How To Work Through The Grieving Process Of A Divorce

Realizing that your marriage has come to an end is one of the most challenging things a couple can experience. Everyone who signs up for marriage goes in thinking that this is their person — the one that stood out amongst all the rest — and they want to be with them forever. There's a reason why the line "until death do us part" is in marriage ceremonies. Still, things happen, people grow apart, and sometimes, as much as no one wants to admit it, love dies. Naturally, that death needs to be mourned.

"Divorce is a different kind of a loss than a death, and in some ways more difficult," psychologist and psychotherapist Dr. Lavanya Shankar tells Fatherly. "Your ex is still out there. You may ask yourself, What could I have done differently? It's hard to grapple with. It's the loss of your whole idea of yourself, what your future was going to be like. And it's the breaking up of your family unit and the guilt associated with that. There are a lot of layers with divorce."

The complications of having your lives so intertwined, and legally so, can take an emotional toll on a couple in ways that a breakup doesn't. But, as much as divorce is so heartbreaking, the good thing is that divorce rates are on the decline, so marriages have a higher chance of success these days than in the Baby Boomer generation (via Sage Journals). Of course, when you're in the midst of a divorce, these facts don't matter. But what does matter is that you work through the grieving process as healthily as you can.

Identity the grief

Although grief follows any loss, there are different types of grief that come with the grieving process (via research published in StatPearls). These types of grief are combined with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, per PsychCentral. While some people believe that in order to grieve properly, every stage must be felt in the same order, that's not the case. Everyone grieves differently, so not everyone who goes through a divorce will experience grief in the same way. In fact, some people may jump from denial to acceptance, while others may never reach acceptance.

There's no timeline to how long or how short a period someone will grieve. But being aware of what type of grief you're experiencing will help you navigate your feelings. For example, if you recognize that you're suffering from complicated grief, then it may be time to reach out to a professional and try not to go it alone.

Allow yourself to feel all your feelings

It can never be stated enough just how paramount it is to feel every feeling that comes your way while grieving your divorce. If you're angry, allow yourself to feel that. If you're heartbroken, allow yourself to feel that too. If you feel betrayed, also give yourself space to feel that. Grieving a loss is part of the human condition and must be felt to move forward. You can't rush it or compare your timeline to those of other people you know who have gone through a divorce.

"Our healing time will depend on the meaning the relationship held, as well as the length of the relationship," professional counselor Habiba Jessica Zaman tells Self. During this time of grief, it's also important to not forget who you are and remember your worth. Be kind to yourself, surround yourself with people who lift you up, practice self-care, and try to get involved in the activities you love (via TalkSpace). It won't be easy, but you need to keep your mind and body moving so you don't succumb to one feeling and avoid taking steps toward the next chapter in your life.