10 Ways to cope with the grief of divorce.
Nov 07, 2021
When I was going through my divorce no one explained to me that I was grieving. I’d always thought that grief was associated with the death of someone. If I’d understood that I was grieving, then I think I would have been so much kinder to myself, instead of beating myself for not being able to move on.
It doesn’t matter whether you ended the marriage or not, you will still go through the grief process to some extent. You’re grieving the loss of your marriage, your family unit and all the dreams you had of your future together. The grief can be overwhelming and all-consuming and there’s no set time to go through it. Everyone is different and will go through it at their own pace.
Here are 10 ways to help you cope with the grief of your divorce:
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions – It can be really tempting to try and distract yourself from your feelings as they’re just too overwhelming. You might be tempted to work long hours, be out partying every night, consoling yourself with one-night stands or self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. However, all of these will only help momentarily and aren’t a long-term solution. Eventually your emotions will catch up with you. It’s ok to cry – it’s part of the healing process – and it’s ok to feel like you can’t face the world and want to stay in bed all day. You’ll experience a roller coaster of emotions as part of your healing – such as anger, heartbreak, denial, despair and shock – and that’s ok.
- Get your support team in place – It’s key that you get this in place as soon as possible. It’s essential that you surround yourself with trusted friends and family but not necessarily your nearest and dearest. Even though their heart will be in the right place, they’re sometime too close to the situation to be able to give you the best advice. You need people that will listen to you without judgement and without telling you what you should do all the time. You should also think about getting the professionals in place to help you through this process such as a solicitor, financial adviser and a divorce coach.
- Stop retelling your story – this just keeps you stuck and reconnects you with all the negative emotions every time you go there. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s happening now and what’s in the past, so it thinks you’re going through the trauma all over again. Practice putting your boundaries in place and give your friends or family a brief update, but then tell them you’d rather talk about something else.
- Exercise and move your body – this is so powerful for shifting all the negative emotions you may be experiencing. Exercise releases all the endorphins that make you feel good. It played a massive part for me after my divorce in helping me to cope with all my emotions. Choose something you love doing as you’re more likely to stick to it and having an exercise buddy means you’re more likely to turn up for it. Just turning the radio on and dancing in the kitchen, doing 20 star jumps or going for a walk, in nature, can all shift your mood.
- Don’t jump into a rebound relationship – although this may be really tempting, it’s not a good idea. You need to process your grief and move through that process before you even consider a new relationship. Take the time to heal properly and be ok with being on your own. Understand what you want and need from a future relationship and learn from your previous relationship so that you don’t repeat the same patterns.
- Practice self-care - every single day. Self-care needs to be a priority during this stressful and traumatic time. As well as exercising, make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep and allowing yourself time to just rest rather than filling all your time as a distraction.
- Make a list of everything that brings you joy – and try to plan those things into your diary regularly. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you feel good about yourself. Emotions are contagious so choose carefully who you spend your time with. Watch your favourite comedy that always makes you laugh out loud.
- Practice gratitude every day – I know that it might not feel like you have much to be grateful for, in the midst of your grief, but there is always something, no matter how small. Really connect with why you feel grateful as well as this makes it even more powerful.
- Journal – Writing about your feelings is a great way to process them and gain clarity. Write free form and just let all the words and feelings come out. Don’t worry about grammar, no one else is going to read it. Write until you’ve got everything out.
- Gain clarity on your future – trying to get some clarity for your life going forward can help to take away the overwhelm that you may be feeling. Your world has potentially been turned upside down so it’s about trying to work out want you want in your new future. Think about what you love doing, what brings you joy and where you love to be. What couldn’t you do when you were married that you could do now and what did you compromise on? By getting clarity on your future, it allows you to start getting excited about it and to start letting go of the past.
Divorce is the second most traumatic event you can go through in your lifetime so it’s not surprising that it can take a long time to get over it. But it is possible to get over it and to live a future where you feel happier and stronger than ever before. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to go through the grieving process and let it take as long as it takes.