Divorce: The 5 Stages of Grief
Updated: Jul 27
Grief is defined as deep sorry, especially over a loss. Whether you decided to file for divorce, or you are the spouse who was served divorce papers, grief is a topic often forgotten in most divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, it is part of the process, if even on a personal level. Understanding the stages of grief in divorce may assist you in understanding your feelings or the reactions of others, knowing that they are completely normal regardless of circumstances, and help you along on your journey to healing.
There are five stages of grief. There is no time table on how long each stage lasts and it will be different for everyone. You may not even notice certain stages as you may breeze right through them. Understanding the progression is important so that if you ever start to be affected by them you can make wise decisions. Understanding the five stages of grief in divorce can also help you determine how much closer you are to the finish line.
This can look like a few things: pretending it isn't happening, avoiding the situation all together, or acting as if everything is completely fine. Denial can lead to delusional thinking and may create new issues. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse is in denial about your divorce it can be challenging. If you are the one in denial, you may be having a hard time understanding why the divorce ir happening or even accepting that it is your reality.
In this stage of divorce you have accepted the fact that there is no turning back. You may be furious that your soon-to-be ex-spouse has put you in this position and upended the life you've come to know. This is typically the time where divorcees may become volatile with each other. If your ex-spouse has become aggressive or nasty towards you, document the incidents. Keep your divorce attorney up to date on what is happening in the event the situation becomes dangerous and you need further legal or law enforcement protection.
"I will do whatever it takes" is a common phrase heard from soon-to-be ex-spouse. While this may be a turning point in some marriages, it is usually nothing more than a bargaining plea from the party who hasn't yet accepted that the marriage is over. This may also include sending gifts, flowers, or offering extravagant ideas of how life will improve if the marriage stays intact. It's important to look at the patterns of your relationship to determine if you've seen this before. Perhaps, your soon-to-be ex-spouse really has been blindsided by the divorce and is willing to work hard on repairing the marriage. Or maybe you have made offers in the past, but never followed through. If this is a common theme throughout your relationship, the ending probably won't change. Don't fall for the bargaining trap.
Depression and grief are sometime synonymous, though they are different. Depression can range from feelings of sadness to clinical mental illness that needs attention from a physician. It is normal to feel sad at the loss of a marriage. However, if the depression is hindering your daily life, meeting with a mental health professional can help you get through to the other side.
The final stage of grief in divorce is when both parties finally accept that fact that the marriage is irrevocably broken. At this stage, the divorce may be finalized and both parties are moving on with their lives. Acceptance doesn't happen quickly or easily for everyone, and one party may reach this phase much sooner than the other. Taking things day by day can help and finding a support system to help you manage the grief in divorce process can be beneficial. Once the divorce is accepted, parties can focus fully on their individual futures.
Max Factor is a divorce attorney in Tallahassee, Florida. With over 25 years of family law experience, he has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of divorce. Max understands how this season of your life may be detrimental to your mental health and can help you find resources so that you may find peace through the process. Contact Max today to schedule a consultation and trust that you will have a true advocate on your side.