A Look at the Five Stages of Divorce Grief
Divorce is a life-altering event that can have significant emotional, psychological, and even physical impacts on individuals. The process of going through a divorce can be akin to a rollercoaster ride, with its ups and downs, twists and turns. Each stage of the that process is akin to the five stages of grief. These five stages of grief, originally identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the context of coping with death and dying, can also be applied to the process of divorce. The stages of divorce grief are:
Initially, individuals may find it incredibly difficult to accept the reality of the divorce. They may be in disbelief, struggling to come to terms with the fact that their marriage is ending. Denial serves as a defense mechanism, protecting individuals from the painful emotions that accompany divorce. They may cling to the hope of reconciliation, desperately trying to salvage what remains of their relationship. It can be an overwhelming stage, filled with confusion and a sense of disbelief.Anger
As the reality of the divorce sets in, feelings of anger and resentment often arise. During this stage of divorce grief, individuals may direct their anger towards their ex-spouse, feeling betrayed, hurt, and deeply wounded. They may also direct their anger towards themselves, questioning their choices and actions that led to the dissolution of the marriage. Additionally, anger may be directed at external circumstances surrounding the divorce, such as legal proceedings or financial implications. This stage can be characterized by intense emotions, outbursts, and a sense of injustice.Bargaining
During the bargaining stage of the divorce grief process, individuals may attempt to negotiate or make compromises in an effort to save the marriage. They may engage in self-reflection, contemplating what they could have done differently to prevent the divorce. This stage is often marked by feelings of guilt and a desperate longing to turn back time. Individuals may make promises, seek therapy, or engage in self-improvement efforts in a bid to salvage their relationship. It is a phase filled with a mix of hope and desperation as individuals grapple with the impending loss.Depression
The emotional weight of the divorce can lead to profound feelings of sadness, despair, and loneliness. Individuals may experience a deep sense of loss, mourning the end of their marriage and the dreams they once shared. Depression during this stage is not uncommon and can manifest as a lack of energy, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, and a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Adjusting to a new life and the reality of being single can be overwhelming, and individuals may struggle to find meaning and purpose amidst the pain.Acceptance
In this final stage, individuals begin to come to terms with the reality of the divorce. While negative emotions may still linger, individuals start to embrace the idea of moving forward and focus on rebuilding their lives. Acceptance does not mean that the pain disappears completely but rather that individuals develop a sense of peace and begin to envision a future beyond the divorce. They may seek support from loved ones, therapists, or support groups, finding solace in the shared experiences of others who have gone through similar journeys. It is a stage of resilience and growth, where individuals start to prioritize their own well-being and rediscover their own identity outside the confines of marriage.
It is important to note that not everyone experiences these stages or divorce grief in the same order or with the same intensity. People may also move back and forth between stages or spend varying amounts of time in each stage. The grieving process of divorce is unique to each individual, and it is essential to seek support from loved ones, therapists, or support groups to navigate through this challenging time. Remember, healing takes time, and it is okay to seek help when needed.
Finally, if you find yourself struggling through these stages of grief or coming to terms with your divorce, seeking professional support may be a wise decision. There are professionals that deal specifically with assisting and supporting people through divorces and into their lives after the end of their marriages. If you have any questions concerning a divorce in NJ, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.