Ending a marriage does not only leave you with legal technicalities but also with emotional pain and grief that you have to work through.
Below we explore the 5 Stages Of Grief as first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. In our bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity. Contrary to popular belief, the 5 Stages Of Grief do not necessarily occur in any specific order.
Emotions are can at the best of times be extremely overwhelming, so we may isolate. We may be unable to acknowledge the loss or end of our relationship. This is temporary. It helps us deal with the first wave of pain. I remember feeling numb for weeks. I had to function for my child, but I felt hollow and out-of-body.
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control through a series of “If only” statements. The truth is things happen. In a relationship, as in life, you can only control you. Ultimately, this is the right thing for everyone. It’s not my fault, it’s not his fault—it just is.
Although experts call this phase depression, real depression is a long-term mental health issue. I prefer to call this stage sadness or mourning. The grief I’m experiencing as a result of the divorce is not a depressive episode.
Not everyone makes it to acceptance. You may get stuck in denial or anger. In my case, for my future happiness, and for my child, I will get there. I have no deadline; we were together for 9 years. Grieving is a unique process; no one does it the same way, and there is no time limit.
We spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity.
As I go through this divorce, I can safely say, I’m in the sadness and depression stage of grief and loss. The weight of crippling emotional pain has been lurking, invading my dreams, and now seems to be rooted in my daily being.
Resisting will only make the healing process last longer. I still have a lot more crying to do and a lot more anger to get out. Once in the acceptance phase, I expect to feel calm and at peace, and able to move on. I’m not there yet, but I will get there, when I’m ready, and I will be better than OK. I will be happy.