Finding Hope After Divorce: Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss
Divorce is one of the most stressful life experiences involving lots of change and losses
The Christmas break can mean spending an extended period of time with your spouse, which can be like a magnifying glass over your relationship and can be the breaking point for some. It’s well known that family law firms have an influx of appointment requests for unhappy couples in the first week back in January.
Divorce is one of the most stressful life experiences involving lots of change and losses. Getting married comes with lots of expectations, such as buying your home together, perhaps having a family together, and growing old together.
Whether your marriage ends peacefully or explosively, there will be an element of grief when it ends. (Feelings of grief aren’t only for bereavement, it’s defined as the change or ending of a familiar pattern of behaviour).
Divorce grief might include:
Loss of the future you had planned or hoped for.
Loss of the person you thought you’d spend your life with.
Loss of intimacy.
Loss of company.
Feelings of shame.
Feelings of failure.
Loss of financial security.
Feelings of guilt, perhaps if you have children or pets together for breaking up the family unit, or if you feel you’ve let anyone down.
Loss of wider family members.
Anger, especially if you feel wronged.
When a relationship ends, there might be things we wish we’d done or said differently, or better. If you don’t release these feelings, there is a high possibility you will carry them around with you consciously or unconsciously. Feelings of self worth can in turn be impacted, affecting other areas of your life, such as loss of self belief at work, and can easily be carried over into a new relationship.
What can you do about it?
You’re likely to be in survival mode. Give yourself the opportunity to feel what you’re feeling, including having duvet days where you have a good sob, or days when you just want to be outside to breathe.
Mindfulness activities, doing anything that keeps you in the present moment, such as yoga, or doing something active or fun, will allow you to focus on yourself. Self care includes a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise. One activity a day will help you recreate your self worth and self esteem when it’s taken a knock.
You don’t need to go through your pain alone. Speak to a good friend or relative who will listen, or find professional support who will provide guidance, rather than someone who might react emotionally, or take sides and tell you what to do. We have grief specialists who specialise in divorce grief, you can find out more about them here.
Before Starting Again…
Ahead of a new chapter, spend some time acknowledging and owning your part in your past. Listing strengths, weaknesses, unhealthy patterns, or whether you choose a particular type over and over, and why, will help you to recognise your behaviours and ‘non-negotiables’ in the future. It will also help you to see your part in the relationship, and accept responsibility for part.
Take this as a time of discovery and change and growth, and creating space for a healthy new you.