Divorce is painful. No one gets married with the intention of going through a divorce and the process can cause a range of emotions that will need coping with.
This article will examine what the emotional process could look like. We’ll also take some time to list strategies that you can use to help combat these negative emotions.
The Five Stages of Grief
You may recall the five stages of grief from a psychology book you read somewhere along the line.
The idea was first presented by Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, in her book titled “On Death and Dying.” While her work didn’t focus on divorce per say, her five stages of grief can be applied to any situation in which the sufferer is experiencing a significant loss. The loss of your relationship through divorce, and the subsequent grief, are significant and can present themselves through some or all of these stages.
You may identify with some, all, or none of the following stages:
You don’t want to accept that the divorce is happening. Or, if you are the one serving the papers, you may be in denial about any negative feelings you have about the coming process.
This is the stage we often associate with divorce. You may get along with your spouse well enough, but when emotions are running high, we play the blame game or make rash decisions that aren’t in anyone’s best interest. This stage can be even worse in a contentious divorce.
You may feel some amount of doubt or guilt about the process. Is this really the right decision? Are we being too hasty in calling it quits? It isn’t uncommon for divorcing individuals to try to save the marriage at the last minute.
This is when the reality of the situation sets in. You start to mourn the loss of the relationship with a person with whom you’ve shared a large part of your life. Feeling overwhelmed about the future and the current situation can leave you unable to deal with the matter at hand.
Sometimes, the acceptance stage feels far away when you’re in the thick of the divorce process. But, eventually, you will be able to move forward with your life and feel a sense of relief and happiness that you are able to take your life back into your own hands.
How are you supposed to cope with all the emotions going on in your head? Here are just a few ways that you might be able to limit how overwhelmed you feel and take care of your mental and emotional health.
- Focus on self-care and your physical needs (sleep, diet, exercise)
- Ask for support when you need it, and say no-thanks to advice when it isn’t needed
- Get the kids some support to help them cope. They’ll be experiencing some or all of these emotions as well.
- Write about it. Writing down your thoughts regularly can help lessen the constant thoughts going through your head. It can also be a great tool for self-assessing your emotions.
- Exercise to vent your frustrations (Kickboxing is a great cathartic option!)
- Let yourself grieve without guilt.
- Say no. You’re dealing with a significant, life-altering event and it may be necessary to say no to volunteering, taking on more at work, etc. until you’re ready.
- Mediate or try yoga to relax.
- Let yourself be imperfect in the process and know that that is okay.
Additionally, never be afraid to accept help and support from your friends, family, and divorce team. Their presence is an important part of the healing process and their help may be one of your strongest coping strategies.
Allow yourself to feel. Rather than negating negative emotions, recognize them and then find coping strategies that are practical for you.
You will get through this.