Several years ago Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote extensively about the Stages of Grief one goes through when mourning the death of a loved one. They are:
Divorcing spouses, both the Leaver and the Left, will go through the same stages of grief in mourning the death of their marriage. Being aware of them can be reassuring and help you view your emotional healing as being part of a normal, human process. Here are the emotional stages of grief you may encounter.
This can take many forms from denying that a divorce is even going to take place to denial of the emotional pain that’s involved. If you find yourself saying “No, really, I’m fine,” too early in the separation and divorce process, beware. Face the situation as it really is, head on. Only then can you begin to deal with it.
There may be many different sources of your anger:
m infidelity, physical or emotional, real or imagined;
m the “ever after” has come to an end, and with it your secure, dependable future;
m you may be left with the full responsibility of child rearing;
m you may be kept away from your children and denied visitation;
m some feel overwhelmed and stupid over so many unfamiliar chores to be done, like bill paying;
m often, sudden insecurity over your financial future;
m (the Leaver) over ongoing pain inflicted during the last part of the marriage;
m (the Left) feelings of confusion and perceived self incompetence.
This only begins to show the reasons for anger at the end of a marriage!
Some try to strike a deal with the soon-to-be-ex, with God, or any other likely candidate.
Basically this is the feeling of deep and weighty sadness or hopelessness, often with lingering anger. The physical and emotional symptoms of depression are legion. This is the point at which a lot of people seek professional counseling.
This doesn’t mean great joy or riotous celebration. It simply means you have come to terms with the divorce. Both the good times and the painful ones belong in the past, and your future as a Newly Single is what matters now.
The Leaver and the Left will both go through the grieving, but they go through the stages at different times.
And it’s perfectly normal to bounce back and forth from one stage to another and back, sometimes bringing some of the others phases along for the ride.
You don’t have to go through this process alone. A qualified psychotherapist or counselor can help you move through the stages past the anger and guilt, and will try to keep you from getting stuck along the way. (Professional counseling can be especially helpful in the denial and anger stages for some.) Loving friends and family support are also invaluable.