The Reality of Divorce: Stress, Anxiety, and Loss

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There is a common misconception played out in the media today—it is one that is focused on the idea that life after divorce is one long and endless party—that you are “free” again, and that it is now time to once again revel in your singlehood. Quite frankly, I don’t want to paint the picture that you won’t experience some feelings of relief (depending on the terms and situation surrounding your divorce), but I also want to make you, the reader, aware that it is perfectly natural and quite okay to grieve for the life-altering transition that has just taken place.

No matter if you have been married for two years or twenty, facing the end of a marriage is hard. While you are entitled to be happy as a person, realize too that there are going to be the times when you feel stressed, anxious, sad, and forlorn—you are mourning the loss of what could have been. Just as when you deal with grief associated with the passing of a loved one, there are a range of emotions. Moreover, if you have responsibilities to attend to, such as your career and children, new dynamics are formed and there will be emotions attached that you will have to deal with as well.

Positive Steps Forward

There are some positive steps that you can take when dealing with the feelings of stress, anxiety, and loss that come with divorce. Consider the following:

  • As much as possible, stick to your routine. Try to keep up with your normal routine in order to create feelings of stability in your life. For example, if you usually go to a Zumba class on Thursday nights or get together with the boys for poker night on the first Saturday of each month—keep this up. Keeping a sense of order and continuity in your life will help ease some immediate worries that will be present as you adjust to your new life.
  • Stay healthy. Facing loss or grief can sometimes trigger a change in eating, exercising, or sleeping habits. In order to keep physical and mental energy and health up, take time to think about when and what you are eating, make time for a run or to head to the gym, and focus on getting quality sleep every night.
  • Prioritize decisions. It’s my advice to not make any sudden or huge decisions in the six months following your divorce. For instance, while you might need to find a new place to live, stick with what you know and throw off the urge to sell all of your belongings and move to France because you feel the change of scenery will do you good. Moreover, while some decisions will have to be made, such as separating bank accounts, selling off joint possessions, and the like, don’t focus on other life altering changes, like pursuing a new career, until the dust has settled.
  • Realize you don’t have to go it alone. Every person on this planet needs emotional support at some point in their life to combat feelings of sadness, depression, or isolation. Along with the legal help that you need pertaining to your divorce, enlist the help of your family, friends, or even an Executive Grief Coach to help with the release of anger and frustration.
  • Focus on the future—and the belief you can be happy. When the time feels right, start to imagine what the future looks like for you. Envision where you want to be, and start to create a plan that will allow it to become a reality. For example, if you do dream of moving to France, start the research that would facilitate such a move. Realize that you can make your dreams a reality—you do not have to be stuck in the past or allow sadness and loss to make a permanent home in your heart and mind.
  • Stay positive. I do not want you to think of yourself as a failure. While your marriage might have ended, your life will go on. This is a learning experience! Focus on your positive qualities and how this life event has allowed you to gain insight and grow as a person. By thinking positively, you will start to craft a positive future and you will be able to find your footing more quickly.

And if You Are Trying to Help Someone Else…

Being a friend, family member, co-worker, or employer of someone who has recently gone through a divorce can be challenging as well. You might be unsure of what to say. Are they happy or sad? Do they want to talk about it? Do they need time alone? What can I do to help?

Of course, there are many troubling questions that need answers—and the person might not be in a position to actually express how they feel or what they need from you. They might not yet be in a place yet where they know they need help or they might be suppressing their emotions, putting on a brave face to the world.   Here’s my advice to you:

  • Learn about the divorce process, even if you don’t have to face such an endeavor in your own life. Let me tell you that it is an intensive, overwhelming experience. There are many ways to divorce and the individual in your life might need a sounding board.
  • Listen, listen, and keep listening. This is probably one of the best gifts and forms of support you can offer. Just as when a person loses their partner or spouse to death, there is the need to tell and retell the story. This might be the opportunity for your friend to take the first step to recovery, and may help them separate emotional worries from legal and financial concerns.
  • Be patatient. No matter if you are a friend, family member, co-worker, or employer, provide comfort through your ability to be patient and supportive. Right now, you have someone in your life who is struggling, and likely not operating on all cylinders, as hard as they may be trying to do so. Recognize that their life has been changed, and ask them how you can help.

For more information about how to help someone face divorce and move on with their life, or if you are struggling with issues in your own life, visit www.BLTStrategies.com. I invite you to explore my website and contact me today for help.

Mary Ellen Wasielewski