Divorce is a traumatic experience, even more so if you are not the one who initiated the procedure.
Nobody enters into a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce. It is normal that when the divorce is finally over and official, a grieving period will follow.
Much like the grief, we feel when a loved one dies, the stages of grief post-divorce can be broken down into distinct phases of grief.
What is grief & its types?
So, what is grief?
Grief stands for intense sorrow, mental distress, or a feeling of anguish caused by death or parting from someone.
There are different types of grief, as mentioned below:
Anticipatory grief occurs with the real losses of something or someone you love, chronic illness, etc. It is usually related to health and functionality.
Normal grief means reactions to any situation or loss. These behavioral or cognitive reactions are common for all human beings.
Complicated grief often refers to the kind of grief that lasts for a longer period of time. These can also be called masked grief or chronic grief, where the victim might show self-destructive behaviors.
Where did the stages of grief come from?
The stages of grief were introduced in 1969 by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, in her book titled On Death and Dying. She witnesses thousands of terminally ill patients before coming to the conclusion of the psychology of grief.
There are various theories about the stages of grief in order which vary in number. While some have two, others have seven, but Elizabeth Kübler-Ross discusses five stages and this is also known as the Kübler-Ross model.
Does grief always follow the same order of stages?
In which order do these stages occur? It is important to recognize that the steps of grieving are not linear.
You cannot expect to be neatly finished with one and proceed straight on to the next.
This is why we might refer to the stages of grief in relationships as more like cycles of grief, with no tidy beginning nor identifiable end to each cycle.
Additionally, you can expect to have days where you feel like you are truly getting some traction in moving forward in your stages of grief, only to wake up one morning finding yourself moving two steps backward.
Again, this is completely normal. Phases of grief may be triggered by a song, an article or book you are reading, running into some common friends, or on significant dates such as your anniversary or a birthday.
This is why it is important to take good care of yourself when moving through the stages of grief after divorce and to tell yourself that whatever you are feeling, and wherever you are in your grief cycle, everything is ok.
You will survive this.
What are the 5 stages of grief?
Grief is inevitable and a necessary evil. Just as happiness is a part of life, so is the sadness that keeps the balance of life right. When one encounters grief, it takes time to go away.
The reason is that there are stages of grief a human goes through before completely moving on. The stages of grief and loss apply to most relationship cases.
As aforementioned, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote five stages of grief in a relationship that apply to most people experienced by terminally ill patients before death.
All other grieving processes are based on the Kubler-Ross model. The 5 stages of grief are:
Explaining the 5 stages of grief
For that, it is important for you to know and understand what you will be going through, and this article can help you do that by throwing some light on the different stages of grief during and after divorce.
Here are 5 grieving process steps:
Stage One: Denial
You probably experienced this stage when you were going through the divorce.
You understand and have integrated your new reality as a divorced person.
You feel a connection with the millions of other divorced people who have walked these steps of grieving before you.
You begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and may even be a little bit excited by this new chapter in your life.
You accept that things look different now, and you are ready to embrace this new identity.
Knowing and accepting that you will deny the trauma, have to deal with the pain, have tomanage your anger, and deal with being depressed can help you move forward. It is one of the best ways to cope with this and enter into the next stage of your life as a new person.
Financial insecurity or emotional imbalance due to daily problems can also lead to grieving.
Symptoms of grief
Grief can show various emotional and physical symptoms. These symptoms are common if they last for a few days or weeks. However, if there are prolonged signs of grieving, this is more likely a serious problem.
Emotional symptoms of grief
Emotional signs of grief are:
Inability to be happy even in happy circumstances
Lost in the thoughts of grief
Irritability towards people, things, and life, in general
The pain is still there, but it is no longer debilitating pain. The person has recovered enough to continue with their day-to-day activities.
So, how long is the grieving process?
It depends from person to person. The cycle of grief can last for a few weeks to forever. It’s a matter of will to move from one stage to another.
If you are thinking about what are the stages of grief that can last a long time, honestly, it depends on you!
The stages of grief in a relationship are just a pattern that a brilliant psychologist observed. You don’t have to follow it step by step like a recipe. It’s possible to skip the denial, anger, bargaining, or depression stage.
It’s also possible to stay there for the rest of your life. Knowing where you are and what you are doing allows you to move forward. Only when you reach true acceptance can you be healed.
Treatment of grief
When things fall apart, and all else fails. Hopelessness will lead to emotions of grief. This is a precarious time and a sensitive point. Generally, a mental health professional will be the right choice to guide the grieving person and help them out of the situation with grief management tips and grief counseling.
So, do I need professional help?
Note that grief is not an ordinary everyday sadness, and if it is prolonged, you need more help to deal with stages of grief in a relationship. Professional therapists, counselors, or psychiatrists can lend a hand for a more formal treatment of and grief counseling techniques.
The person suffering from loss will turn to anything, including religion, other supernatural powers, even their enemies, to ask for a resolution. They are doing this to get rid of the pain.
It is necessary to have an active support group that provides grief recovery steps when a person is going through grief.
It’s important never to leave a grieving person alone during the depression stage. They would say they want to be alone, remember that it isn’t true.
They are just too ashamed to face anyone at the moment, but they are dying for company. Figure out a way to break the wall.
Attachment theory and grief
The main theme of the attachment theory is that the primary caregiver is available to attend to the needs of the infant. This gives the infant a sense of security. Attachment theory is developed from a parent-child relationship and further influences our other relationships in life.
In his book titled Attachment and Loss, John Bowlby describes that in times of loss and grief, we resort to our basic attachment styles and the same fashion of feeling, thinking, and responding to the pain.
The end to stages of loss and grief comes after the entire roller-coaster of emotions associated with the loss or a relationship breakup. After this point, you should expect changes in personality and a new vision of seeing things.
For better or for worse, you learned a valuable lesson in love and relationships. How that lesson manifests, positively or negatively, depends on the person’s base morality and principles.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.