Divorce and Grief during the Death of Your MN MarriageDec 28, 2022
This week I had the pleasure of talking to Brian Burns, a licensed therapist, to learn more about grief during your MN divorce. Throughout our conversation, we discussed the stages, and types of grief, how to cope with this challenging time, and the benefits of talk therapy. Although it isn’t an uplifting topic, discussing grief is essential as it is an emotion you’ll experience through a divorce.
The definition of grief is deep sorrow, primarily caused by someone’s death. Applied initially to terminal patients who were grieving the loss of their own life, it can impact many areas of life. Divorce is the death of your marriage, so it only makes sense that you will experience grief. Let’s dive into the five areas of grief, but first, I want to mention that it is not linear; it’s more of a circular model.
- Denial - a healthy way for the body to prepare itself to face difficult situations.
- Bargaining - what can I do to get out of this uncomfortable situation?
- Anger - this is not fair, right, or what I signed up for.
- Depression - Why me? Then, I guess I have to go through this.
- Acceptance - tolerate, manage, or shoulder the new reality and still have a meaningful, happy, purposeful life.
There are two types of grief - complicated and uncomplicated. Complicated grief is the loss of something unexpected. Examples of this are divorce and the sudden death of a child or loved one. Uncomplicated grief is the opposite; this would be when a grandparent in hospice passes away. Both are difficult to go through and process, but complicated grief is often more challenging.
Acceptance is the goal for working through a divorce. This doesn’t mean that what happened is ok, but it means that you can move past the situation and still find joy in your life. You transition the situation to a sense of opportunity. Although you can’t get away from the divorce and have to walk through it, you can come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.
So how do you cope with the emotions to get to a sense of acceptance? Ask yourself which direction you want your life to go. Take control in a way that leads you to more meaning as well as knowledge. And experience a life that’s just as happy as the life lost or taken from you. Take charge of finding out and deciding the following questions to create resilience:
- Who am I?
- What’s important to me?
- Who do I want to be ten years from now?
- If you are a parent, who am I as a parent?
It is understandable if you find yourself stuck and can’t move forward. This is a time to reflect on your feelings and sense them without judgment. Sort them out by what's real and what makes sense. Unravel the big mess of emotions. If you still cannot move towards acceptance, seek out talk therapy. Ask your physician, family, friends, or loved ones for recommendations, or check out virtual therapy.
The best thing you can do while facing or working through a divorce is to get curious about your emotions, ask for help and support, and take charge of your life.
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