During divorce, the grief of divorce can be all-consuming. You might have heard about the stages of grief. Some talk about 5 stages whereas others refer to 7 stages. These are the body’s way of healing. I know it seems impossible right now, but there will be a time when you’ll feel okay again. It doesn’t mean that the pain goes away completely. Nevertheless, it means that you’ve incorporated the pain into yourself, learned from it, and worked out your new ‘you’.
Whether we like it or not, the grieving process is simply something we have to go through. There’s no getting out of it. I remember trying to numb the pain in various ways. While numbing might delay the immediate pain, the grief just comes back stronger than ever afterwards. Of course, everyone is different in how they go through the process. Just when you think you might have reached acceptance, something triggers your memory and you swirl straight back to denial, pain, and anger. Sometimes the stages come all at once, which is when we usually feel completely overwhelmed.
Dealing with a Routine While Processing the Grief of Divorce
Traumatic events such as the grief of divorce throw our routines and daily structures into disarray. This can also affect our relationships with friends and family who often feel awkward because they don’t know what to say. Surviving loss isn’t just about learning to accept those changes. It’s also about adapting and adjusting our routines and how we view life.
Some life changes can be so unsettling that we find ourselves questioning our core beliefs as well as who we are. And self-identity is something that we all naturally cling onto because it helps us make sense of the world. Our language, genes, and society drive us to hold onto our identity. It can therefore be terrifying when it falls apart and we are no longer the spouse who lives next door. You’ll also find that you’ll lose friends and gain some as you take on your new identity. The whole experience of divorce shows you a lot about what and who you value in life.
How to Start Healing from the Grief of Divorce
The good news is that you have a choice. It’s a hard choice, but it’s still a choice. You can choose to let your emotions overwhelm you or you can learn to feel them and then let them go. With practice and time, you’ll gradually create some distance with those emotions and they won’t seem so painful.
Start a Journal
Find time to journal or sit quietly with the pain so that you can start creating some distance. The more you face it, the less the pain owns you
Sadly, most of us have been taught that crying or showing emotion is bad. However, we need to cry tears because they help us get rid of built-up stress hormones. Let yourself cry and let the tears flow.
I realize this might sound a little forced or weird, but we need to grieve in order to heal. Distracting ourselves by being busy only delays the process. While being busy can help you function, remember to sit with yourself for at least a short time every day. Let your emotions come so that you feel them. Journaling is a very powerful tool to help you process emotions so that the new situation can sink into your subconscious.
Some things you can journal about include;
- What are you grateful for/what are your best attributes?
- What do you forgive yourself for?
- What do you forgive your ex for?
- What are all the things you never had time to do before but can do now?
- What have you learned/what might you do differently with a partner next time?
Admittedly, there were times when I couldn’t even lift a pen, let alone write or read because the pain was too much. I was lost and confused. However, the simple act of sitting with the emotions and the tears is a start. If you can, try to sit in nature, surrounded by trees if there’s a park nearby. There’s something therapeutic about bathing in the glow of a green canopy of trees or watching the birds fly by. Somehow it’s as if they’re holding you through the pain as you let the emotions just be.
Write a Letter to Yourself
Write a future letter to yourself imagining what you’ll be thinking and saying in perhaps 6 to 12 months. What advice or kindness do you want to give yourself today?
When you feel ready for this one, it’s a great exercise to show yourself that there is a tomorrow and that hope is possible. Be as creative as you can, almost as if you had a magic wand. Where will you be in 6 to 12 months’ time? What dreams are you pursuing and what advice would be useful to hear before you embark on those dreams? This is all about getting you to start thinking about what the new you will look like once you’ve gone through the process of the grief of divorce.
Be Kind to Yourself
Connect to your body and remember that whatever you’re feeling is perfectly ok and normal. Remember that you need to do what’s right for you
It was my coach at the time who said to me to be kind to myself when I was at my lowest point. I never dared admit to him that I had no idea what he was talking about. It puzzled me for years. If that’s you, then imagine your closest and dearest friend talking to you kindly. What do they say to you? What do they encourage you to do or not do? And yes, if that means taking a nap in the afternoon and that’s what you need, that’s okay. Remember that facing the grief of divorce is one of the hardest events anyone has to face.
Hopefully you’ve heard of self-care. If not, don’t worry and simply try to play around with different activities that bring you a little bit of joy. Anything from gardening, listening to music, having a bubble bath, or simply chatting with your friends could be just what you need. If you’re stuck for ideas then here’s a great list that covers all aspects of wellness.
Now that you’ve embarked on this journey facing the grief of divorce, you can only go forward. Try not to fight the pain but feel it and let it in. You can even name it and, with time, you’ll see it becoming more manageable. It never goes away but it makes you more resilient. You also become better at knowing what you don’t want as well as what you do want in life.
The best part is that you’ll be much better prepared for the next challenge that life throws at you. After all, that is what life is all about. The sooner you can embrace the pain, the quicker you’ll appreciate life for what it is, with all its ups and downs and twists and turns. It’s a hell of a journey but somehow, it’s still better than nothing.