Melanie Cohn, LMSW
32841 Middlebelt Rd, Suite 409
Farmington Hills, MI 48334

Stages of Emotions

Stages of Emotions - Divorce - Able 2 Relate - inf11While each person's experience may differ, the stages of emotions in divorce are similar to the stages you go through when dealing with a death or significant loss. As discussed in the book "Life After Divorce", whether you are the "leaver" or the "left", you will have to deal with these feelings.

You may experience them the day your spouse tells you he/she wants a divorce or it might happen six months later. Everyone's experience is unique.

But it will happen! 

In many ways, the emotions we feel going through a divorce is similar to dealing with a death or significant loss in our lives. Each counselor may refer to it by different names, but, like any adjustment there are 3 stages you will go through and the feelings involved are similar.
The most common stages of emotions are: shock,denial, anger,sadness, and finally acceptance

The Beginning Stage 

The beginning stage is usually mired in feelings of shock and denial. The"leavers" often report feeling liberated and free as their new single status emerges. They may go through a period of excessive "partying" and going out all the time as they now have no one to report to. The "left" may do the same to try and bolster their greatly damaged self-esteem. This period never lasts long.

At the same time you will be filled with overwhelming feelings of confusion and chaos as you begin to deal with dividing your possessions, finances, deciding where to live and figuring out a plan for child support and visitation.

You will probably slide in and out of feelings of anger and sadness as you are trying to cope with these major decisions and become more aware that your marriage is ending.

And don't expect to neatly step from one stage into another. There is no clear cut way to get through it. You may still be in shock while feeling immense anger. Most people will have mixed feelings such as anger and depression at the same time.

Some intense sadness is completely normal while going through a divorce, but if you are feeling extremely depressed please go see a professional counselor for help. 

The Middle Stage 

The middle stage is characterized as the "Adjustment Period". During this time you will be winding down on getting your affairs in order, establishing a new residency and developing a new family pattern of working together.

Your identity as a "single" person will begin to establish itself as you start developing friendships with others who have a similar lifestyle.

Again you will probably experience a range of emotions, from hurt, pain, sadness and remorse, to hope and excitement for the future. As I have said, these stages of emotions in divorce are always different for each person and unique in their length of time. 

The Ending Stage 

If all goes as well as possible, and you are able to identify, acknowledge and deal with your feelings as they come up, you will get to the ending stage of the divorce process.

This is your time of personal healing and growth. This is the time to establish your self-worth and build strong support networks and new relationships.

If you have done all your emotional work(if you need to, find the help of a good counselor) then you will be able to look back on your marriage with good memories and understand the pain and difficulties were there for a reason. If you get to this stage you know you made it through! 

Stages of emotions: What to expect and when 

There are no hard and fast rules on a time table for when you "get over"your divorce. But generally speaking, it can take up to 2 years to dig yourself out from the emotional turmoil, and get back on your feet emotionally, financially, and physically.

The stages of emotions vary from person to person, you may skip some stages and linger in others. The most important thing is to let yourself feel whatever it is you feel, so you can move on from it. And remember, if you do not feel you are working through difficult feelings, find a caring therapist to help.

You may find yourself on an emotional roller coaster during the initial stages of divorce. You may find yourself struggling with feelings of pain, guilt, remorse, anger, anxiety and fear. This is perfectly normal so don't despair. The most important thing is to acknowledge you have these emotions and face them directly so you can deal with them. RememberYOU CANNOT HEAL WHAT YOU DON'T DEAL WITH! If you can do this on your own great, if you are feeling stuck, find a therapist to help guide you through it. 

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