The emotional response to Divorce is very similar to that of the death of a loved one. We are losing an entire way of life, of being.
There are numerous models of grief recovery starting with the pioneering work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Her findings are published in her book, “On Death and Dying.” She created 5 classic stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
The 7 Stages of Grief in Divorce:
One must fully experience the stages of grief recovery in order to recover from divorce. Emotion and feelings will ultimately change so it is important that we experience these feelings without judging ourselves. They are only feelings.
I have added additional steps that I find most of my clients have experienced and come up with the 7 Stages of Grief in Divorce recovery:
- Denial: “This cannot be happening to me!” Our initial shock and inability to accept reality is like the earth opening up below our feet.
- Pain and Fear: Once we start to realize what is happening, we are crushed by the pain and fear of our separation. The world crashes down around us and everything we had seems to be gone. We have intense fears of how we will be able to go on, will anyone ever love me again, on and on.
- Anger: How can this be happening? What did I do to deserve such pain? Our sadness turns to rage and all the pent up emotions explode. We scare ourselves sometimes with the amount of anger we experience. We blame and are resentful and bitter. We actually feel hatred.
- Bargaining: We start thinking in ‘Ifs’. If I do this, if he could be this, if we could start over…. We even start a conversation with God or the universe stating that I promise if you give me back my marriage I will never do anything bad again.
- Depression, Loneliness: A deep sense of loss, sadness and general world-weariness is the next stage. It’s a chore to get up in the morning. Classic signs of depression show up: lack of appetite, insomnia, isolation, crying jags and lethargy are but a few.
- Inner Journey: An intense desire to heal ourselves leads us to do deep work on ourselves. We begin to separate facts from interpretations, honor the truth of our lives, heal old emotional wounds, let go of the past and being a victim, reconnect with our power and start to let go of the past.
- Acceptance: This final step is the one that allows us to move beyond out divorce into new lives. Acceptance of what is with a sense of our responsibility for our lives that results in total power over ourselves and our direction in life.
Now is the time that we can start
creating a new life
We have shut the door on the old one that no longer exists. We learn about what we truly want from life, what holds meaning for us and us alone, what our passions are and how we can integrate them into this new life.