It is estimated that approximately 40-50 percent of American couples married for the first time will end in divorce. Second and third marriages have an even higher rate of divorce.
Whatever the reasons for the split, the dissolution of a marriage is a very traumatic and painful experience. It has been compared to the stages of death because of the profound sense of loss. It not only affects the divorcing couple, but also the children, family, friends, business associates, and supporting community.
The healing process following a divorce – no matter how amicable – takes an emotional toll. Not only are couples left feeling heartbroken, but they are also moving into uncharted territory and uncertainty about the future.
Recovering from divorce is hard; however, you will heal and recover. Here are some suggestions that may help you get through this difficult time:
Allow yourself to grieve.
It’s important to understand that grieving through a divorce is not a linear process. You will go through many stages of feelings including shock, anger, denial, guilt, shame, and acceptance that will seem chaotic and frenzied, and in no particular order. These feelings will change from day-to-day, and sometimes even moment-to-moment. And, it’s okay to feel all of these emotions.
Cut yourself some slack.
Keep in mind that you are recovering from a serious loss. Don’t worry if you’re not functioning at your usual optimum. Ideally, your supervisor and/or committee chairs will understand if you are not quite as productive during this time. If not, take some time off and allow yourself to heal and regroup.
Talk about how you’re feeling.
Isolating yourself can do more harm than good, so share your feelings with trusted family members or friends. There are a number of divorce support recovery groups within communities or through churches that can help you through this tough time. You may also want to consider getting outside help and talking to a mental health professional.
Make a plan.
Nothing is more empowering than making a plan for your future. In order to move forward and keep that momentum going, having a blueprint can help guide you in a positive direction. Some of those plans may involve co-parenting or a collaborative divorce. Other plans may include exploring new interests and activities.
Change will not happen overnight, but rather in little increments one day at a time. If you still find that you are spiraling downward, you may be experiencing depression. In this event, you should talk to your family doctor and/or therapist.
If this is a contentious divorce, you should seek the outside help of a divorce mediator such as Dr. Susan K. Daniel, who is member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida. She is able to provide specialized conflict resolutions for couples and families going through the emotional process of a divorce.