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Can a divorce follow the universal stages of grief?

At some point in everyone’s life we all must handle and deal with grief. Usually, grief is associated with the loss of someone close to you through death. But is it possible to experience the same type of grief if that person does not die, but divorces you?

In the book, “On Death and Dying” written by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, it is pointed out that grief can be divided into five stages. While the book focuses on grief being associated with death, it can also be linked with the feelings one has with divorce. Here are the stages of grief and how they can relate to divorce.

Denial

If you were not the one who filed for the divorce and were blindsided by the actions of your spouse, experiencing denial can be common. Especially if as a couple you were not experiencing the kind of problems you felt would result in divorce. Denial manifests itself as you take time to process this new information and adjust to the reality of it.

Anger

After taking time to process all the emotions and feelings you have absorbed with the news of your divorce, one way of dealing with it is through anger. You will inevitably be reacting to one of the causes of the divorce and not agreeing with it. Whether it be an accusation against you or a perception of one aspect of the marriage you do not agree with. You may just be angry that you are in this situation and that your life has been interrupted.

Bargaining

Once the anger begins to wear off, the next phase is all about how to make things better or return to how things once were. This is a time you may find yourself promising to act in a different way or to be a different person that will make your spouse change their mind about leaving you.

Depression

If bargaining does not work and it becomes apparent that you will in fact lose your spouse and break-up the family, it can cause despair and depression. At this time, you may also deal with loneliness as the home you are living in is much quieter than before. Divorce has a way of making the future seem meaningless and you may wonder what you will need to do to move forward.

Acceptance

The adage that “time heals all wounds” plays a big part in acceptance. In time, you may start adjusting to your new life and realize that you made it through the divorce okay. The passage of time may also make you see that the divorce was justified. As you work your way through the acceptance phase, you can begin to feel empowered about your future.

It is important to note that not all people who go through a divorce experience each state of grief. Some people may only go through one or two stages, while others may spend more time in one stage than another person.

There is one stage of grief that can be included in this list when it comes to divorce, and that is guilt. Regardless if you were the spouse that filed or the one who received the divorce papers, a sense of guilt about the marriage coming to an end can cause guilt. Like the other emotions, this is something that may or may not be felt by those going through a divorce.

Divorce can lead to many emotions and cause you stress. Trying to deal with these feelings through the process can be difficult. If you are going through a divorce, if you have not already, you should contact a divorce attorney  who can provide you with the knowledge and guidance you will need during that time.

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