Divorce is hard. It’s painful, it’s messy, and it’s heartbreaking.
There are plenty of articles out there telling you how to handle divorce, from exploring options, costs and how to get a divorce, to ways of letting go once it’s final and what to expect next. If you have children, you want to keep your divorce family-friendly. You may need to learn more about child support and how it is determined, or about some typical approaches to visitation. Being prepared helps. You can’t do too much research.
But having the knowledge you need doesn’t mean divorce won’t hurt. It will. Ending a marriage isn’t easy; it may be one of the toughest decisions you make in your lifetime. The loss of a loved one to death is the only thing that tops divorce on life’s difficulty list. And any major loss causes grief. The emotional cycles you will go through with divorce are similar to when someone close to you has died.
Divorce is generally divided into three main aspects, legal, financial, and emotional. Seek professional help to tackle the legal portion, so that you can make wise decisions as you navigate the complex divorce process. Get organized and dig in deep to sort out the finances. Determine how you will split up assets and debts, provide support for your children and possibly an ex-spouse. Then brace for the emotional toll divorce can take. It will happen, and it’s normal.
Dealing with the loss of a marriage can cause situational depression, and most people going through a divorce will experience it as they grieve. Learning to cope is the best way to get through this painful time. In an eHow article, “How to Deal With Depression After a Divorce,” the first suggestion is: “Be aware of what the signs of depression are. They include irritability, physical and mental fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, loss of appetite, either sleeping too much or not being able to sleep at all, problems with being able to concentrate properly, guilt, negativity, body aches, and losing interest in things that you normally enjoy. If you are exhibiting four or more of these symptoms, the likelihood is that you are suffering from depression.”
- feeling sad is normal and expressing your emotions can be cathartic.
- it’s okay to ask for help; this is the time to reach out to others rather than isolate yourself.
- it’s worth considering joining a support group; sometimes it’s easier to open up to those who have experienced the same things.
- it takes times to adjust, recovery isn’t instant and the process will be different for everyone.
- if your depression is extreme – using drugs/alcohol or thoughts of suicide – call for help.
In an article from PsychCentral, “How To Deal With Depression After Divorce: 5 Actionable Tips,” originally written for YourTango by Dr. Karen Finn, she suggests that you write a goodbye letter. “…Sit down with a pen and paper and write a letter of goodbye to everything and everyone that isn’t the same now that you’re divorcing. Some of the things you might want to say goodbye to are your role as spouse, the traditions you had of celebrating birthdays and holidays, and seeing your kids every day. Some of the people you may want to say goodbye to include your ex, your in-laws and your friends who aren’t able to stand by your side during your major life transition.”
Divorce and stress are symbiotic; it’s hard to experience one (divorce) without the other (stress). An article for beliefnet.com, “12 Depression Busters for Divorce,” offers suggestions for battling stress and finding emotional peace after divorce.
“Acute and chronic stress undermine both emotional and physical health. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, suggests that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer than married people.”
Divorce means change. Learning to accept those changes can go a long way in your recovery and achieving a healthy life on your own. It’s unhealthy to cling to the past; doing so will only cloud your ability to look to the future. Of course it hurts, but at some point you need to let go and move on.
Divorce isn’t easy, but it is something you can survive. You may even grow from the experience and flourish in your new life, discovering that you’re a stronger, better person for having gone through it.