Divorce and the loss of a relationship can be a stressful, emotional and even frightening time. Whatever the cause of the divorce, one may experience feelings of sadness, regret, guilt and even shame. During this time it is important to address your emotional concerns and to develop the skills and self-love needed to move forward and heal.
Divorce can be a challenging and stressful time of reestablishing your identity, adapting to new relationships, as well as facing the challenges of childcare, family relationships and dating. Grief and sadness can compound these stressors which may hinder the healing process. People who divorce may be prone to depression, anxiety, insomnia and loneliness. An awareness of the symptoms can help you to seek help when you need it and also facilitate moving on.
There are several important steps to take in moving forward:
– Redefining your relationship with your ex-spouse: Will you be friends? Co-parents? No longer a part of each others life? Coming to an agreement on what your relationship will look like and then setting the parameters for this relationship is an essential part of the transition.
-Learning about the reasons why the divorce happened: It’s important to fully understand your experience in this relationship and why ultimately it could not continue. Becoming aware of these reasons will then allow you to shape your needs in your next relationship.
– Forgiveness: Accepting the pain that occurred in the relationship by understanding it and then vowing to no longer let it hurt you. This can take some time. But eventually you need to forgive both yourself and your ex-spouse for the problems that occurred in order for you to fully move on without the weight of past pain.
– Processing your emotions: It’s essential to feel the emotions you have over the loss of your relationship. Addressing your fears and regrets can help you to understand how you are feeling and what to do to move forward. Patience and acceptance of your grief and emotions is essential, and know that the healing process will take time. Talking to others who have experienced a divorce or to a trained therapist can help you to make better sense of the multitude of emotional reactions you may be having.
– Deciding what’s next: Rebuilding your life and reestablishing your identity after a relationship can be difficult and emotional, however you may be left feeling empowered, independent and resilient. You now have the opportunity to redefine the path you will take next. Spend some time learning about your own personal values and the things that are most valuable to you in life and make the changes you have always wanted to see.
For help with dealing with divorce, I recommend seeking support through your social groups and families. Seeking counselling may also assist you with working through this difficult time, as well as reorganizing your life. The following article may also be useful on coping with divorce.
Article Written By: Stacie Courtney-Mustaphi, Bac. Soc.Sci, MA Candidate, under the direct supervision of Cassandra Petrella, MA, Registered Psychotherapist