What Are The Stages Of Divorce? How Do You Get Through Them?

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While divorce marks the end of a big chapter in your life, it is also the beginning of a new one. It might not feel like a beginning because all you currently feel is shock, denial, and anchor. Like any other trauma or major change, you are growing through five stages of grief. Each stage is clearly defined by the emotions you experience but overcoming them and moving to the next stage is essential to recover. It is easier to move on when you know what each stage means and we hope this blog offers you some clarity. 

1. Shock and Denial

Feeling numb or disbelief that your spouse asked for a divorce is the very first emotion you will feel. Your mind won’t be ready to accept the divorce and it might even shut down to protect you from intense feelings. The next thing you’ll experience is refusing that the divorce is actually happening and hope that it is a mistake or nightmare and things go back to normal. 

In practical life, this stage might manifest as going about your daily routines in a daze, ignoring legal documents, or not discussing the divorce with friends and family, as if by not acknowledging it, the reality might change.

How to Get Through It:

  • Give yourself permission to feel the shock and disbelief without judgment.
  • Lean on close friends, family, or a therapist who can offer a listening ear and emotional support.
  • Start gathering information about the divorce process to slowly acknowledge the reality of your situation.

2. Anger

As you grasp reality, you will be filled with anger towards the situation, your ex-spouse, and yourself. You’ll instantly notice that you are more irritable and have a short temper over minor issues, staying up overnight thinking about alternative realities and questions. Be realistic and avoid asking yourself “what if” questions because it will only make you more resentful. 

How to Get Through It:

  • Engage in physical activity or hobbies that help release pent-up energy and spend it constructively. 
  • Write how you feel in a journal or speak with a therapist to process your anger healthily.
  • Doesn’t matter whose fault it was, begin the journey of forgiving your ex-partner, not for their sake but for your peace.

3. Bargaining

It is natural to ask yourself how you could have done things differently to save the marriage. You might resort to your faith in hopes of reversing the situation. Most conversations with yourself and your loved ones will be about “if only” and “what if” scenarios. The only way to come out of this stage is to stop the cycle of self-blame and regret.

How to Get Through It:

  • Accept that the past is immutable, and focus on what you can control—your future.
  • Start setting small, achievable goals for yourself to help move your life forward.
  • A therapist can help you work through unresolved feelings and start looking ahead.
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4. Depression

Depression can make every day feel like wading through molasses. You might struggle to get out of bed, find little joy in life, and feel isolated from others. The activities that brought you joy won’t feel enjoyable anymore. You also might lose your appetite, sleep, and energy levels. 

How to Get Through It:

  • Ensure you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active.
  • Reach out to friends and join support groups to keep getting deeper into depression. 
  • Work with a mental health therapist to develop coping strategies and facilitate healing.

5. Acceptance

Just like there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, you will finally accept the divorce and start your journey to move on. You’ll experience a sense of peace or relief that marital struggles are over and you can start life afresh. Planning your future and embracing new opportunities will be exciting and you’ll look forward to it.

How to Get Through It:

  • Accept your new status and start to explore what this means for you.
  • Think about what you want from life now and set goals to achieve it.
  • Be open to new relationships, hobbies, and opportunities that come your way.

Remember, it’s okay to seek help, and it’s okay to admit you’re not okay. With time, support, and self-care, you can and will get through this.
For more divorce-related support and legal advice, visit Sterling Law blog.

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