Grief and grieving are typically associated with death. But there are lots of other losses that can also trigger grief – especially if they feel like the death of a part of your identity.
According to The University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center, some of the other losses that can trigger grief are the loss of a friendship, serious illness of a loved one, leaving your home, change of job, loss of a physical ability, loss of financial security and relationship breakup.
Without a doubt, getting divorced can trigger grief and does for most people. It’s 100% normal to feel a lot of pain about the end of your marriage and all the other losses to go along with getting divorced.
Yet feeling miserable isn’t where you want to stay. You want to move on with your life and you know that there are stages to grief. Yet you just can’t seem to stop crying or sighing or feeling lost in the overwhelming sadness.
Dealing with grief is complicated – especially when you’re grieving divorce because there aren’t social norms for you (or your family and friends) to follow to help you get through your divorce grief.
So if you’re ready to begin dealing with your grief so you can move on with your life, you’re going to have to take matters into your own hands. Now it’s not quite as difficult as it sounds if you just follow these 9 tips:
1. Face your feelings.
As uncomfortable and unfamiliar as they are, facing your feelings is the only way to get through them. You can’t ignore your grief or stuff it down for long because it will erupt powerfully with all the repressed pain at some point in the future. Although, that doesn’t mean you have to face everything at once or all by yourself.
2. Lean on your friends and family for support.
Your friends and family love you and want to support you through this major life transition you’re facing, but they don’t really know how. You’re going to have to get specific with them about what you need – to talk, to receive a hug, to cook a meal for you and your kids. Ask for what you need and you’ll be surprised at how much love you’ll receive. However, your friends and family can’t be your only support system.
3. Join a divorce support group.
The people who are in these groups know EXACTLY what dealing with grief about divorce is like because they’re on the same journey. Interacting with others who get what you’re going through can be incredibly comforting because you’ll quickly realize you’re not quite as alone as you feel.
4. Work with a helping professional.
Talking with a therapist, clergy member or divorce coach who’s been through divorce themselves is tremendously valuable. Not only will they give you a different perspective or two for what you’re experiencing, but they’ll also give you specific tools that have worked for them and for others they’ve helped along their divorce journeys.
5. Find comfort in your faith.
Knowing that there’s a bigger picture and hope for your future can be extremely reassuring. The reassurance can provide you with the encouragement you need to get through dealing with your grief.
6. Express your grief in a creative or tangible way.
You might want to journal, write a eulogy for your marriage, exercise, beat a pillow while you sob, or even paint a picture of your grief.
Dealing with grief is a personal and therefore unique experience. Do what you feel drawn to do to express your grief in as many positive ways as possible. By doing so, you’ll be dealing with your grief about the end of your marriage in as complete a way as possible.
7. Take care of yourself.
Grief messes with you in all kinds of ways including your eating and sleeping. Take care of your body – eat, sleep, drink plenty of water and get some exercise.
In fact, despite mental health and physical health being thought of as distinctly separate things, the truth is that they are highly connected. So, to prevent your grief from lingering or becoming worse, take good care of your physical self as you’re dealing with your grief.
8. Don’t abuse drugs, alcohol, sex, food or anything else as a substitute for dealing with grief.
All any of these behaviors do is diminish your capacity to face your feelings and deal with your grief. And that will just make the pain last longer despite the respite you have in the moments you’re dulling your pain with your behavior(s) of choice.
9. Don’t make major decisions on your own.
This might seem impossible as you’re needing to make all kinds of major decisions as a result of your divorce, but get sage advice before sealing the deal. Work with an attorney you trust. Talk about the options with your friends, family and helping professional. When you have the valuable input you need, you’ll be able to make more sound decisions despite the fact that you’re still dealing with grief.
These 9 tips aren’t a magic wand you can use to suddenly stop having to deal with your grief. However, they will help you move through your grief as completely as possible, so you won’t get stuck along your way healing from your divorce.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.