When your marriage ends, you experience several losses at once: the loss of familiarity, the loss of company, and the loss of support. While it's perfectly normal to experience the wide variety of emotions normally associated with grief, it's healthy to grieve that loss or losses. In fact, people find that different aspects of loss arise at different times throughout the divorce process, and even after.
Stages of Grief
Whether you end your marriage amicably or you argue every step of the way, when everything is finished, you may be left with post-divorce grief. This is entirely too common for many individuals during the divorce process and these feelings are known as the stages of grief. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Those who didn’t initiate the divorce often spend a significant amount of time in the denial stage. In certain cases, it may be the cause of a delayed response to divorce papers *. Denial provides comfort as it allows people to distance themselves from an overwhelming reality.
The anger stage is frequently visited by both parties. It is heavy with blame, rage, and cynically dissecting events in your marriage. Because people suppress their emotions while in denial, emotions unleash when they evolve to this next phase. It’s important to be patient with yourself and encourage your spouse to do the same. Otherwise, it can become consuming. Hostile and vindictive decisions are often made in this phase. To best serve the interests of your family, allow yourself time to cope with the stress of the situation so you are not making decisions purely on emotion.
The initiator is often surprised that they struggle with the bargaining stage. For those individuals, what they’re actually battling is doubt and guilt. As they weigh the odds, it leads them to question their decision and analyze the consequences. However, going back and forth during this stage is common.
Truthfully, the length of this stage is often long. It can also be the most difficult. It is the darkest period of the night right before dawn. At this point, the reality of the situation has settled in for both sides. This wave of understanding is often overwhelming, sometimes debilitating. During this phase, it’s important to lean on your support system and accept help when offered. It’s important to seek counseling for children if they are also struggling with depression. For all parties affected, a trained and experienced therapist can be a worthwhile investment in long-term healing.
Most people find what they consider peace during this phase. Beyond dealing with their reality, they are able to embrace it with hope for the future. You may still experience some negative emotions. It’s also common at this stage to briefly revisit one of the prior stages. Except, you are no longer consumed by those feelings. Though you are not getting your old life back, you will feel a sense of joy. Reclaiming some of your old self and welcoming the oncoming changes is empowering.
For many people, forgiveness is more of a process than a singular benchmark achievement. There is no timeline on how long it should take, as everyone grieves and heals in their own way and in their own time. Forgiveness is a sign of true healing, where a person is not only able to forgive an ex-spouse, but also himself or herself for anything he or she did that may have contributed to the divorce (or the pain associated with it). Once a person is able to forgive, they are truly free and ready to move forward completely and without regrets.
Contact Law Offices of William L. Geary for Personalized Counsel
If you are considering divorce or if you have been served with divorce papers, you will need an experienced Columbus divorce lawyer on your side. At Law Offices of William L. Geary, we work to help our clients to pursue the best possible outcomes for their divorce and family law cases.
To speak with someone on our team and get a case evaluation, call (614) 289-1227 today.