Grief is work, but it does a specific job, too. It’s hard like any other kind of work, but it has a definite purpose, and it has an end. That’s especially true about the grief of divorce.
I had been married 33 years, and suddenly I was faced with a midlife divorce. I was unspeakably sad about the whole thing. What I’ve discovered after my own journey and after working in the field of divorce recovery for 10 years, the grief of divorce can’t be hurried or sidestepped. Recovery takes more time than we think it should.
When I went through my own divorce, the sick-in-my-heart, sick-to-my-stomach, deep sighing kind of pain I was feeling was something I had never experienced. The oppression covered everything I did and everything I experienced with a muffling, gray all-enclosing sadness. Every breath and every move took effort. I stared at the ceiling at night. As hard as I tried to “pull myself out of it,” I failed.
Keep in mind that real grieving is a transforming process that allows you to feel the full weight of what’s happened, but also makes room for healing to begin and sets the stage for creating a future that is all you want it to be.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Big Girls (and Real Men) Do Cry – Give Yourself Permission:
Acknowledge the pain. Take the time you need. Do whatever healthy, helpful things you need to do. And, remember that tears are therapeutic. They help you release the sadness and start laying the foundation for recovery.
- Sobbing on Schedule – Set boundaries:
Often we are afraid to let ourselves fully grieve because we think we might not stop if we really let ourselves go. Give yourself specific time parameters and sob all you want to or stay in bed for a day or go to a motel for a weekend. Then, when the time is over, get back to life with new determination.
- They Often Don’t Get It – Decide Your Own Course:
Often others think we shouldn’t be so upset about this. “Lots of people get divorced,” they say. “You’re better off without him (or her). Just pull yourself together, you can find someone else.” You alone can decide what kind of grieving you need to do. Don’t try to fit your grieving to someone else’s opinion of how you should be handling your sadness.
- Grief Reruns – Viewing The Body Over And Over Again:
The grief of death is easier in my opinion. Death isn’t a choice. Our spouse decided to leave us. Grief would be easier if our ex would just fall off the face of the earth. But somehow we have to learn to deal with the trauma of seeing “the body” over and over again. Be patient with yourself and take care of your own self physically, emotionally and spiritually. Remember your legacy, too. This will get better. (Really)
- Throwing/Shouting/Sleeping – Do Whatever (legal, of course) Helps:
The grief of divorce is a very personal and private (yet excruciatingly public) grieving. Here are a few suggestions: Get in your car, drive someplace private, roll up the windows and yell as long and hard as you want. Run around the block. Clean the garage. Take a grandchild somewhere. Organize your closet. Do anything to get rid of some of that toxic energy.
Remember this: grieving does end. Do the best you can in the meantime. Grief is a process, not a project, and as you move through the journey, you get stronger. Grief is clearing the way for healing and recovery. Then you can start moving on to all that’s good and fulfilling and beautiful in the days to come.