Dealing With Grief

How Much Grief In Divorce Is Normal?

Man sitting on the beach struggling with his grief in divorce.

How to know if what you’re feeling is excessive grief or not.

It’s normal and expected that you will feel grief in divorce. After all, divorce is the end of a way of life and of your dreams. It makes sense that you’d feel sad about it, mourn who you were in your married life and are no more, and be grief-stricken that all of your plans for a happily-ever-after have come to a screeching halt.

It’s even normal for grief in divorce to trigger situational depression and for you to have some seriously uncharacteristic and uncomfortable thoughts.

Dealing with divorce grief is really hard. For most people, it’s a depth of pain they’ve seldom or ever experienced before. And because it’s so unfamiliar, it’s important to know – and be able to recognize – when what you’re experiencing is not typical.

What is normal grief?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneering grief researcher. She found that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She also found that no one simply proceeds through each of the stages one after the other.

Grief in divorce is complicated and personal. No one experiences it in exactly the same way.

Chances are you’ll flow through the…

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The 5 Most Common Reasons For Divorce (& 5 Very Unusual Ones)

Cat watching an unhappy couple discussing their reasons for divorce.

There’s not just one right reason to call it quits.

People have a multitude of motives for wanting to know the reasons for divorce. Maybe they want to understand why their spouse has chosen divorce instead of working on their marriage. Maybe they want to know if what they’re going through in their marriage is worthy of divorce. Maybe they’re just curious about why people divorce in general.

Whatever your motivation is for looking up the reasons people decide to call it quits, you’ll find both research-based answers along with others that will surprise you below.

The 5 Research-Based Reasons People Divorce

Researchers interviewed 52 divorced individuals who had received the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) while engaged. In 2013, they presented their findings. Here are the top 5 reasons they discovered that lead to divorce:

  1. Lack of commitment.

    According to the research, the number one reason people divorce is a lack of commitment. This means that at least one spouse stopped making their marriage a priority. When a spouse decides to stop making a daily commitment to have a great relationship, misery follows.

    For some couples, the estrangement happened gradually. They drifted apart until one of them was unwilling to continue living with an unfulfilling…

Read more: The 5 Most Common Reasons For Divorce (& 5 Very Unusual Ones)

5 Strategies To Help You Deal With A Divorce Grief Relapse

Beautiful mature woman wondering why she had a divorce grief relapse.

Feeling grief long after you’ve healed from your divorce is pretty common.

For the first couple of years of my marriage, my husband noticed that I would get grumpy around Thanksgiving – despite having wonderful plans for the holiday. He finally brought it to my attention. And after some careful thought, I realized I was grumpy because I had married my first husband around Thanksgiving. I had been having a divorce grief relapse each Thanksgiving!

Divorce grief relapses are fairly common. They don’t necessarily mean that you’re not over your divorce. They just signal there’s still a little more accepting you can do to fully heal.

Acceptance is the final stage of grief. The others include denial, pain and fear, bargaining, guilt, and depression. To reach acceptance you experience most if not all these stages – sometimes multiple times.

And the thing about divorce is there is a multitude of things to grieve. Some of these things are obvious and some are less so.

It’s when you get through the known, obvious bits of grief that you’ll typically feel you’re over your divorce. Which is why it can feel so disconcerting to have a divorce grief relapse.

Instead of immediately beginning to worry that maybe you’re…

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Why Overcoming Divorce Grief Is So Freakin’ Hard

Woman lying on a bed struggling with overcoming divorce grief.

It’s hard. It sucks. But it’s not impossible.

Divorce is complicated (and it sucks) because you’re faced with seemingly non-stop social, emotional, legal, financial, and the everyday challenges of your new life. Everything changes and not always for the better – at least at first. Of course, all these changes trigger grief which you may think you understand because you’ve grieved before. But overcoming divorce grief is completely different from getting over any other type of grief.

It’s different because you’re constantly reminded of the losses – and there are a lot of things you lose when you divorce. You lose your status as a spouse. You lose time with your kids. You lose the financial means you had together. You lose friends. You lose your dreams for the future.

You lose so very many things that you’ll subtly and obviously be reminded of…

  • when you look at your beautiful child and see the resemblance to your ex.
  • when you hear someone talking about their spouse and the fun they had over the weekend.
  • when you’re struggling to figure out how to make ends meet.
  • when you’re home all alone over the weekend and your kids are with their other parent.
  • when you see a commercial for…

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10 Ways Dealing With Grief After Divorce Is Different From Grief Over Death

Bearded man looking off in the distance and dealing with grief after divorce.

There’s the end and then there’s finality.

Divorce is often compared to death in terms of the experience of loss and grief. But despite their similarities, dealing with grief after divorce is different from grief over death.

When you’re suffering from any kind of pain or loss, the last thing you want is a comparison of your pain to others. “At least you still have (this),” “At least you didn’t lose (that),” “It could have been so much worse.”

Making comparisons, even with the best intentions, can minimize the sufferer’s feelings and reality. It can also lead the one making the comparisons to mete out compassion relative to the judgment made.

When comparing the ways that dealing with grief after divorce is different from grief after death, no such judgment is intended. Those who have experienced both divorce and the death of a spouse can best attest to the entanglement of their similarities and differences.

Some of the obvious ways that dealing with grief after divorce and dealing with grief after death of a spouse are similar include:

  • There is the painful loss of a spouse, and often the loss of self-identity as a partner.
  • Both divorce and death mark an end to your hopes,…

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