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Coping with the Emotional Stages of Divorce


While it may seem out of turn or inappropriate to compare the emotional stages of divorce to the emotional stages of death, they often appear remarkably similar for many people. In some very real ways, dealing with grief and divorce is an emotional loss, a lot like dealing with death. After all, it is the death of a relationship, an era, and a part of your life.

While you may have heard about the stages of grief, the emotional stages of divorce are much less commonly known. Grieving the loss of a marriage is a sad and unique experience for everyone, but at Buckhead Family Law, we consistently see our clients pushing through these 5 distinct stages:

Stage 1: Denial & Avoidance

No one wants or anticipates a divorce on their wedding day. So, it only makes sense that the first stage is the denial phase when you really don’t believe what is happening – and then you start to avoid thinking about what this separation could truly mean for you, your family, and your lifestyle. This is when you may start drinking, going out with friends, partying, exercising, or doing anything else to an extreme that may help to keep your mind off of your divorce and numb the pain of your loss.

Stage 2: Anger

The next stage of grief in divorce isn’t grief at all: it is anger – and for some, this stage is the hardest. This is when you begin to actually think about what your divorce is costing you, and you may get really angry about all aspects of your divorce: that it is happening, that you got married at all, and how your ex-spouse is acting now. The anger you are feeling is valid, but you cannot allow those feelings to shift you out of character or it could reflect poorly upon you in court.

Stage 3: Guilt

The next stage you may experience is guilt: you feel guilty about putting your family through this, your friends through this, and perhaps most importantly, your children through this. You will try to make it up in many, many ways. However, you should know that you don’t need to feel guilty about trying to prioritize your self-care and wellbeing. That is where your focus should be at this particular point in time. These feelings will pass, and when you feel better, you will be able to show up for your family and friends in ways that you simply couldn’t before now.

Stage 4: Depression

This fourth phase is where you begin to fully grasp and understand the finality of what’s happening, and extreme feelings of sadness and despair may set in. You may also start to feel depressed about the life you lost and just thinking about getting back into the messy dating scene may be enough to push you over the edge. After divorce, depression is extremely common, so you just need to make sure that you take care of yourself. If you begin feeling like you might harm yourself or someone else, you should confide in a close friend or family member, and seek medical treatment immediately.

Remember that your family, friends, and even your lawyers will be there to help you through this.

Stage 5: Acceptance

This is where the magic happens! After weeks, months, or even years (everyone’s timing is different), you will begin to fully accept your divorce. You may start to develop some strategic coping mechanisms to help handle some of the fallout. However, once your divorce is finalized, you are inevitably left to pick up the pieces, and this can be a rocky road. It is here that you learn you have nothing left to do but find peace and acceptance in this milestone, so you can begin moving forward.

Still, be gentle and patient with yourself, and move forward in good faith that there is something better for you just beyond the horizon.

Seek Expert Legal Guidance: Prioritize Your Emotional Wellbeing

You are 100% allowed to be emotional and navigate the stages of grief while you are going through a divorce. Everyone mourns their divorce in different ways, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Buckhead Family Law, our experienced legal team can help you power through the emotional stages of divorce while taking charge of the legal matters as well. We are here to assist you and help this be a positive turning point for your family as you move your life forward. Schedule a consultation today by calling at 404-600-1403.

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