"Time heals all wounds." "Keep your chin up." "You're better off without your ex anyway." Are these some of the sentiments you've heard since divorcing your spouse? While your family and friends mean well, the reality is that the grieving process in the aftermath of a divorce cannot be summed up in a neat little cliche. Grief is hard, messy and very personal. It is a process that requires active participation on your part to come to terms with your feelings about your divorce, and your ex-spouse. If there are children involved which requires that you and your ex continue to interact, that factors into the healing process as well. Here are some things to consider as you move through the grief process.
Give yourself a break.
You are allowed to feel sad, angry, confused, or any other emotion that pops up post divorce. You don't have to "just get over it" because someone else thinks you should. The grieving process doesn't occur on a finite timeline. So many factors play into how fast or slowly a person heals. Things like who initiated the divorce and why, how bad the marriage got before the divorce happened, and children among many others determine what your healing process will look like. One of the most important things to remember is that you give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling.
Before real healing can truly happen, you have to come to terms with the fact that that your marriage is over. If you are the one who initiated the divorce, you may be far past this point. If your ex was the one who wanted the divorce this may be a sticking point effecting your moving on. Divorce is a devastating life event, and not one that anyone would choose or create for themselves if it could be avoided. One thing you do have control over is the ability to accept responsibility for choosing to move forward.
Learning to let go of anger.
Anger can often be a feeling associated with a divorce and the end of a relationship. In the cases of infidelity, excessive spending, substance abuse, or dishonesty this could be magnified. While forgiveness may be the last thing you want to do, it is essential to moving forward in your healing journey. Another aspect to anger is that you may be angry at yourself. This is normal too! If your actions led to your ex wanting divorce, or you are focusing on all the things you could have done differently, you need to work on forgiving yourself!
Focus on the the present moment, not the past.
If you find yourself focusing on what you could have done differently in your marriage you may begin to think that if you change, you could get your spouse back. This is also normal! Running through the "what if", "if only" scenarios is one of the ways we come to terms with our own actions. The reality is, we can't change what has already happened. What we can do is identify our actions that may have contributed to the demise of the marriage, and learn from them for future relationships.
The weight of sad and painful feelings.
Divorce causes emotions and it may feel as though they will never subside. You may feel like you don't want to leave your house or get out of bed. You might even feel like you are carrying a heavy weight around. Common perception is that these feelings are something to just wait out, and eventually they will go away. The truth is that learning tools and techniques to identify the specific events and memories that we're unfinished with will help us work on resolving the sadness and pain of the divorce.
Working towards feeling better.
While there is no set timeline on which the grieving process must occur, you can set a goal of reaching a place where you have found a sense of resolution with your divorce and the circumstances surrounding it. Visualize what this will look like for you. Set a goal of crafting a vibrant, fulfilling post divorce life, and actively work towards reaching that.
Are you struggling with divorce grief? We can help guide and educate you as you work towards healing.
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