Divorce freaking HURTS, but you can get through it.
It’s not surprising that divorce hurts, or that part of the healing involves grieving. But knowing this intellectually does nothing to prepare you for the pain or the way your grief attacks you out of the blue.
Your grief will change you — but if you allow yourself to feel and work through it, your anguish will change you for the better. However, if you ignore or stuff your sorrow, it will fester and change you for the worse.
When your loss is recent and raw, you’re more susceptible to being unexpectedly overcome by tidal waves of hurt, regardless of whether or not you’ve been working through your pain. But the waves of anguish aren’t confined to when your divorce wound is new. They can hit any time and you don’t have a choice about when or where these grief attacks happen.
So what do you do when your grief ambushes you at an inopportune moment or place?
1. Accept what’s happening and be kind to yourself.
There’s no rule book or time frame for grief, so you certainly don’t need to judge yourself for what your soul needs to express.
You’ve probably already sobbed so much that you can’t believe you have any more tears to shed, but when your heart aches so much you can feel it in your bones, the tears will continue to come. Your tears are cleansing and by expressing your sorrow you lessen it. The more you allow the grief to flow through you, the less of a hold has on you.
2. If at all possible, find some privacy.
But don’t apologize. It’s OK to admit you’re not OK, but there’s no reason to feel even worse than you do by believing you need to apologize because you’re upsetting others.
3. Take all the time you need.
The truth is you can’t be strong all of the time when you’re dealing with loss on the scale that you are. Sometimes you just need to be alone and let your tears out.
4. Understand that not everyone is going to get it.
People who’ve never experienced the grief of divorce will never get that you lost not only your spouse or your marriage, you’ve lost your life — the way it was, and the way you thought your future was going to be. Your life will never, ever be the same, and that’s absolutely heart breaking, and it’s a lot to say goodbye to.
Unless someone has had a similar loss, they’ll never really understand, so it’s up to you to ignore their personal judgments and ignorance instead of using it to further torture yourself.
5. Carry on as best you can once the storm has subsided.
Of course people will ask how you’re doing once you return. One of the kindest (to you and to them) ways you can respond is to thank them for their concern, and let them know that your bad days aren’t a sign of weakness — they’re actually the days you’re fighting your hardest to work through your grief.
"Sometimes, carrying on — just carrying on — is the super human achievement.," said Albert Camus.
Having a game plan for what to do when your divorce grief attacks will help you to weather the onslaught a bit easier, but it won’t prevent the attacks. The only way to prevent them is to experience your emotions. You can’t ignore the pain and heartache away, so you need to feel it and then get into action to make your new now and future better than they seem right now.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and divorce survivor herself. She works with clients to overcome the pain and stress of divorce so they can discover self-love and happiness again, just like she did. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or email her at Karen@functionaldivorce.com for a free consultation.
This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.