Divorce isn’t just a legal decree. It involves deep emotions – from pain and anger to healing and acceptance. Whether you initiated the divorce or weren’t quite ready to separate, divorce can be very emotionally and mentally taxing. To better help you understand and prepare for what lies ahead, it helps to understand that divorce is a process, and, like any process, it takes time to come to terms with.
Divorce marks a very dramatic and often painful change in one’s life and can cause either or both parties to undergo the typical five stages of grief. Generally, these are the five separate stages that also represent the emotional impact of divorce. Keep in mind, however, that there’s no emotional checklist, and each person’s journey is different. If you have questions or are considering a divorce, contact our office.
The Five Stages of Grief in Divorce
The emotional impact of divorce usually follows the five states of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.
When beginning the process of divorce the first stage of grief, denial, you may find yourself having thoughts about your spouse like “they just need some space,” or “they’re just going through something,” or “this can’t be happening to me.” Denial is a response from the brain that is meant to numb the brunt of the emotional pain that you are going through. However, if you are unable to move on from this stage in a healthy amount of time, it can cause you to delay the pain or extend it over an excruciating amount of time , preventing you from healing in a normal amount of time.
Undergoing denial about a huge life event like a divorce can affect you in other ways, such as causing you to ignore the feelings of important people in your life. Understanding that these feelings are temporary may help you through this difficult time. The sooner you pass this stage, the sooner you can go on to heal and accept a new future.
The second stage of grief is anger. Once the denial is gone, feelings of vulnerability, fear, and sadness can become overwhelming. Anger is the mind’s way of deflecting these negative feelings. Anger can be a good way to help you break off the emotional attachments to an ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse.
However, anger can become blinding after some time has passed, so it is important to keep it within moderation and try your best not to let it affect your relationships, especially with your family.
Unresolved emotional conflicts can arise during a marriage’s dissolution and serve as fuel for further disputes. It is of utmost importance that at this stage, both spouses stay emotionally in control and refrain from painting an image of an unfair or villainous opposing spouse. Since the legal battle can be a long and grueling one, make sure that you contact an attorney who has your best interests in mind and will fight for you.
The third stage, bargaining, typically refers to when one spouse is trying to offer to change in order to avoid the separation. This is another normal response from the mind to try and gain control over a situation or decision that you have no control over. Bargaining does have a chance of helping save the marriage and can inspire real changes that could make both parties in the relationship happier than before.
At the very least, this stage can promote more honest outpourings of emotion and feelings that need to be vented before separation is complete. However, remaining steeped in this stage can create a toxic relationship or perpetuate bad behavior involved in one-sided relationships or other issues. It’s important to remember that no matter what, both parties are doing their best to try to make themselves and others happy.
Depression is the fourth stage of grief, and it can take some time to recognize it. Though painful, it can also offer time to reflect on the past and give insight into overcoming the challenge of divorce. In fact, sadness is essential for reaching the final stage of grief and beginning the healing process. This sadness is what lets us know when it is time to move on and pursue new things in our life. If you find yourself stuck within this stage of grief, you may find talking to a counselor or therapist can help.
The final stage of grief is acceptance, which is also the start of the real healing process. This is a stage in which you may acknowledge your own readiness to forge a new path. Many people find that this is the stage where they can move on to find happiness somewhere else rather than dwelling on the problems of the past. It is normal to feel grief from your divorce at different points in your life, even after this stage, but they are typically much easier to manage.
Why Emotional Divorce is Important
Emotional Divorce is its own separate stage in the divorce process that deals with the emotional un-bonding between spouses. If this stage happens before the physical and legal separation, it can make some of the steps and the legal battle much smoother for everyone involved. This establishes knowledge of why you want the divorce and how you will change for the future can make it easier on yourself mentally. Likewise, it can translate those feelings to any children involved as well.
If the separated ex-spouses are not emotionally disconnected leading up to or after divorce, it can have some serious and negative effects on their lives and on their families. Continuing to remain involved with one another through shared living, frequent visits, or combined holidays can make the emotional disconnection more difficult, or even cause a rise in negative emotions.
Contact the Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires Today
If you believe that divorce may be the right choice for you and your situation, consider contacting the Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires.