Divorce is a time for significant change/ loss in a parent and their child(ren). It marks the end of a marriage, which could also mean the loss of one’s home, financial stability, and social circles. Not only does divorce significantly impact the adults involved, but the children are also undergoing a major loss. This might mean that children have to change schools, move homes, and suffer their family structure breaking apart. If we want to promote the well-being of adults and children that divorce impacts, we need to understand the divorce process, stages of grief, and what to expect moving forward.
Many people will start to have feelings of confusion and despair. Take comfort in knowing that these emotions are completely normal and will start to subside after time.
What to Expect
Separation- This is typically a period of very high emotion. You might feel like you have no control over your emotions and wonder how you are going to face the next issue that arises.
What to do During the Separation
Communication– Communicating in a productive way is key to having a smooth separation process.
Next Steps– Figure out the next steps that you and your spouse will take if you are divorcing.
Kids Feelings– Make sure that you are prioritizing your kid’s feelings during this process.
Inform Children– You should keep your children in the loop but do not tell them everything. They do not need to know why you divorced.
Emotional Support– Provide a lot of emotional support to your children and let them know that you are there for them.
What Not to do During the Separation
No Major Decisions– Do not make any major decisions during this time period. This is a period of high emotion that is paired with poor judgment and irrational thinking.
Do Not Use Legal System to Hash out Anger– You should not be using the legal system as a means to hash out your anger or get back at the other parent.
Do Not Withhold Anything– You should not withhold your kids or money as a means to manipulate the other parent.
Do Not Use Children– You should not be using your children to relay information to the other parent. Do not use children to get back at the other parent. Your children are not the middlemen.
Do Not Interrogate Children– Do not ask your children questions about the other parent. This will make your child feel like they are ‘spying’ on the other parent.
Do Not Use Children as Emotional Support– Your children are not your friends. You should never lean on your children for emotional support.
Do Not Criticize the Other Parent– Never talk badly about the other parent in front of your children.
Mourning Process After a Divorce
The process of mourning and grief also applies to divorce. Divorce is a loss because the family and marital relationship have essentially died. You must go through the mourning process after a divorce. These stages will come and go and waves.
Shock and Denial– There is a period of shock and denial following the breakup. People might deny that this is really happening. The recipient might try to save the relationship by begging the other person.
Anger– If you can no longer deny what is happening. This rage is a response to your loss. You might feel powerless because there is nothing you can do to stop what is happening.
Bargaining– You might start to consider how things might be okay after the divorce. This stage might be paired with regretful feelings.
Sad– You might feel sad after you are done bargaining and being angry. You are now experiencing the loss of the relationship.
Acceptance– You realize that nothing is going to change. You start to accept what has happened. You accept responsibility. You move forward and make peace with the other person.
Getting Through Divorce
Take care of yourself emotionally and physically. Get proper nutrition. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Take up a new hobby.
Give yourself permission to grieve. It is common to feel many emotions during a divorce. Do not let your feelings overwhelm you. Allow yourself time to process your emotions.
Start a new hobby. Put some of your energy into learning a new hobby. Write in a journey. Start a new creative outlet. Exercise. Take walks.
Seek social support from friends and family members.
Focus on moving forward- Try to make positive future decisions. Be there for your children.
If needed, use a psychologist or professional to help you work through your divorce process.
Changes After Divorce
Change in identity- You are now single.
Change in Finances
Changes in family structure
Changes in social circles/relationships
Change involving moving, going to a different school, parental remarriage
Change in responsibilities
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