Divorce: It entails loss, even if you wanted it. Aside from the ending of the relationship with your spouse, you may be losing your home, time with your children, in-laws, extended family, and even friends. There are inevitable financial losses, loneliness, a change of lifestyle, imagined losses of what might have been, and of memories of what once was. It may involve a move to a different city, a change of jobs or schools, or a homemaker entering the work force for the first time.
Divorce is harder on the spouse who is less prepared or feels “left.” It can shatter your self-esteem, particularly if it was unexpected, or if your spouse left because he or she loves someone else. Not usually talked about is the loss of identity that occurs – as a wife, a husband, and possibly as a father or mother. To successfully move on, each loss must be mourned. Much of the grief work can precede the physical and legal divorce and smooth the way. It can be useful to recognize Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not mentioned is fear, which is a predominant emotion in times of transition. All change is stressful. Facing the unknown provokes anxiety. So many important elements of one’s life are in transition all at once, and that the stress is enormous.