I know when you are going through a divorce that the roller-coaster ride can ‘feel’ very extreme. It alternates between activity and passivity in the very human and desperate efforts to avoid the change triggered by the divorce.
The initial state before the cycle begins is often quite stable, at least in terms of the subsequent reaction on hearing the bad news. Compared with the ups and downs to come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a stable state.
And then, into the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts. The cycle runs as follows:
The Naked Divorce Grieving Cycle
Anger and Betrayal
Panic and Negotiation
Humiliation, Fear of Failure or Looking Bad
Loss, Grief and Depression
Space & Nothingness
Responsibility and Forgiveness
Let me explain the stages in a little more detail. There is the initial ‘Shock’ stage which is an initial paralysis at hearing the bad news of the break up, this is followed by…
Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable
Anger and Betrayal stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion
Panic and Negotiation stage: Seeking in vain for a way out. Making deals with ex
Humiliation, Fear of Failure or Looking Bad stage: gradually sinking into a spiral, feeling embarrassed and avoiding seeing people
Despair stage: Realization that something horrible is coming and you are strapped into the rollercoaster with nothing you can do
Loss, Grief and Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable, surrendering to the grief
Space & Nothingness stage: Once you have grieved and grieved, experiencing loss and pain. There is a feeling of ‘nothingness’ – where you cannot cry anymore
Acceptance stage: Seeking realistic solutions and finally finding the way forward
Responsibility and Forgiveness stage: Taking responsibility for where you may have been responsible for the relationship not working out. Forgiving your ex and yourself for any failings you feel happened during the relationship
Gratitude stage: Transformational experience – learning from your divorce and seeing positives and negatives from the whole experience
Sometimes just understanding WHERE you are and that it is a process and that you will get through it, really helps. The important thing to keep in mind is that although the graph looks linear – you will bounce between the first 6 ‘stages’ many times.