April 16, 2013

What Are the Five Stages of Grief During Divorce?


Whether you reside in West Palm Beach or in Wellington, we have all had friends who have been divorced. Whether you've experienced your own divorce or witnessed a divorce with a close acquaintance, close friend or family member, you know that divorce is an emotional issue. Being sad when the marriage ends is natural. Divorce is an emotional task unlike any other in our modern society and different people experience it in different ways. Some individuals go through nearly all of the extreme emotional states that are described here, others have an earlier time getting through this unpleasant period in their lives and will maneuver those emotionally choppy waters with more skill.

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Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first described the stages of grieving about and recovering from a major traumatic event such as a death or divorce as follows:

  1. Denial: The realization that your marriage is ending is not easy to accept. Often we experience the emotions: "This is not happening to me; it's all a misunderstanding. It's just a mid-life crisis. We can work it out."
  2. Anger and Resentment: Feeling anger during a divorce or other emotion of loss is a natural part of the healing process. Anger may be directed at your spouse for causing you pain, yourself for failing to make your marriage a success or the universe for bringing that person into your life. This stage can be described as: "How can he (she) do this to me? What did I ever do to deserve this? This is not fair!"
  3. Bargaining: Bargaining as you are grieving a divorce may manifest itself in the form of cutting a deal with your spouse, yourself, or the universe in general. Spiritual bargaining is not uncommon nor is a sudden willingness to agree or compromise with points of dissention in your relationship. Individuals in this stage of grieving often find themselves thinking or saying: "If you'll stay, I'll change" or "If I agree to do it (money, child rearing, sex, whatever) your way, can we get back together?"
  4. Depression: Your marriage may be ending on the most amiable of terms, but you may still feel depressed about not making it work. An individual in this stage may confront the following: "This is not really happening; I can't do anything about it; and I don't think I can bear it."
  5. Acceptance: Accepting that the marriage is over is an important part of moving on in your life after a divorce. Even if you have residual feelings of guilt or anger, you can accept the reality of the situation. During this stage, you may think: "Okay, this is how it is, and I'd rather accept it and move on than wallow in the past."

Understanding these stages of grief can be very helpful in how you process your emotions and make decisions during divorce. It is important to know when you are in the early stages of the grief and recovery process, it can be challenging to think clearly or to make reasonable decisions. Consequently, being aware of your present stage of grief recovery is an important step towards ensuring that you will make the best choices that you can during your divorce.


Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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