8 Emotional Stages of Divorce
What are the Emotional Stages of a Divorce?
Divorce is a unique type of loss comparable to a death. Even though both parties are still alive, they will no longer be in your life the way they have been in the past. That’s why the emotional stages of divorce are very similar to the emotional stages of grief that people experience after a death or trauma.
No matter how amicable the separation, a divorce is the end of a significant part of your life and throughout the process, your emotions can and will change during this difficult time. It can help the healing process if you know what emotions you have already gone through and look to see how you are making process moving forward.
Understanding the Stages of Grief
There are seven stages of grief that are commonly associated with loss. There is no specific timeline they follow, and they rarely occur in a specific order. It’s not uncommon for people to feel multiple stages at the same time. The first step to moving on from divorce is understanding the different stages associated with the process.
The shock of getting a divorce hasn’t settled in yet. Perhaps divorce is against your moral and spiritual beliefs. It could be something that you never thought would happen to you. You may still be trying to fix the marriage, but denial is a common coping tool people use to avoid accepting the reality of the situation.
This stage is often associated with severe feelings of anxiety and wondering what will come next. You are unsure of how the legal process works and what precautions you need to take. Everything can feel overwhelming, confusing and difficult to manage.
You can feel anger toward yourself and your partner. Angry that the relationship ended when it did, feeling of betrayal, and having unresolved issues that you now will never have the opportunity to solve.
You may start to blame yourself and lose some self-esteem. Maybe you ask yourself “How could this happen? What am I supposed to do now?” There’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet.
You will get to a place where you’re ready to get the process over with. This can make time seem to slow down. Maybe you feel like the divorce will never be finalized or you will never be able to move on. But you’re already gotten this far, and it’s important to have trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
You may feel you were taken advantage of, feel unrecognized or jealous. You might be angry at your ex for things they did or said, and you could be upset with yourself for seemingly wasted time or effort. You can resent your ex for getting married in the first place or putting you through a divorce.
You’ve finally gotten to a point where the light at the end of the tunnel is within your grasp. You are more excited about looking forward than you are sad about looking back. You could feel relief that the relationship is over and confident about the divorce process. You now know that everything will be okay.
You now understand that divorce was the best option for you. Even if things still seem dark sometimes, you know that the right decision was made, and you can finally move forward with your life.
How to Manage Stages of Grief during Divorce
It’s extremely important to understand that the timeline for each stage is unique to everyone. Each stage may not appear in the order listed above. According to psychologists, things may seem erratic and unmanagable at first, but learning to cope with these feelings in a heatlhy way is your best bet for moving on.
Know that you are not alone.
Many people have successfully navigated divorce to reach their new beginnings. There truly is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Educate yourself on these emotional stages.
These emotional stages can have an impact on decision making and thought processes. It’s important to understand this in instances like mediation. Mediation can be traumatic for clients. As you experience the emotional stages, especially during a family law mediation, the art of listening patiently and reacting deliberately will help you maintain your composure and avoid poor decisions, comments or actions.
Consult a family law attorney
Because divorce is so traumatic, we recommend that all individuals at least consult with a family law attorney to obtain a general understanding of the divorce process.
Take care of yourself
Remember to take care of yourself during the process. Use your family and friends as a support system and, if needed, seek professional help from a psychologist or family therapist.
Where do you go from here?
Much has been written about the emotional stages of divorce but is rare to find a person who is both aware of the stages and ready to manage the associated stress and trauma of those stages, especially during the process of the divorce. Many clients admit that divorce is the most difficult experience of their lives. A good family law attorney will not only be aware of the emotional stages of divorce but also be equipped to help the client navigate decision-making during those stages.