Understanding the 5 Stages of Grief with Divorce

The Five Stages of Grief with Divorce blog cover

A divorce is one of the most difficult life events that anyone can ever experience. The emotional and psychological impact can be incredibly overwhelming for all parties involved. In this post, we look at the stages of grief associated with divorce and how understanding them can be an important part of the healing process.

When you’ve committed to spending the rest of your life with somebody, it can be soul-destroying to accept that your relationship has ended and that you must continue in life without them. It can feel like grieving a death, and in many ways, it is. You are grieving the death of a connection and a relationship that you hoped would last forever.

It’s important to recognize that grief is a normal part of a divorce. We have evolved to form strong bonds and attachments, so it makes sense that the separation of these can trigger powerful stages of mourning.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that will make the pain go away. However, by understanding and accepting the five stages of grief associated with divorce, you can begin to heal. After all, understanding a situation enables you to make better-informed decisions, take appropriate action and move forward.

The five stages of grief with divorce

The five stages of grief, as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In this post, we’ll explore each of these stages in further detail to help you understand the process of grief.

It might feel right now that you will never be able to move on and that the pain of your divorce will stay with you forever. But with time, the hurt and pain will begin to subside. You will get through this.

Let’s take a look at each of the five stages of grief in more detail.

1. Denial.

This first stage of grief with divorce is characterized by shock and disbelief that it’s actually happening to you. You may find yourself thinking things like, “This can’t be happening,” or “Surely it won’t go ahead.” During the denial stage, it can be difficult to accept that your marriage is over and that your life is changing drastically.

Denial is a common emotional coping mechanism. It involves avoiding, rejecting, and denying the reality of the divorce, usually in an effort to avoid facing the facts of a situation. This stage of grief with divorce is often characterized by clinging onto any hope that you can still salvage the marriage. You might feel physically sick, numb, and unable to think about your future.

When faced with trying times, denial can act as a lifeline that temporarily prevents us from being overwhelmed with emotion. We may deny reality in order to allow ourselves time to process and come up with strategies for dealing with the problem at hand. Pushing away thoughts and feelings related to our present circumstances allows us some breathing room and creates space for hope and change. However, denial can also be dangerous when taken too far, as it impedes our ability to realistically confront our problems head-on.

2. Anger.

The second stage of grief with divorce is often marked by intense feelings of anger, either towards your ex-partner or yourself. The anger towards your former partner can stem from feelings of them treating you poorly, leaving you, or not being able to work out your issues as a couple. When your anger is directed towards yourself, it may involve feelings of guilt, regret, or self-blame.

Anger is a powerful emotion that serves as a coping mechanism against stressful or difficult situations. Despite what we are told, anger can be beneficial when it’s used in the right way. It can help us to stand up for ourselves and our rights, as well as give us the motivation to make positive changes in our lives. For example, if you are in an unhealthy relationship, anger can be used to motivate yourself to leave. Anger can also be a powerful driver in helping us to find solutions.

Couple anger arguing

However, anger can also be damaging if it isn’t channeled in the right way. It can lead to lashing out, making rash decisions, and saying things we regret. You have to ask yourself: is your anger reasonable, and are the actions you are compelled to take wise? It isn’t healthy or productive to stay angry for a prolonged period of time, so it’s important to find ways to manage this emotion if you find yourself stuck in the anger stage of grief with divorce.

3. Bargaining.

The third stage of grief with divorce is bargaining. You may find yourself trying to negotiate with your ex-partner or even with fate itself in an attempt to undo what has been done and return to the way things were before the breakup occurred. The bargaining stage of the grieving process can involve making promises, such as promising to be a better partner if only you were given another chance.

Bargaining is a way of trying to regain control. Instead of letting it slip away, this stage involves trying to negotiate a situation or bargain for the outcome that you want. It’s essentially an attempt to relieve existing pain and avoid future suffering. Unfortunately, this stage of grief with divorce is rarely successful and can lead to disappointment in the long run.

