“Time heals all wounds.” “Keep your chin up.” “You’re better off without your ex anyway.” These are common clichés that caring friends and family members can offer without realizing that the complex grieving process after a divorce cannot be attained by hearing such simplified sentiments. Grief is hard, messy and very personal. It is a process that requires active participation on your part to come to terms with your feelings about your divorce, and your ex-spouse. Here are some things to consider as you move through the grief process. (These tips are relevant for any relationship that has ended.)
Give yourself a break.
You are allowed to feel sad, angry, confused, or any other emotion that pops up post-divorce. There is no right or wrong. Honor how you feel throughout the process. Others may have your best interest in mind by saying “just get over it” but just know that the grieving process occurs on YOUR timeline. There are no time limits. You are unique. Factors such as; how it happened and why, how bad the marriage got before the divorce happened, and children among many others determine your individual process. Give yourself permission and time to feel deeply.
Before real healing can truly happen, you have to come to terms with the fact that that your marriage is over. If you are the one who initiated the divorce, you may be far past this point, however your new path brings its own challenges that can create fear and emotional discomfort. If your ex was the one who wanted the divorce this may be a sticking point effecting your moving on. Divorce is a devastating life event, and not one that anyone would choose or create for themselves if it could be avoided. One thing you do have control over is the ability to accept responsibility for choosing to move forward.
Learning to let go of anger.
Anger can often be a feeling associated with a divorce and the end of a relationship. In the cases of infidelity, excessive spending, substance abuse, or dishonesty this could be magnified. Forgiveness is essential to moving forward. Hanging onto anger not only clouds clear thinking, the unresolved stress associated with it can lead to behaviors to relieve the uncomfortable feeling – excess drinking, smoking, emotional eating and sleeplessness. Stressful emotions such as anger can also sap the precious vital energy needed to maintain your health and forward motion in your business and relationships.
NOTE: If you are feeling a bit of resistance to the idea of forgiveness this is normal. Just know that forgiving someone does not mean that you condone the behavior that caused the hurt; it means you understand that resolving anger is good for your peace of mind, your body and spirit. You can’t control what anyone else says or does however you have complete control over how you feel about these events in your life. It may not seem easy at the moment however there are tools that make it easier to accomplish this and return to emotional balance quicker.
You may be angry at yourself as well. This is normal too. If you are spending time rehashing what you “could’ve, would’ve, should’ve” done this is a sure sign that there is a need to gently forgive yourself. This is a time of life to extend compassion to yourself.
The weight of sad and painful feelings.
Divorce causes emotions and it may feel as though they will never subside. You may feel like you don’t want to leave your house or get out of bed. You might even feel like you are carrying a heavy weight around. All too quickly these emotions can become part of your “norm” and swept away in the midst of busy days. It is important to acknowledge and release them. The hidden and unresolved longterm stress from grief can add up over time and create emotional and physical issues. Common perception is that these feelings are something to just wait out, and eventually they will go away. The truth is that learning tools and techniques to identify the specific events and memories that we are unfinished with will help us work on resolving the sadness and pain of the divorce.
Working towards feeling better.
While there is no set timeline on which the grieving process must occur, you can set a goal of reaching a place where you have found a sense of resolution with your divorce and the circumstances surrounding it. Visualize what this will look like for you. Set a goal of crafting a vibrant, fulfilling post-divorce life, and actively work towards reaching that.
Diana E. Ruiz, M.A.
Diana E. Ruiz MA helps women entrepreneurs resolve deep losses in life and relationships through practical steps so they can feel good in their skin again and experience their true brilliance in life and business. “The work Diana does is personally freeing and liberating…the added bonus? I am on fire in my business!” Rae Anne Hall – CEO Forward Principles – Diana is an Author, Grief Recovery Method Specialist®, Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner
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