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Ending Your Marriage: The Stages Of Grief From Divorce

Posted on September 7th, 2022
A woman crying on her couch.

Most people associate grief with death; however, divorce is one of the most difficult grieving processes that a person can experience. Although the life of their loved one has not been lost, the life that they knew and loved has been.

Nobody gets married with the idea of divorce in mind. So, when you come to that scary realization that your only option is divorce, how can you cope? Believe it or not, going through a divorce has got a similar grieving pattern to that of losing a loved one. Just like the five stages of grief that Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified in her book “On Death and Dying”, there are stages of grief within each divorce journey.

The Kübler-Ross stages of grief include:

  • Shock/disbelief and denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining and guilt
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Many people believe that there are actually seven stages of grief, and at Naked Divorce, we are more inclined to believe that there are, in fact, 10 stages of grief in the divorce process, and we’re going to go through what to expect in each one below.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you may experience each stage more than once and that they don’t always happen in a linear pattern. Every individual experiences grief in their own way.

  1. Denial

Denial is an inevitable stage of the divorce grief cycle, whether you are seeking the divorce or your partner is.

The obvious denial comes in the form of the initial shock when you find out that your loved one wants to end your marriage. It’s only natural to try and avoid the process; they deny that the marriage is in trouble and will take a head-in-the-sand approach.

There can still be denial if you’re the one that is asking for a divorce. For example, this could come in the form of denying that your spouse was unfaithful and starting to doubt whether the divorce really needs to happen.

  1. Anger and Betrayal

Anger is a common stage of divorce and one that you’re likely to experience more than once during your divorce journey. This is when you start to think, “How could they do this to me?”

The feeling of betrayal often accompanies any stage of anger during a divorce. You will feel like your ex has betrayed your trust and your relationship. Of course, the feeling of betrayal is bound to be more prominent in a divorce where infidelity is at the heart of the problem.

  1. Panic and Negotiation

This is the stage where you will do everything in your power to try and stop your spouse from going through with the divorce. You try and make deals and bargain with them in an attempt to change the situation.

This is the stage in which sentences like “I promise to change if you stay,” “I’ll lose weight for you, I promise.” And so on.

  1. Humiliation, Fear of Failure, or Looking Bad

Self-depreciation is the name of the game at this point. This is when you don’t feel like going into public; you’d rather shop online than be seen by anyone. You avoid seeing your friends and family; you feel humiliated by your partner leaving, and so on.

Much of this stage of divorce has little to do with the person going through the divorce and more to do with the societal stigma attached to divorce.

  1. Despair

This is when you start to realize that divorce is inevitable and that there is nothing that you can do to change it. You are strapped into the divorce rollercoaster, and you’re not able to get off of it until the ride is done.

This feels a lot like dread.

  1. Loss, Grief, and Depression

This is when you start to fully surrender yourself to grieving your marriage. You may feel completely fine, and you’re on the road to recovery, and all of a sudden, you’re in floods of tears. You might not feel like leaving your bed, and you have no appetite.

Depression is different in everyone, and it’s another stage that can hang around for a really long time in some people. Divorce is a major loss, and it’s important to seek professional help if you feel like your loneliness and sadness are spiraling out of control.

  1. Space and Nothingness

This is the stage that comes after a complete emotional rollercoaster. You have probably spent months or weeks grieving and crying about the loss of your marriage. Then all of a sudden, that pain numbs, and your bottomless well of tears seems to have dried up.

This is an uncomfortable stage of the grieving process, as you are bound to be worried about being emotionless – but it’s completely natural.

  1. Acceptance

You start to look back on your relationship and realize that maybe it wasn’t everything that you built it up to be in your head. The divorce is happening or has already happened, and you’re starting to accept that it’s probably for the best.

  1. Responsibility and Forgiveness

This is where you begin to admit that you played a part in the breakdown of your marriage. You take responsibility for the part that you played in the divorce journey.

You also accept that everyone makes mistakes, and you learn to start forgiving yourself and your ex for the actions that led you down the divorce road.

  1. Gratitude

The last step in the ten stages of divorce is a hugely important one. This is when you truly begin to heal all of your wounds. This is when you can look back on your marriage and your divorce and take in the negatives and the positives and appreciate what you learned from the experience.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help

It’s important that you don’t try and tackle the divorce journey on your own. At the very least, you should accept help from friends and family to get you through. If, however, you think you will need more support, it’s important to reach out for professional help.

At Naked Divorce, we have divorce programs and retreats that have been created around helping you navigate the divorce grief life cycle in a healthy way.

Get in touch with Naked Divorce if you need support on your divorce journey.

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With you in service,
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