Divorce represents the loss of a relationship and the hopes and dreams of a future together. When one experiences loss, life as it was is changed forever. While recognizing and dealing with feelings of grief and loss can be difficult and painful, experts suggest that the best way to move forward is to move through it. Researcher, Alan Wolfelt said, “We must journey all through it, sometimes meandering the side roads, sometimes plowing directly into its raw center.”
There is an important distinction between grieving and mourning. While grieving is what you feel on the inside, mourning is what you express outward to others. Dealing with the loss experienced from divorce involves outwardly mourning through your grief. How this happens is likely to be different for the two adults involved in the divorce. While circumstances differ greatly, research shows that those who initiate the divorce may feel more relief than grief. Adult are more likely to feel grief when they are surprised by the divorce or have a desire to work through problems and keep the marriage together.
Children’s responses vary greatly depending on gender, age, and how family members interacted with one another before and after the divorce. So, where do you start? Confront the reality that the relationship is over and focus on rebuilding your life and maintaining relationships with children. It is normal for both parents and children to relive good and bad memories. Children may talk about memories that are difficult for you, or at a bad time. Step back, take a deep breath, and remember that children are part of the future. Children need their parents to find other adults to support them so they are able to be there for their children.
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Shelly D. Mahon, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Human Development and Family Studies. Ms Mahon is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2009/2010 Shelly D. Mahon
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- Divorce and Co-Parenting in a World of “He Says, She Says” (psychologytoday.com)
- Shadowed Grief – Hidden but No Less Painful (health-psychology.suite101.com)
- What’s Normal Post-Divorce Grief? (psychologytoday.com)