Spring is in the air! This time of year I always feel a strong sense of gratitude for the people in my life that truly love and support me throughout the year-friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. These days, I hardly ever feel that I am on life’s journey alone and I am truly grateful for […]
Spring is in the air!
This time of year I always feel a strong sense of gratitude for the people in my life that truly love and support me throughout the year-friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. These days, I hardly ever feel that I am on life’s journey alone and I am truly grateful for that.
However, there was a time not-so-long-ago that I felt alone, confused, overwhelmed and hurt after my marriage abruptly came to an end. I remember being in a state of disbelief – feeling completely detached from everything and everyone around me. I was watching my life unravel right before my eyes and I felt completely helpless to do anything to about it.
It was a while before I realized that I needed to give myself permission to grieve the loss of my relationship. Typically, the term “grief” refers to the death of a loved one, but I believe that the ending of a relationship (particularly a marriage) is also a death. In my experience, if we do not allow ourselves time and space to grieve appropriately, we cannot fully heal.
I realize that each of us is different, but for most people, grieving follows a pattern. When we grieve the death of a relationship, we typically go through stages or phases. Knowing the signs or characteristics that make up the basic elements of the grief process may help you to identify your own pattern and determine where you are in the process.
Here are 4 signs that you may be experiencing post-divorce grief:
Sign #1: Shock
A period of shock, numbness, and denial often follows the death of a relationship. You may feel stunned or in a trance-like nothing seems real. It can last only minutes, but for most of us this period will persist for days, weeks, or longer. This state of shock allows you to absorb what has happened in your life so that you can begin to adjust. During this time, there is a tendency to leave decision-making to others. However, it is important to face the reality of your situation and regain control over the direction of your life.
Sign #2: Emotional Upheaval
As the shock wears off, a variety of emotions begin to surface (anger, fear, rage, embarrassment, shame, guilt). Feelings are neither right or wrong, good or bad; they are simply feelings. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling. Sometimes a counselor can help us identify, interpret, process, and manage these feelings. As we begin to understand what we are experiencing, we can find appropriate ways to ventilate our emotions and channel them to our advantage.
Sign #3: Physical Distress
The mental and emotional upset of a divorce can cause physical distress and make us vulnerable to illness because our immune system is compromised. Sometimes grief causes us to neglect proper rest, good nutrition, and exercise. We may also attempt to ease our pain with the use of alcohol or medication. Trying to ease the pain will only prolong the grief process. It may become necessary to consult with a doctor about symptoms, causes, and proper treatment.
Sign #4: Panic
The death of a marriage can make our future seem uncertain. Facing the unknown and the fear of being alone may cause us to experience panic. Panic prevents concentration and delays acceptance of the new reality. It tempts us to run from life, to avoid others, and to isolate. Patience with ourselves and a willingness to accept help from others will enable us to gain control over this panic and the resulting confusion.
Remember that no matter where you are in the process, it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself on your journey to total healing and wholeness. I’d love to hear about how you plan to love and support yourself during your grief process. Feel free to comment below.
Cheers to a Brighter Future,