When I was 13, my Grandpa died. I was devastated. He was my favorite person in the entire world and I was never going to see him again.
I wasn’t alone in my grief, my entire family was devastated – especially my Grandma. Grandma and Grandpa were very happily married and they were each other’s world.
Eventually, we were all able to process our grief and move on with our lives – except for Grandma. For the next 20 years, until her death, my grandma mourned the loss of her husband. When things happened that she didn’t like, she’d say, “Your grandpa wouldn’t have let that happen.” When things happened that she did like, she’d say, “Your grandpa would have liked that.”
It was really hard for me to hear her make comments like these. Every time I heard her make one of these statements I would cringe internally. It seemed to me that she must be missing out on life since she was so focused on the past and what she had lost.
I have very similar feelings today when I hear one of my clients tell me about how much they mourn what they used to have in their marriage. Don’t get me wrong, grief is a very normal and necessary part of divorce. No one can tell anyone else how long they need to grieve.
The thing is I also know that sometimes people don’t know how to finish grieving and start moving on after divorce. They wind up keeping themselves imprisoned in what was and what they believe should have been instead of figuring out ways to enjoy what is and what might be. I certainly don’t want that to happen to you.
What I’ve discovered in my years working with people dealing with divorce is that the individuals who are most successful in moving on after divorce are those who have hope that their life can and will be good, if not great, again.
Going through divorce can feel like you’re stuck in a long, dark, dank, cobweb-filled and scary tunnel. Hope can be the light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the quickest ways to find hope and start the process of moving on after divorce is to get in action – directed and planned action. To do this requires thoughtful planning. I’m not talking about the kind of planning that you force yourself to accomplish by a specific deadline. I’m talking about creating plans that inspire you to take action, that make you happy to think about accomplishing and that you are willing to do what it takes to achieve.
For many of my clients moving on after divorce often starts with the hope of being in another relationship. We start to turn this hope into a plan by stepping back from the idea of being in another relationship by figuring out what has to happen before they can be in another relationship. Usually that means they need to be dating. If they’re not currently dating, we take a step back and ask what needs to happen before they can be dating. Usually that means they need to meet people they can date. We continue this process of backing things up until we find an action they can take right now. An action that gives them hope that what they want to have in their life they can!
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What do you hope to have in your life? Allow yourself to truly dream when you answer this question. You can look at divorce as a chance at a do-over. What do you happily hope for?
As you take a step back from this hope, what needs to happen before your hope is a reality? It’s OK if you don’t know the EXACT thing that needs to happen before your hope is realized, just think about what in general needs to be true before your hope is realized.
Continue taking steps back until you have an action you can take today. Every day you have choices you can make about what you do. Wouldn’t it be great fun if one of the things you did today got you closer to making your hope a reality?
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice . And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach.