Written by Heather Debreceni, Divorce Coach www.HeatherDebreceni.com
5 methods to help you work through your divorce grief
Divorce is a loss. it isn’t just the loss of your relationship, it is the acknowledgement of the loss of the life that you thought you would be living. Nobody gets married thinking, “I will keep this one around for 5-6 years tops.”
Whether you choose to end your marriage or your former partner did, it doesn’t change the reality that a dream has ended. Your life will forever be changed. You are now faced with moving on and the daily challenges of trying to build a new dream… alone.
Although the saying, “time heals all wounds” has some merit, it also implies that all you need to do is wait out the hurt and eventually it will heal. Which isn’t true. There are steps you can take that will help you heal as you move through the ebb and flow of your grief over the loss of your marriage.
5 Methods that will help you heal:
- Keep a Journal – Each day write about one event that you had to face that day that caused you to feel anxious, upset, sad or angry. Write how you responded, what you would have changed about the situation if you could have a “do over” and what steps you are going to take in the future to ensure that you either avoid the situation or make it more bearable.
- Pick a craft any craft – Paint, sculpt, color, draw or build your feelings. Allow yourself the time to connect to your emotions and use the medium you have selected to help you create a physical representation of your emotions. Remember that your work is only for you so don’t stress over how “good” or “bad” the final product turns out. Success is based on whether or not you feel better after expressing that emotion in an artistic way.
- Make two “energy” lists – The first list should be of all the things that you do in your life that are depleting your energy or that make you feel negative. The second list should be of all the activities that you either know will replenish your energy and make your feel positive or the ones that you would like to try that you think will do the same. Once you have both list compiled, make an intentional effort to create balance between the energy that you are giving out to the world which depletes your positive energy stores and the things that you are doing in your life which will replenish your positive energy stores.
- Tip the scales – Although divorce is a loss, it is also an opportunity to create the life that you have always wanted. Review your list of positive energy depleting-negative things that you are doing in your life. Review each item and ask yourself why you are doing it. You should also ask yourself if continuing the activity helps you attain the life that you want to live. If it isn’t a critically necessary activity, make a plan for how you are going to stop or avoid doing the activity in the future. Work you way down your list one issue at a time. Eventually, the amount of energy depleting activities that you do in your life will diminish and be replaced with the life that you have always wanted.
- Write a “goodbye” letter to your marriage – Acknowledge your pain and the things you will miss most about your marriage. Apologize for the things you did wrong, your regrets and your fears about moving forward. This letter should be addressed to your marriage, it isn’t a letter for your former spouse. When you are done writing the letter, don’t keep it, don’t give it to anyone else. It should contain your deepest and most private feelings. Once you are done with it and you have said your goodbye, destroy it.
Understand that grief is a cycle. At times you won’t even remember the pain, and at others it will weigh so heavily on you that you will wonder if you can carry on. For some the grief and sadness are a constant and for some it doesn’t come until months or years after their marriage has ended.
No matter where you find yourself in the process, remember that you are not alone. Acknowledge to yourself that your feelings are valid, even it you are the one who wanted your relationship to end.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes that you made in your marriage.
Learn from your experience and be honest with yourself about your role in the issues your relationship had and the part that you played in the way that things turned out.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Even if you can look back now and see the red flags, even if you knew that things were wrong but continued on as if everything was fine, remember that it is the curves in the road that make life interesting.