The end of a marriage is one of the most life-changing, if not the most devastating, event bringing a surge of mixed emotions. After all, no one gets married to someone with the intent of eventually parting. So whether your marriage ends amicably or like a violent storm, you still have so many things to mourn and go through the stages of grief in divorce.
One stage is the loss of your spouse, the person who held such a special place in your heart and whom you thought you would spend the rest of your life with. You may also mourn the fact that the future you envisioned and planned to spend with that person crumbled down.
Any huge and devastating loss, such as that of a divorce, results in both parties going through a grieving process. While every divorce is unique and people go through it in different ways, you still feel a range of emotions such as the different stages of grief in divorce. These stages often include denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, and acceptance.
Stages of grief in divorce and everything else in between
While people don’t go through the same stages in the same order, these feelings are what you can expect as you go through your divorce. Here we discuss these five stages of grief and everything else in between. And show you how you work through something as life-altering as being separated from your spouse.
#1 Shock. This is the stage when you may feel shell-shocked with what happened. With this is numbness, like your mind and your body blocks the pain that led to the divorce. For some, this may take just a few minutes of emotionless limbo to even weeks of being in a daze. [Read: All the quotes you need while going through a breakup]
#2 Denial. This phase is characterized by the inability to accept the reality of the situation. Thanks to your brain, which is wired to subconsciously prevent suffering and pain, you find it hard to grasp the situation, and this denial somewhat softens the blow of your divorce.
#3 Pain and fear. As the denial wear off, the pain hits you full-force, along with the realization that, indeed, you and your spouse are now going separate ways. With the divorce, pain comes as a familiar feeling weighing on you everyday.
This is also accompanied by fear as your world comes crashing down, especially if you have been with your spouse for many years and are used to having them as part of your routine. This is also the time when you wonder if you’ll ever heal, find someone new, or if you’ll just go through the rest of your life alone. [Read: 10 stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]
#4 Anger. You may also feel anger towards your situation as you never thought something like this would ever happen to you. In cases when you feel like your partner has wronged you *such as if they cheated*, you feel betrayed. As if your whole world may have just been a lie—and you blame your partner for it.
There may also be times when you feel angry at yourself for letting things go the way they ended. Family and close friends may also feel anger towards you or the other; whereas at this stage, people close to you two will take sides.
#5 Bargaining. After the fear comes some sort of light in your head saying, “Maybe we can still fix things” or “Maybe I can still get them back.” Here you start to piece together all that you know about what happened. If it’s your spouse who wanted to divorce you, you try to bargain with them to get back together.
You may also feel a spiritual upheaval wherein you pray to God and maybe even bargain with Him to put things back the way they were. [Read: 8 reasons getting back with your ex is self-sabotage]
#6 Guilt. This guilt phase starts some sort of healing process as the reality of your divorce sinks in. You ask yourself what you could have done to lead your marriage to ruin. Backtracking on your choices, you’re plagued with “what ifs,” and feel so guilty that you just wish you could turn back time.
#7 Depression and loneliness. With divorce such a stressful and tumultuous event for anyone, depression eventually sets in. Divorce breaks a family apart and affects everyone in it. Even for parents seeing their children sad about the separation can be heartbreaking. Add to that the legal battles and all the emotional buildup, fatigue, loneliness, sadness, disappointment, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, restlessness, and many other effects set in.
Such loneliness may last for a long time, resulting in clinical depression that should be addressed by a professional.
#8 Reflection. Sometimes, people try to occupy their time with others things in order to forget about the divorce and the sadness. However, things always have a way of catching up on you. Everything you see, even the most mundane things, remind you of your partner and how things were.
You’re left reflecting on what your relationship had been, which can further trap you in deep sadness. [Read: 8 post-breakup questions you should be thinking about]
#9 Acceptance. In this phase, you start to acknowledge the reality that though you may have a failed marriage, you are not a failure. You start to accept the reality of the divorce and that there are some things you have to do alone *again*. If you have kids, you also accept the terms surrounding the divorce and how your new set up will be. You now know you are starting from square one, but that fact doesn’t hurt as much anymore.
#10 The upward turn. By this phase, though the clouds of gloom haven’t lifted yet, you feel a little better as you settle into a new routine in your life. And you have already made peace with your now ex-spouse. You are now most probably single or are about to finalize the divorce process. You say that the worst is over as you experience more better days than worse ones. From here on, be prepared to move forward. [Read: What to do after you breakup: 50 ways to detach yourself]
#11 Reconstruction. At this phase, you are now more focused on how to live your life as a single person and possibly single parent. This reconstruction phase takes some time, but the duration depends on how emotionally stable you are after grieving your divorce. As you settle into a new groove, so to speak, you at least have enough motivation to move forward, no matter how slow or speedy that would be.
You begin to plan, this time by yourself, and you are preparing for a future without your former partner.
#12 Hope. Now, you may have realized full well that life *and love* indeed moves on and your days are brighter than they were. You are now not just getting by each day—you are actually looking forward to what lies ahead. [Read: Letting go of someone you love – Minus the bitterness]
Despite all the negativity that you’ve been through as you hurdle through your divorce, you can now say that you are happy and healed, and much more positive about life. At this point, you believe that if ever you bump into your ex, you don’t have as much bitterness.
Like any kind of loss, having a marriage end *whether or not it is by your own doing* still triggers a lot of emotions. To say that it is a roller coaster ride may easily be an understatement. It’s actually a lot of dips and lows before things turn up. One thing is for sure, it’s not the end of everything and a day will come when you will eventually soar!
[Read: When to walk away from a relationship – Baby boomers vs. us]
Divorce is rough—but you will eventually get through it. Tattered, embittered, scarred, scared. But the important thing here is, you will get through. And once that happens, you’ll find out that there’s still a beautiful life after divorce.
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