This week in our DivorceCare group, we talked a lot about the profound sadness and depression that seems to be a natural bi-product of divorce. We attribute it to the losses we suffer as a marraige splits apart. It’s not just the marraige that we lose, the relationship, the partner. It’s the plans and dreams, relatives, and friends that we shared. It’s the traditions, the time with kids, professional or social status, just having someone to bounce ideas off of. Each one unseen until we find ourselves face-to-face with it. For instance, if I used to take my niece to a park and get ice cream, and now it’s summer, the kids are on the loose, and I just drove by that park. Now it hits me. We can’t go. She’s not my niece anymore. What does that make her? My ex-niece? So a child is pulled away from her favorite aunt, and we’ve lost the tradition we started. Ouch.
That’s just one example, but as we move through the weeks and months following our separation, the extent of those tiny losses starts to sink in. Friends we shared choose sides. Favorite restaurants aren’t so appetizing anymore. Vacations to the lake change to someplace new. The dreams for the future die. As a result, we are hit with intense sadness. There’s no death to warrant laying it all to rest, but the losses have to be mourned just the same. Grief starts to sink in, in it’s own sneaky way, and because this is divorce, not a death, the expectations are different. We’re expected to show up for work, perform like we always did, remember everything we’re supposed to, and go on with our life. It’s just not that simple. No one facing significant losses can skip over grief. Period . It has to be processed. We have to heal. If we try to cover it up, numb the pain, or brush it off and ignore it, guess what? It’s going to come back, and probably not when it’s particularly convenient.
“Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down with me.” – Lamentation 3:20 NASB
The amount of time it takes to process our grief, and recover from the losses is unique to our experience. If we’ve suffered other losses, and are still healing from those, the recovery from our divorce could take a bit longer and directly effect our level of pain. So, our pain varies as much as our stories.
Let’s take a deep breath and try something new. This recommended activity comes from the DivorceCare Devotional, and I like it. It gives us a place to start recovery from.
- Think of past losses: friends, jobs, pets, other relationships, family members.
- Write down these losses and read them out loud. One by One.
- Now think of the current losses: daily helper, financial support, status, time with kids, cook, housekeeper, driver, bill-payer, lover, friend, partner. Get specific!
- Now read your current losses out loud, too.
Speaking them out loud might feel silly, but it will help us to recognize, and even respect, what we have lost. That acknowledgement is an important step in the recovery process, and will help us move toward healing more quickly. These things were once important to us, things we loved, maybe still love, and were a part of our daily life. This gives us a chance to mourn the losses, and say good-bye. That will bring closure, and with closure we can begin to see beyond the losses, the sadness, and the pain.
You are not alone. Others have recovered from divorce, and so will you. If you’ve found a way to manage your pain that was helpful (and healthy), will you tell us about it? It’s in our struggles that we really come to know God and know ourselves.
Your story can bring hope to someone today.
What is it you’re facing? Nobody goes into battle alone. We can stand with you. Let us know in the comments below how we can pray for you, or by submitting your story.