Divorce and grief

Divorce & The Grief Cycle

When you say “I do,” you likely never anticipate a future “I don’t.” However, that’s where just about half of marriages lead. When all the hopes and dreams you pinned on your marriage come crumbling down, you likely want the divorce to be swift and painless; and yet, almost all divorces require a period of mourning. This period is known as the grief cycle, in which you’ll experience denial, bargaining, sadness, anger, and finally, acceptance.

Even if you spout “I just don’t care,” or “I want to move on” to outsiders, these can be signs you’re masking your pain. While the legal side of divorce is painful enough by itself, the emotional side of the end of your relationship with your spouse can be even more harrowing. Gone is your plus one to fun events, the days of living under the same roof with your children every day are likely over, and even the loss of your shared inside jokes can sting. What’s more, ending the marriage and signing your name on the dotted line of the divorce decree isn’t where the pain stops.

Why Divorce Feels Like Mourning a Death

When your loved one dies, you likely gather with family and friends to remember their life and the joy they brought to yours. The opposite is true of the end of a marriage. There is no memorial service, no funeral, and no burial. You simply have to move on without any ceremony. The reason divorce feels like grieving a death is because it is, in essence, the death of your marriage and partnership. You married your spouse anticipating that you’d grow old together, and now, you’re back on the proverbial market and left wondering what the next steps are.

Reasons It’s Healthy to Grieve After Divorce

Even though you likely know deep down that it is the right choice to end your marriage, your emotional intelligence won’t let you leave your matrimonial bond unscathed. Once you’ve endured the shock of the fact that your marriage is indeed ending, your feelings might morph into “what ifs” and promising your soon-to-be ex that you’ll act differently and you can make your marriage work. Unrealistic attempts at reconciliation leaves you stuck in this phase of the grief cycle until you move to the next phase: anger.

Maybe you’ve been angry for quite some time, before you even were shocked to learn you or your estranged spouse made the decision it was best to part ways. It’s understandable you’d feel anger flood your senses to deflect the hurt and avoid the feelings of sadness about the end of your relationship. Be careful, though, as anger can lead you to make poor decisions, expend unnecessary energy on futile arguments, and it can hurt your children.

Perhaps the most dreaded part of the grief cycle is sadness and depression. It’s inevitable, though, that your seething anger will morph into deep sadness and regret that you need to endure to heal. Of course, nobody wants to give in to feelings of sadness – it’s uncomfortable. You may even feel as though anger is more comfortable than feeling sad, but it will make the legal and emotional side of your divorce all the more acrimonious. But what can you do when you’re locked in to feelings of depression and fear you’ll never reach the “acceptance” stage of the grief cycle?

It's important to know that accepting your divorce does not mean you are joyful and celebrating, but more so acknowledging the reality that the marriage has ended and it’s time to move on to the next chapter of your life. Remember: It’s normal to backslide into bargaining, anger, or sadness, because grief is not linear. Acceptance is typically the final destination, but there is no clear-cut timeline for grief.

Contact Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC for a Divorce Consultation

Do you need legal advice for navigating your divorce? Contact Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced, compassionate attorneys. We look forward to helping you with divorce mediation or litigation as you enter the new phase of your life.

To contact us, please reach out online or call (512) 768-9737 to book your appointment.

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