When you're struggling to get closure on your former marriage, unforeseen circumstances can crop up. When you are coping with divorce, trying to adjust and heal can be interrupted by life’s events. It is challenging enough to face big stressors as a team (married), and it can be overwhelming when you're newly single and without the support of a partner at your side. The secret is to let go of what is fixed and out of your control. Discover how you can modify what is in your power to change. Guilt is a red flag that something is amiss and an action could be taken. For example, a woman coping with divorce recently had to place her father with dementia into an assisted living facility. She was frantic that her landlord would not let her keep her father’s beloved cat. The feline fellow went to a shelter which sometimes euthanizes older cats. She also felt guilty that she could only go twice a week for three-hour visits with her father. We broke down this situation into what she could control. The cat was transferred to a no-kill cat rescue group which will keep the cat for however long it takes for him to be adopted. After one half hour into a visit, her father lost his focus on her. We tweaked it so that she goes in more frequently, for a shorter time period and has more intense interactions with her dad. This divorced woman is calmer after making these adjustments.
Ask for help. Sometimes people do not know how to reach out to others or feel awkward accepting assistance. One can only be on automatic pilot for so long. A year after my divorce was finalized, my mother had a major heart attack and died within five months. I asked a neighbor to invite my younger son over for occasional dinners and playdates. I am an only child and required a support network to keep me going. My ex was taking me to court repeatedly for issues which were later dismissed. I was at the breaking point when I grabbed the opportunity to take a business trip to Jordan among the chaos. Friends helped my eighteen-year-old watch his younger brother. I returned able to be supportive to my mother and sons. Take care of yourself too.
What hits people coping with divorce the hardest is the empty nest. My married friends have their spouses right there when they're feeling blue. The couples dash out to dinner or do activities together. There is another adult in the house for conversations. My cats are company, but cannot get into discussions or run out for a latte. One can feel lonely. I make a point of phoning my long-distance friends to feel connected. A divorced pal solved the empty house problem by taking a job abroad. She is a nurse on a US base in the Marshall Islands. Having a new job in a different environment is one solution. A less drastic approach is to join organizations or groups. I am in MeetUp.com and dine out and go to the cinema. This organization is world-wide and caters to various interests. I met stimulating people through Toastmasters International and have refined my public speaking ability. The trick for getting through the empty nest post-divorce is to add activities, social or professional, to one’s agenda. Stay busy. When a crisis hits right after divorce, get grounded. Take some deep breaths and feel your feet on the floor. When my mother had her heart attack, I felt like I was dealing with this urgent situation while floating outside of my body. Consider meditation to calm your mind. Participating in sports and getting physical lessens anxiety and feeling jittery. Stress depletes B vitamins, so you may want to consider taking them. Ask a healthcare provider if any supplements would be beneficial for you. I take curcumin and Omega-3 to reduce the inflammation in the body which is caused by stress. You can survive life’s adversities post-divorce with the support of others. The Beatles got it right when they sang: “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.”