Dr. Irit Goldman
Grieving the loss of a relationship? Divorce?
The end of a meaningful relationship and/or divorce can cause pain, confusion, depression and often time physical changes. Divorce/separation can cause much stress.
Everyone reacts differently to the death of a relationship. There are some common stages that people go through, although, they may not be in order. Those stages are very similar to those experiencing the death of a loved one. With any kind of grief, it is very common and very normal to move back and forth between stages. At times, it may seem very difficult. But you always want to keep in mind, that at the end of the road, there is hope and healing.
Emotional stages The stages are: Denial – you can’t believe it is happening to you! You refuse to accept the end of the relationship.
Shock – Feeling of panic, despair (over the end of the relationship). At times it may seem impossible to cope with these feelings and you may wonder how you will survive. Will you ever love again? Will the pain ever end?
Rollercoaster – You can’t stop moving back and forth from hope to despair. During this stage, you will try to understand and put meaning to what has happened. You think that if you only understand what happened, the pain will disappear and it will all make sense. You will wonder if you could do things differently you will think that you can’t control your thoughts. Depression in this stage is very common. You may cry a lot.
Bargaining – You may still hold hope that the relationship will survive. You will be willing to change everything about you and do everything differently if only your spouse will come back. However, it is very important that you remember that you can’t control the actions and desires of another person.
Letting go – At this point you will realize that the marriage/relationship is over. There is nothing you could have done to change this outcome. You will be more forgiving of your spouse faults and willing to take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the relationship. Now you will begin to have a sense of freedom, relief and hope for the future.
Acceptance – Your obsessive thinking stops. The need to heal the relationship is over and you begin to have the sense that you can lead fulfilling life. You will look a head to the future, no longer the past. You will be open to new opportunities and discover that there is life after death/divorce/breakup. The future now looks brighter.
Tips for coping during time of grief: 1.Keep yourself physically fit. Physical activity helps produce neurotransmitters in the brain that regulates mood.
2.Give yourself permission to feel. Whether your feelings are negative or positive – this is where you are. Embrace it. What we do with our emotions greatly effect the quality of our life experience. Don’t assume revenge or the victim role. If you feel angry, find someone safe to vent your feelings to.
3.Don’t make hasty decisions. When you are so stressed, any decisions to take actions and/or change should not be made because the consequences may be devastating.
4.Do things that will nurture you physically and emotionally – Take on a hobby, read a good book, take a bubble bath, get a message, eat healthy, surround yourself with positive people that love and support you.
5.Change your expectations – Remember that no one has control over feelings and actions of another person. It is tempting to think that you had control, but you really didn’t. Let go of trying to control how your spouse feels or what actions s/he will take. Learn to accept whatever the outcome will be.
6.Be sure to have fun – Remember to love, laugh and play. Schedule activities that bring you pleasure. Maintain your circle of close friends and socialize. Do not isolate yourself.
7.Make sure to pay attention to your emotional needs – Find someone to talk to — a good friend or a therapist. A little talk therapy can go a long way when you feel emotionally overwhelmed.