Over the years I have encountered numerous myths and misconceptions about divorce-related grief, the most common of which is the notion that it is linear, logical and finite. We expect grief to peak immediately after separation, then slowly subside until, perhaps a few months later, we are mostly pain-free. If only that were true!
Separation and divorce shakes our snow globe, causing its vulnerable particles to erratically float around with no end in sight. So it's no wonder that any human being would want those particles to settle quickly, in an orderly, predictable way.
Unmet grief expectations are frequently construed as failure. We don't feel the way we think we should, so we conclude that we are not "doing it right." This adds unnecessary suffering to pain.
We can create a more accepting relationship with ourselves and our grief when we understand its true nature. To that end, I have created the following list of often-experienced-but-rarely-discussed, long-term emotional truths about divorce:
If you’re still reading this, I imagine you may wondering what can be done to help mitigate the pain of these truths.
One of the most important things we can do, post-divorce, is clarify our values (e.g., family, commitment to service, personal accountability, kindness toward others, etc.) and commit to living those values.
This sounds simple. But it is not always easy. Furthermore, habits of intentional living take time--sometimes years--to develop. Now is the time to be kind and patient with yourself.
Keep in mind that few roads are perfectly smooth or straight. If you find yourself straying from your values, recommit to them. Repeat this process as many times as needed.
Finally, keep in mind that the presence of difficult emotion does not signify the absence of coping. All emotions, even the unpleasant ones, signify our humanity. Feelings are a normal, natural part of any living finish.
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, therapist, and counselor. She offers grief therapy, divorce consultation, co-parenting support, and other counseling services in the Phinney Greenwood area of Seattle, WA. If you would like help coping with the long-term emotional impact of divorce, follow the link below to schedule a free consultation.
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, grief counselor, and dating coach. Her coaching and therapy practice is located in the Phinney - Greenwood area of North Seattle in Washington.