Tag Archives: Replace the loss

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8 Things You Can Do When Grieving A Divorce

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Sometimes we are quick to judge and wonder why anyone would grieve a divorce. Before we start on this topic, I wanted to share a Grief Recovery Method® definition, “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” If we look at divorce as changing a familiar pattern of behavior, sometimes after many, many decades, it would follow that a divorce can (and should) cause grief.

PRETENDING WE ARE OKAY

However these days, many of us plaster on a smile and pretend we don’t care. We don’t want to be judged or analyzed by our friends (i.e. “Why are your grieving for that jerk?” “You are better off without him,” “I can set you up with someone else.”).  We don’t want anyone to know how we are really feeling (i.e. “I am just so glad this is finally happening.”) when your heart is really breaking.

But even when we “fall out of love” or “dislike” the person we’ve been married to for all those years, it still hurts. It hurts because no one enters a marriage expecting it to fail. It hurts because all the plans we had for the future aren’t going to happen anymore. Retiring together in Idaho. Watching the children and grandchildren grow up. Taking a European vacation together. With a divorce, everything changes. Although we may not grieve for the spouse (I would argue that most people do), we do grieve for those unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations we had for the marriage and for the future

THINGS YOU CAN DO

Here are 8 things you can do when grieving a divorce:

Feel the emotions associated with the loss: Since every relationship is unique, how a person grieves is unique to that relationship. Feeling awful when you are going through a divorce is perfectly normal. Holding in your emotions will cause them too build over time.  The more they build, the more likely they are to affect our mental and physical well-being. This is why many people who avoid grieving end up with an illness. The bottom line is to feel the emotions. Grieving is normal and natural. Be sad. Be numb. Be tired. Your heart, mind and body will thank you.

Share how you are feeling: It’s so easy to just plaster on a fake smile and drag ourselves through day-to-day activities. Don’t do it. It you don’t feel like attending a sporting event on the weekend then don’t do it. Rather than not showing up to these events just let everyone know you are having a tough time, appreciate their offer but have to decline the invite. Those who love you will understand. You have to do what’s right for you

Ask for help: It is okay to ask for help. When things are “normal” we run around like superman and superwoman. We multi-task all day and collapse exhausted in bed at night. Grief turns our whole upside down. We can’t think. We can’t react. We can’t speak. We can’t sleep. Trying to do everything yourself is just asking for trouble. Reach out. Even if it is just asking someone to sit with you while you talk or cry. Maybe it’s asking another parent to take the kids for a few hours so you can actually get some much needed sleep. Asking for help when you are grieving is far better, definitely safer and certainly healthier for you than trying to handle everything yourself!

Be honest with your children: Children look up to us. They tend to do as we do. It’s important that as adults, we communicate accurately about our emotions so that our children can see, copy and learn. Tell your children the truth about how you are feeling. Being honest about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings. Just telling a child they were not the cause of their parents’ divorce is not enough. Having more helpful ideas about broken hopes, dreams and expectations will help children deal better with the enormous emotions created by divorce. By helping them face their emotions, you are ensuring they can more effectively deal with grief and loss events throughout their lives.

Practice self-care: Too many times we put our own self care on hold because we are facing grief. Did you know that grievers have a higher incident of illness and accidents? This is why it is important to try and take care of yourself as much as possible. If you are physically healthy, it makes it easier to deal with your emotions. If you are physically, spiritually and emotionally drained you put yourself at risk of getting sick or being in an accident. Be gentle with yourself during this time.

Take one day at a time  Don’t stress yourself out by thinking too far into the future. Just take it one day at a time. You may know how everything is going to work out and that’s okay.

Don’t be a victim: We often tend to blame the other person for how we feel at the end of marriage. When you hold someone else responsible for your feelings you place yourself in an “emotional jail.” The other person can never let you out; you become a victim and that’s a difficult, if not impossible, way to live. You have to free yourself in order to heal.

Allow your heart to heal before finding another relationship:  Sometime we want to find another relationship right away. We don’t want to be alone. Being with somebody is better than being alone. But replacing one relationship with another is unhealthy unless you have grieved and completed the loss. Starting to date when you haven’t dealt with the one “just-ending” can sabotage the new relationship. Emotional baggage we develop in reaction to the end of a marriage can become long-term habits that get dragged with us from relationship to relationship. It’s better to grieve and “complete” the relationship before moving on.

Divorce does not mean you failed.  Addressing any unmet hopes, dreams and expectations for the future can bring peace.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Urban Legends About Grief

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Most of us over the course of our lifetime have heard at least one or more of the following statements after the loss of a loved one:

  1. Time Heals All Wounds
  2. Grieve Alone
  3. Be Strong
  4. Don’t Feel Bad
  5. Replace The Loss
  6. Keep Busy

Society has perpetuated the use of these terms so much so that they have become part of our vernacular. If you think about it though, are these statements really true? In reality they should be classified as urban legends. Why urban legends? According to Merriam Webster an urban legend is “a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many people believe is true but that is not true.” This can be said about these 6 grief statements we have all heard. We have believed them to be true all these years but they are not.

Grief Recovery_Six Myths_001_2015

Let’s walk through each of them in more detail:

Time Heals All Wounds – How many of you are still grieving after losing someone 5, 10 or 20 years ago? Does it hurt any less? Do you miss that person any less? Probably not. For some, the pain may get even worse. Time definitely does not heal our pain.

Grieve Alone – We have been taught that we are not to burden others with our grief. I felt that way after the suicides of my two friends. You don’t want to bother others with your sadness so you keep it to yourself. In some cases, you reach out to others but they don’t know what to do to help you. As a result you feel lost and alone so you isolate yourself as a way of handling the grief that others can’t. Grieving alone certainly doesn’t work.

Be Strong – If you are the oldest child a family you know this one well. If something happens you have to be the strong one for your younger siblings. You have to suck it up and not show your emotions. Heaven forbid the younger ones see you crying. What sort of message does that send? Maybe they will think you are weak instead of just plain sad. Trying to be strong just gives the wrong message that you are not trying to be human.

Don’t Feel Bad – How many of us have been told as a child not to cry when something bad happened? Rather than expressing our emotions we were told to hold it in. I think many of the generations before us were never allowed to show their feelings. Men joined the military and were told to check their emotions at the door. Some children have never ever seen their parents cry. No wonder they grow into adults who can’t deal with their own emotions.

Replace The Loss – I am pretty sure that most of my generation has heard after a relationship break-up “Don’t feel bad, there are plenty of fish in the sea”. Not sure if that was supposed to make us feel better but in actuality it made it worse. What it implies though is that we not wait and grieve over the loss of the relationship but to move on right away and replace the old one with a new one. That can’t be healthy. Maybe that is why so many people have a revolving door in relationships; maybe even two at one time in case one of them doesn’t work out. No wonder there are so many divorces these days.

Keep Busy – Speaking from experience I can say I became a workaholic just so I didn’t have to think after the suicides of my two friends. Keep busy. Keep working. Don’t think about it. It’s much easier than facing your grief. In reality, it’s worse because you don’t end up facing your grief at all.

So I say to these grief urban legends – go away. Go far, far away. This isn’t how we are supposed to grieve at all. We need to stop perpetuating these ideas with ourselves and with future generations and find healthier ways to grieve.

 Below is The Grief Recovery Method® Video about “6 Dangerous Myths About Grief”:

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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