Any breakup is difficult. But divorce is something that rocks the very core of who you are!
Divorce is something that’s not expected. You build a life with someone who you consider to be your “one and only.” Your “soulmate.”
You never expect divorce when you marry and say “to death do us part.” But let’s be real, till death is a little extreme. There are circumstances and issues in life that cannot always be resolved.
People change over time and the person we once loved with all our heart becomes a stranger to us over the years.
Just because we said vows does not mean that you should stay in misery within a marriage just to stay married. That’s not fair to anyone.
With this amount of change over the years and heartache, grieving is inevitable.
Everyone grieves during a divorce, even if you want nothing more than to be rid of your ex.
Grieving is a necessary process to help our minds and hearts heal. Unfortunately, the healing process is something that has to happen as we work through the 5 stages of grief in a divorce.
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Divorce Statistics In The United States
There is nothing more lonely than divorce! Until you are going through a divorce, you don’t realize how many people around you have gone through divorce themselves.
You can rest assure that you should not be ashamed of going through this difficult time alone. Millions of Americans have been divorced!
Here are some statistics about divorce in the United States:
- Roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce
- Second marriages have a divorce rate of 63%
- Top reasons for divorce include: lack of commitment, endless arguments, cheating, married to young, unrealistic expectations, and lack of equality
- 25% of the divorce rates occur due to domestic violence and abuse of some form
These are just some of the divorce facts in the U.S.! So please don’t feel alone in your grieving during divorce.
Effects Of Divorce
When you Google “effects of divorce” you will be given endless amounts of websites with articles and studies looking at the effects of divorce on children.
Yes, children are effected by divorce. But men and women who are getting the divorce are effected first.
So how does the mind and heart change during and after a separation and divorce?
According to Marriage.org, you may experience the following effects during a separation or divorce:
- Decreased feelings of happiness
- Feeling lonely
- Isolating from those closest to you
- Less focus and concentration
- Increased anxiety and/or depression
- Increase in substance abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling helpless
- Increased anger and/or frustration
- Stress related health issues
The same article also notes that while these symptoms seem devastating, they do not have to be long lasting!
As long as you are adapting to the situation and trying to better yourself, these horrible common effects don’t have to last!
As you can see from the effects, grief is a common denominator for men and women going through divorce.
In order to heal, we need to go through the stages of grief to work through our struggle and heal for the long-term.
A Note About The 5 Stages Of Grief In A Divorce
Before we divulge into these 5 stages of grief in a divorce, there is an important note to make: Not everyone goes through each stage of the grieving process!
The 5 stages of grief in a divorce is more complicated than people give it credit for! Every person is different. Therefore, how they grieve and process things during divorce is also different.
Some individuals go through every stage of divorce from one to five in order.
Others, will skip a stage and then go back to it later. It all depends on how they process their emotions and what circumstances are involved in the divorce.
More often than not, many individuals going through a divorce go through the five stages over and over, almost in an endless loop.
So the question remains: When does an individual get through the five stages to end the grief from divorce?
That depends on a multitude of factors including elements of abuse in the marriage/divorce, children involved, length of the divorce itself and the resilience of an individual.
Before we discuss the 5 stages of grief in a divorce, know that there is no right way to grieve and everyone grieves differently!
So please, don’t feel ashamed of going through a stage or two of the five stages of grief process multiple times.
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5 Stages Of Grief In A Divorce
Stage 1: Denial
This first stage of grief is one of the hardest and typically first among all individuals going through a divorce.
Denial can be an ugly thing! But why do we deny something we know is happening whether we like it or not?
Denial is a type of psychological coping mechanism. The reality of divorce is too painful to deal with so we deny the truth to protect ourselves.
Without denial, you wouldn’t care about your marriage or your partner. Denial is a common coping mechanism for anyone who have just found out they are separating and/or divorcing.
Stage 2: Anger
You can only deny the reality of a divorce for so long. Therefore, as reality sets in, your denial turns to anger.
This anger can be anger in general toward the situation, your ex or even yourself. It all depends on you.
You maybe blaming your ex for wanting a divorce. Or maybe you are blaming yourself for not trying harder to keep the marriage working.
Whatever the reason may be, rest assured that anger is a normal part of the 5 stages of grief in a divorce!
What’s most important to remember is that you need to learn how to control your anger and frustration. Anger can display itself in different ways.
Some people may unintentionally display their anger toward themselves leading to self-destructive behavior like substance abuse.
Anger can also be increased toward your children.
But please remember that while you may be angry at yourself, your spouse, and the divorce in general, your children are not at fault and do not deserve your anger!
When you feel yourself becoming angry and wanting to act out on that anger, try some of the following techniques to minimize outbursts!
- Take a deep breath and think before you speak!
- Try progressive muscle relaxation for built up tension
- Repeat a positive affirmation
- Listen to calming music
- Give yourself a timeout
- Scream into a pillow
- Start a creative project (painting, crafting, exercise)
Anger is an emotion you need to handle long term. Just when you think you have control of your anger, this emotion can creep in and erupt again at any moment.
This needs to be combated with a long-term solution to manage it!
Stage 3: Bargaining
Bargaining is a grief state in which we try and negotiate with our spouse to somehow save the marriage.
When your bargaining is rejected by your spouse you’re left with increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, and grief.
Some individuals may not go through this stage at all because they simply want out of the marriage. Instead, your spouse may be the one bargaining with you.
If that is the case, this stage can be mentally exhausting for you as your spouses bargaining can seem like begging to resolve what in your mind cannot be resolved.
Even if you are not the one doing the bargaining, this is still a stage that happens for other people.
It’s important to keep firm boundaries during this stage with your spouse and to confront them with sincere honesty about how you feel about the marriage.
Stage 4: Depression
No matter what the circumstances for the divorce, this stage of the 5 stages of grief in a divorce is unavoidable!
There’s no escaping some form of depression no matter how light or extreme it may be.
No one leaves a divorce and goes through the divorce process in complete happiness. It just doesn’t work that way!
Most individuals experience increased depression symptoms during the divorce process and even after the divorce is finalized.
While this is technically known as “situational depression,” it does not mean that the depression is any less severe than persistent depression.
It’s also important to note that “situational depression” does not end after the divorce is finalized.
There’s no timeline for how long the depression symptoms will continue during and after the divorce! That all depends on you and your situation!
At times, many individuals are experiencing symptoms of depression without knowing they are. That’s how deep depression goes!
Some depression symptoms you may be experiencing during divorce include:
- Feeling hopeless
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Appetite changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of interests in things you once loved
- Increased irritability
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Increased crying spells
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out to friends, family, and a health professional to get the help you need to make the quality of your life better as you get through this difficult time.
Stage 5: Acceptance
This if the final stage of the 5 stages of grief in a divorce. Eventually, everyone gets to this stage.
In this stage, you have accepted that your marriage is over and your life is going in a new direction.
You no longer think of your ex. You may even have started to date and try to find love once again.
There’s no timeline for when you will reach a level of acceptance.
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Remember, not everyone moves through the 5 stages of grief in a divorce by going through each stage in order.
Many men and women instead, go through different stages at different times, and many of the stages can be repeated. This can leave you feeling like your going through a “grief loop” with no escape.
Divorce is one of the most heartbreaking things to occur in your life because you try your best for it not to happen. Unfortunately, the universe has different plans for you!
Although it may seem like there is no way out of this grief process with divorce, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Time is the only factor that will determine how long the 5 stages of grief in a divorce last.
The more time you devote to healing yourself through self-care, the quicker you will move on from this grief.
The Stages of Grief During a Divorce or Breakup (choosingtherapy.com)