Denial, anger, revenge, depression and yes, even bargaining are normal emotions you may experience after or during a divorce. There is no beginning, middle, or end for each stage, and it’s likely you will continue to experience these feelings quite often.
Denial is the refusal that something is requested or desired. It is a cognitive process that is an attempt to alter our experience of unwanted emotions. This coping mechanism can protect you from being emotionally overwhelmed, as long as it does not keep you from progress which, ultimately is facing reality.
Anger is a secondary emotion that can hang around longer than anticipated, adding stress to an already difficult time, and anger can prevent your reaching the healing stages and coping with the many emotions a divorce creates. Car battery died? Raging about it won’t help. Forgot something at the grocery store? Blaming it on your partner will only cause more friction. Saying things that are not true or even if those things are true just to “poke the fire,” so to speak, aren’t great for little ears to hear. You will be angry during a divorce, but it’s important to choose your timing for letting it out.
After coming out of the denial and anger phase of coping emotionally with divorce it’s possible to enter the bargaining stage to attempt to repair damages made in your life. It’s a last ditch attempt to coming to the realization that you have either made a mistake or the right decision. Missing your significant other’s touch, laugh, or even the sound of the keys in the lock coming home after a long day can cause a person to beg or barter to get their partner back. If a mistake was made, this is the point when it could be revealed.
Depression is inevitable. It can affect your work life, social life and even time with your children. Therapy and counseling are effective ways to help cope with depression. Mindfulness exercises you can do anytime and anywhere can be applied on a daily basis to help you understand how you are feeling and why you are feeling a certain way. Mindfulness can also help curb tension and lessen reactions to emotions right on the spot with practice. Alternatively, you can rely on your friends to be a sounding board and help you navigate your feelings. However, one must be mindful of calling up a friend repeatedly, as these actions can overwhelm them and take time away from their own life. The depression stage may be present during the first stage through the last and can last even after acceptance. If you continue to feel depressed, we encourage you to seek out professional medical help.
Acceptance does not mean all of those negative emotions are gone. They will come back here and there. You’ll still feel angry and depressed but, hopefully, not for long. If you’re struggling to reach the acceptance that your marriage has ended, a trained medical professional can help unstick you from one or many of the emotional stages of grieving a marriage.