Getting a divorce is almost always a big deal – even if you’re escaping from a toxic relationship, you still have to cope with the stress of upending almost every aspect of your day-to-day life. And on top of that, there are legal hoops to jump through and financial hurdles to overcome. No matter what, divorce just isn’t easy.
So when you add on top of that the emotional pain and trauma from a major relationship ending, there’s a lot that goes into moving forward and rebuilding. Thankfully, there are some time-tested ways to help you get through the worst of it and look to your life ahead.
Handling the Emotional Side
Grieving is a natural part of dealing with loss, and regardless of the circumstances, divorce represents the loss of a major part of your life. Part of the grieving process involves a fairly predictable rotation of feelings – sadness, anger, numbness, vulnerability, denial. It’s important to know that grief itself isn’t an emotion, but a process, and that the first step to healing after an emotional trauma like divorce is to let that process take its course. Fighting grief, denying your feelings, and distracting yourself from facing reality only serves to delay and lengthen the grieving period.
Coping While Grieving
Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for us when something traumatic happens. The world keeps on spinning and people go about their daily lives. So as you begin to emerge from the most difficult moments of your divorce, it’s important to know what you can do to benefit yourself in the long run.
- Prioritize your responsibilities. Keeping the house clean, paying the bills, dropping the kids off and picking them up, showing up to work… all of these things can seem enormously unimportant and inconsequential when you’re dealing with a major trauma like divorce. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to be taken care of. Creating a to-do list and checking items off as you go can be a great way to help manage your responsibilities during this difficult time. And being ready to say no – responsibly – to demands on your time and energy that either aren’t important or you simply can’t meet can be a freeing experience that helps you avoid getting overwhelmed.
- Reclaim your space. Putting your spouse’s things away as soon as you are able can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel in your personal space. Storing or disposing of the big mementos and even the little things (their toothbrush, shampoo, pillow, etc.) can help you to feel safe and secure in your newfound individuality – and it also helps to avoid those unexpected waves of emotion when you spot something that reminds you of them.
- Talk it out. Taking advantage of therapy and group counseling through your insurance or employer can be a great way to get the support you need during a difficult time. Support groups may also be available through a local church, community center, etc.
- Take care of yourself. Developing a healthy routine and taking good care of yourself throughout this process is critical to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Starting an exercise routine and being active can have a huge positive impact on you, and provide you with a clear head to deal with whatever comes your way. You also want to avoid harmful habits, like abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in risky behavior like gambling or promiscuous sex to cope with your emotions.
- Explore old interests. Did you have a hobby or interest that fell by the wayside when your relationship took a bigger role in your life? Now’s the perfect time to rekindle those old passions or discover new ones.
Little by little, grief begins to subside and be replaced with acceptance and even normalcy. The emotional moments become less a part of your daily life, and are replaced by new experiences, moments of inspiration and clarity, and even rediscovering your own happiness.