The best thing you can do here is to try not to dwell too much on what could have been different if only certain events had played out differently. You simply can’t change this now so it’s best just to accept it. Overthinking the past will only lead to further pain and heartache. It’s worth noting that not everyone goes through the bargaining stage of grief with divorce; some people skip over it and move on to the next stages.

4. Depression.

This fourth stage of grief with divorce is characterized by extreme sadness and a feeling of hopelessness about the future without your partner in it. You might feel like you will never be happy again and that life won’t ever be the same again after such a huge loss.

While it’s important to feel and process your emotions after experiencing such loss, depression can take over and make it feel like you are stuck in an endless cycle of negativity, unable to move forward. It’s important to remember that the sadness and loneliness you feel now aren’t permanent and that you will feel better with time.

During this stage of the grieving process, it’s essential to focus on self-care by engaging in activities that bring you joy and connecting with people who support you. It’s also important to remember that depression does not define you or the relationship you had with your ex-partner. If necessary, talk to a therapist or seek out additional support for help in navigating this difficult time. With time and dedication, you will come out of this stage stronger and more resilient.

Anxiety and depressed

5. Acceptance.

The fifth and final stage of grief with divorce is acceptance. This stage involves acknowledging and coming to terms with the fact that the relationship has ended and accepting that your life will look different going forward. During this stage, the light at the end of the tunnel becomes clearer, and you start to find hope for the future again.

It’s important to note that acceptance doesn’t mean you’re happy about the divorce or that your feelings of sadness and loss have completely vanished. There will still likely be moments when memories come flooding back unexpectedly. However, you will generally start to feel more at peace and more able to move on from the situation during the grieving process. You will also start to find joy in life again, even if it’s in small moments.

Acceptance may take a while to achieve, and everyone goes about it differently. Depending on the nature of your marriage, it can take years to reach this point. However, with time and patience, you will eventually reach a place of acceptance. When you do, you should be proud of yourself. As we mentioned at the start, divorce is one of the most difficult things anyone can go through. But acceptance means you have made it through the stages of grief and come out the other side stronger and wiser.

How the stages of grief with divorce manifest

It’s important to note that the stages may not always be linear and that everyone processes grief differently. While the order above is typical, some people may skip stages or experience them out of order. This is completely normal, and it’s nothing to worry about. Everyone is different, and each divorce situation is unique.

The stages of grief can also take different amounts of time for each person. Some people may move through them quickly, and others may take longer. It’s important to be patient with yourself and to give yourself the time and space you need to process your emotions.

Additionally, people feel all the stages of grief to varying degrees. For example, one person might feel deep, intense anger, while another might barely experience anything in that stage. Likewise, some people may be bed-bound by depression, while others might feel more of a low-level sadness.

As you might expect by this point, the timelines for each stage also vary greatly. Some stages may be resolved quickly, while others may take years to overcome.

Try not to compare your timeline with anyone else’s, as each individual experiences their own stages of grief differently. It’s not a competition. In fact, if you try to race through it too quickly, you may not give yourself the chance to fully process your divorce, which can lead to further issues down the line.

Final thoughts on the stages of grief with divorce

All emotions are valid, and they are there for a reason. We just need to process them and manage them in the right way. It can be easier said than done, but a mindful approach can make all the difference. The fact that you are reading this article is a sign that you are taking the time to understand the process, and that is an important part of the journey.

Even acceptance of the grieving process itself is a step in the right direction. This can help us realize that bottling up our feelings won’t help in the long run.

Divorce is an incredibly difficult experience, but understanding the five stages of grief associated with the process can help you deal with it in a healthier and more constructive way. Knowing which emotions to expect during each phase can help you to prepare for what’s ahead.

No matter what happens during this difficult period in life, remember there are always people out there who care about you and want nothing more than for you to be happy again. Be mindful of your actions, practice self-care, and seek support from those close to you. This is a time to be gentle with yourself and allow the stages of grief to play out in your own time.

With time and dedication, you will eventually make it through the stages of grief with divorce, even if that seems hard to believe now. With compassion for yourself and patience, you will get through this, and you will find peace again.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our post about how to let go of someone you love and letting go quotes.

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