When people experience loss, it’s natural to move through various stages of grief. Divorce proceedings can trigger the grieving process like any other trauma.
Understanding these stages of grief can be a terrific support throughout your separation. Why? Because it serves as a reminder that you’re not alone.
Going through a divorce can feel similar to someone passing away. Think about it. You’ve spent so much time with this person and built a life with one another. You may have kids, even grandkids. You’ve grown together and shared so many experiences.
And now all of a sudden, your relationship is gone.
Divorce is different for every couple and individual. But there are five stages that most people will progress through. Here’s our explanation of the stages of grief: divorce.
The 5 Stages of Grief: Divorce
If you weren’t the one that initiated the divorce, you may be thinking your partner will change their mind. Or hoping that they’re just having a midlife crisis that they’ll bounce back from.
And if the split was your idea, you might be struggling to fully admit to yourself that the relationship is over. Or finding it difficult to accept that there’s no going back. No matter what side you’re on, letting go of love is always hard.
This is what denial looks like.
Denial helps to alleviate the initial shock and pain of your relationship breaking down. It’s your body’s way of temporarily protecting you, while you come to terms with your new reality.
But eventually, you have to move past the stage of denial, so that you can begin to heal.
In a divorce, both parties may experience anger; towards themselves and each other. There are many potential reasons for this anger.
Maybe your partner was unfaithful. Or you blame your partner for your regrets or unfulfilled ambitions. Perhaps you just feel angry that things haven’t worked out like you hoped they would, and your partner is the easiest person to blame.
Additionally, you may experience anger because of the actual divorce process. Filing and settling a divorce can be a lengthy and stressful ordeal. Even if you’re ending things on relatively good terms, you’ll likely experience moments of frustration at some point.
Avoid allowing these frustrations to take over. Instead, take a deep breath and a time out. Choosing to take the high road can be challenging, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did.
Bargaining can show up in different ways throughout the stages of grief, divorce proceedings, or otherwise. It may be an attempt to save the relationship by promising to do anything and everything the other person wants.
Or, if someone feels they’re responsible for the end of the marriage, it could be their attempt at releasing their guilt. They might do this by giving the other person more of the settlement than they’re entitled to.
Bargaining is simply a way for people to regain some kind of control in a situation that feels wildly out of their hands. And when you’re making this transition from a couple to an individual, it’s natural to feel like you’ve lost control of the reins.
Remind yourself that this is a natural response to your situation. It too will pass.
This can be one of the most challenging stages of grief in divorce
The reality of everything is probably sinking in now. Your marriage has ended. You might feel some shame around the fact that you’re now a divorcee. Or maybe you feel lost, unsure of what to do or where to go from here.
Experiencing these feelings can be overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that they’re totally normal considering your situation. Remind yourself that it’s all part of the healing process.
People handle this sadness in different ways. Some throw themselves into their work. Others rebound and get into a serious relationship. And some people may start drinking or partying, to take their mind of how they’re feeling.
Our advice? Surround yourself with good people that you love and who love you. Take time to reconnect with yourself and practice self-care. Maybe join a support group, or try therapy.
In time, the pain should ease away.
The final stages of grief, divorce and acceptance
Now, you’ve reached the final phase. Getting here is not a set path. Everyone’s journey through divorce is different and acceptable.
Acceptance means you feel at peace with your reality. You’re no longer trying to run or hide. You’re ready to face this. And more importantly, overcome it.
The stages of grief in divorce can be challenging and draining. But remember, you will get through this. Millions of people have gone through a divorce and have not only survived, but thrived.
Feel free to let go of any tensions you’ve been holding onto, and choose to move on. There’s life after divorce. Maybe one more beautiful than you can imagine.