Divorce is generally a stressful and unsettling event. At minimum, a major relationship is ending, all sorts of routines are upset, and in the midst of the stress of transition there are legal hoops to jump through before things can be resolved. Add in the volatile emotions that are frequently associated with divorce and you have a difficult situation indeed. In this section, we will talk about practical ways that divorcing people can cope with and make the best of their stressful circumstances.
There are really two sides to the divorce process; the human emotional side and the formal legal side. Different coping strategies and skills are appropriate to address each of these aspects of divorce.
Divorce can trigger all sorts of unsettling, uncomfortable and frightening feelings, thoughts and emotions, including grief, loneliness, depression, despair, guilt, frustration, anxiety, anger, and devastation, to name a few. There is frequently sadness and grief at the thought of the end of a significant relationship. There
can be fear at the prospect of being single again, possibly for a long time (or even forever), and with having to cope with changed financial, living and social circumstances. There can be anger at a partner’s stubborn obstinacy and pettiness, abuse, or outright betrayal. There can be guilt over perceived failures to have made the relationship work. There can be overwhelming depression at the thought of the seeming impossibility of being able to cope with all the changes that are required. Any and all of these emotions are enough to make people miserable, and to find them wanting to cry at 3am in the morning.
Painful as they are, these sorts of emotions are generally natural grief-related reactions to a very difficult life-altering situation. Though there is no ‘cure’ for these feelings, there are some good and healthy ways to cope with them so as to suffer as little as possible, and to gain in wisdom, compassion and strength from having gone through the experience. The emotional coping process starts with allowing one’s self the freedom to grieve and ends with moving on with one’s life.
Allow grieving to occur, but it is most important to chose to move forward.
While grief can be immobilizing at first, after a while, most grieving people find that, little by little, they are ready to move on with their lives. For a time, they may find themselves moving on and grieving at the same time. Over time however, if everything goes well, the grieving process loses steam and more energy becomes available for moving on with life.