Stages of Grief. Realize that you will likely walk through these stages yourself. Plan for them! Be kind to yourself. Join a support group, research the internet, read books. But most importantly realize that you WILL get through this.
Remember grief is a natural human reaction to loss. Grief is not a just simple emotion itself, but rather is an instinctual and bilogical process that will invoke all sorts of emotional reactions as it runs its course.
The dance between feeling numb and being upset will continues over time as you digests the full nature of your loss. Eventually with enough time. the loss will come to be understood by your brain as something that happened in the past.
Grief will no longer be a part of day-to-day life. Grief doesn’t so much go away but rather other elements of life become relevent again. As you struggle to master new situations, most people become self-sufficient and competent again. Typically within 18 months, a degree of emotional equilibrium will be established again.
What It Means When Your Spouse Suggests Mediation
- Mediation is typically cheaper than lawyers or the courts
- Mediation tends to be the faster divorce process
- The courts will require you to consider mediation first
- Mediation has an excellent success rate