Everyone will react differently to divorce. There are common stages you will go through. Stages much like those we experience at the death of a loved one. Knowing what to expect will help you find your way through the stages but nothing takes the negative feelings away.
Just like with grief of any kind it is common to move back and forth between the stages. You may find some of the stages easier to navigate than others. The thing to remember is that you eventually make your way through to healing and hope.
Emotional Stages of Divorce:Denial:
You find it hard to believe this is happening to you. You refuse to accept that the relationship is over and struggle with trying to find solutions to the marital problems. You will spend time believing that if you do or say the right thing your spouse will come home. You hate feeling out of control of the destiny of your marriage. You will be convinced that divorce is not the solution to the marital problems.Shock:
You will feel panic, rage, and numbness or like you are going crazy. You will swing between despair that your marriage is over and hope that it will be restored. It will seem impossible to cope with these feelings
You will experience some common fears when thinking about your future alone. You will wonder how you are going to survive your divorce. Will you ever find love again, will the pain ever end or will you feel this way the rest of your life are all feelings you will experience during this stage.Rollercoaster:
You can’t seem to settle your feelings and thoughts. You swing from being hopeful to feeling utter despair. During this stage, you will try to intellectualize what has happened. If you can only understand what is going on then the pain will go away and all will make sense again.
You will tell yourself stories to try to make sense of it and your imagination will run wild. You will wonder if there was more you could have done, or if there is anything wrong with you. Maybe your spouse never even loved you. You will wonder if your entire marriage was a lie.
There is a lot of mental re-hashing during this period. You will fill as if you can’t control your thinking and find yourself obsessed with the failure of your marriage. Depression is a danger at this stage and you may cry at the drop of a hat.Bargaining:
You are still holding onto the hope that your marriage will be restored. There is a willingness to change anything about yourself or doing anything and that if you could just get it right, your spouse would return. The important thing to learn during this stage is that you can’t control the thoughts, desires or actions of another human being.Letting Go:
During this stage you will finally realize that the marriage is over, that there is nothing you can do or say to change that. You will become more willing to forgive the faults of your ex spouse and take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage. You will begin to feel a sense of liberation and some hope for the future.Acceptance
The obsessive thoughts have stopped, the need to heal your marriage is behind you and you begin to feel as if you can and will have a fulfilling life. Suddenly you are looking ahead and not behind you, you are making plans and following through with them.
You will open up to the idea of finding new interests. This is a period of growth where you will discover that you have strengths and talents and are able to go forward in spite of the fear you feel. Your pain gives way to hope and you discover that there is life after divorce and the future is made brighter due to the pain you have suffered.