“I had no idea how powerful the grief and loss of going through a divorce can be and how debilitating it is to try to put your life back together again after such a profound loss,” says Richard after his recent divorce.
Who am I now? What went wrong? What will my life be like now without my partner? These are commonly felt questions that arise as a result of the confusion and uncertainty of a relationship loss.
Almost half of all marriages end in divorce, and whether you are married or not, the ending of a love relationship can be one of the most stressful and difficult experiences you’ll ever have. Many people enter into marriage or a relationship with the idea that their life will be better as a result. The disappointment of it not turning out this way can feel devastating. It launches us into uncharted territory and deep emotional feelings of despair, loneliness, grief, revenge, hopelessness, and helplessness — to name a few.
Recovering from the end of a relationship is always difficult and takes time. You will, however, move on and can even use this stressful time to gain in compassion, wisdom, and strength.
Suggestions to help you adjust to and cope with your changed circumstances:
Allow Yourself to Grieve. The loss is more than just of the relationship but of shared dreams, companionship, and support: financial, social, and emotional. Grief is a natural human reaction to loss, and it won’t last forever. Allowing yourself to feel grief will help you begin to move on. You should also realize it can take time — from several months to several years.
If You Can Feel It, You Can Heal It. Identify and acknowledge all your feelings and know that they all are okay. It’s normal to have many conflicting emotions and lots of ups and downs. Even though your emotions may be painful, trying to suppress them may actually prolong the grieving process. Give yourself some breaks — you don’t always have to be on task the way you were before and should allow yourself some downtime.
Share Your Feelings with Others. Do not try to go through this experience alone. Let others know how you feel. Surround yourself with people who support and value you. Join a support group such as Mindful Transitions to get the support and friendship from others in the same situation who really understand.
Learn to Take Care of Yourself. Make time everyday to nurture yourself. Schedule time for healing or soothing activities. Honor your own needs.
Develop a Routine. Divorce can disrupt almost every area of your life. Creating structure can be comforting and provide a sense of normalcy.
Deal with Your Feelings of Being Overwhelmed. This is a time of enhanced stress. There is often an extraordinarily long list of tasks that you need to do during this transition. Make a list, prioritize, and break down what needs to be done, then check things off. Only do what is reasonable and be gentle with yourself.
Chose to Begin to Move Forward
Even though grief can be immobilizing, after a while, you will feel like beginning to move on with your life. This can happen even while continuing to grieve. Know that you can use this painful situation to learn and grow.
Some suggestions for moving forward after the end of a relationship:
Learn from Your Mistakes. Separate what was and wasn’t your responsibility in the problems of the relationship. Be honest with yourself without beating yourself up. Begin to look at the part the choices you made played and then how you can avoid repeating the same mistakes and make better choices in the future. This is a helpful time to consider therapy or finding someone who can be an objective support for you.
Connect with Others. When you’re ready, begin to explore new interests and activities. Most importantly, cultivate new friendships of supportive people with whom you can talk and spend time and try new things. Keep your relationships on a friendship, not romantic, basis.
Clean out Reminders of Your Former Life. Put old pictures away and begin to handle the tasks your spouse used to do. Limit your contact with your spouse. As you do, you will find yourself becoming more independent and self-sufficient.
As you allow yourself day by day to have the freedom to grieve, learn from your mistakes, and begin to explore new parts of yourself, you will discover that you can move on. You’ll see that you are stronger than you previously thought and new hopes and dreams begin to take the place of those you lost.
Jennifer Downs, a licensed professional counselor, facilitates a transformational program that can help you adjust to the end of a love relationship.
Call 541 – 488-4872 or contact me for more information.