Up to half of all marriages end in divorce, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. Figuring out how to navigate new financial, social, and emotional territory can be stressful and intimidating. Fortunately, with time, even the most damaging of wounds can heal. Understanding the healing process will help speed up the path to recovery. Here are five ways to help you cope after a devastating divorce:
1. Allow Yourself Time To Grieve.
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is normal to go through each of these stages in varying degrees for many years following a divorce. Divorce is a loss and should be treated as such. Remember that everyone’s style and period of grieving is different. There is no right way to grieve. You may feel intense anger, bitterness, deep shock, rejection, despair, or fear. Allow yourself time to go through each of these stages, and even revisit some of them more than once without feeling guilty for any emotion. In order to achieve acceptance in each of these stages, you must reconcile certain feelings. Through it all, remember that you are a valuable, important, and unique individual with many adventures ahead of you. Your divorce does not define your life or your worth. With effort and determination, you will overcome each stage of grief and experience true happiness again.
2. Create A Network Of Support.
As you adjust to single life, having a group of supportive friends is essential in moving on and finding happiness again. It is important to avoid isolation. Reach out to friends, old and new, and be forward with them about the support that you need. These are people that see you as an individual separate from your spouse. They can be an immense source of strength as you aim to rebuild your life and rediscover yourself. Invite them to your home, the gym, or out to dinner. As you seek out a network of support, avoid individuals who offer unwanted judgment or make you feel that you need to “let things go” instead of allowing yourself time to grieve. Find people who will boost your self-esteem and provide a safe harbor for you to be honest with your emotions.
3. Get Smart With Finances.
Unfortunately, divorce often leads to financial hardships for both parties. Remember that while divorce changes your marital status, it does not change what you are capable of. Financial recovery can be hard work, but you are capable and it is worth it. Establishing a budget and clear financial goals can help you on the path to financial recovery. Evaluate your situation and focus on the essentials first. The essentials are food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Avoid unnecessary spending as you work to establish a new budget with new or decreased income. After your essential needs are met, then you can work to tackle bigger financial hurdles like debt. Establish clear goals for your financial future and see a financial advisor for help if needed.
4. Rediscover Yourself And Find New Passions.
Remember that divorce is not your defining moment. It is merely a snapshot of the filmstrip of your life. There is plenty of time and endless opportunities to change your story. An important part of this process is a rediscovery. What really matters to you? What brings you true joy? If it’s difficult to forgo the feelings of anger or bitterness, start with just ten minutes a day. For just ten minutes, do something special for yourself. Pick anything that brings you joy and concentrate fully on that thing. It can be as simple as reading a book, taking a walk, or enjoying a cup of your favorite beverage. This will eventually segway into finding new passions to treasure and make your own.
5. Be Kind To Yourself.
Allow yourself to be happy despite the harrowing emotions you may feel. You are worth it and you deserve it. As you seek to answer the above question, “What matters to you?”, you will find true purpose and meaning for your life. Setbacks are normal, so be kind to yourself and trust that this process takes time.
Divorce is a major life transition. It can be difficult to navigate your way through life after separating from a spouse. However, by treating it as an opportunity for growth, you can find true happiness again. Let grief takes it’s time, establish a solid network of support, make smart financial decisions, and be kind to yourself as you rediscover who you truly are.