What’s Grief Got to do with Divorce?

June 14, 2023

Many people often immediately associate grief with the loss of life.  It’s as if the word grief can only pertain to the worst loss that we can think of.  As a society, we often shun grief as if it’s transmissible like an illness that we don’t want to catch.  We often don’t know what to say or do for someone who’s experiencing grief, and so we send cards and flowers and food to try to make it better for them in some small way. Grief is taboo.

Recognizing the Signs of Grief

The truth is that grief can be the loss of anything at all – jobs, health, a pet, a house, or a relationship.  Listen, you can experience loss when you rip your favorite pair of jeans.  If we struggle to accept grief on its most intense level, can you guess how we accept grief on a less intense level, such as the loss of a pet or a house?  Of a relationship? 

Grief can even be the loss of hope.  As human beings, we love to fantasize.  In your marital relationship, you may have had high hopes of retirement, travel, and sharing experiences with your soon to be ex-spouse.  You may have dreamt about adding an addition to your home or visiting your kids together at college – or their weddings, or the birth of your grandchild.  It is natural to spend time thinking about your future, and the hope that you have about it.  Grief can permeate into the loss of those things that you hoped for, that you fantasized about.

Grief is sneaky and may come upon you in the smallest of places, like when you notice your spouse’s shampoo when wandering down the aisles of the grocery store or when hear a song that you once shared the love of together – of all places, somewhere like the dentist’s office.  You are just living life, and there you have it, a puddle of tears.

How to Cope with Grief 

The trickiest thing about grief is that there’s no way around it.  There is only through it. You may attempt to ignore it.  You may try your hardest to brush it under the rug.  You may even try to busy it away.  Your attempts will be futile.  It’ll wait.  It’s patient.  

Grief demands acceptance.  Human beings in grief are not a monolith; we don’t all grieve in the same manner.  Your grief demands to be understood, honored, and accepted.  While it may be easier said than done, learning to spend time with your grief will allow you to understand how to move forward.  

In divorce, moving forward becomes essential.  In order to trudge your way through your divorce and all of the things that come with it, it is necessary to be able to start to hope for the future and to redefine the rest of your new, post-divorce life.  Grief is an intricate part of divorce in that it stands directly in the way of moving forward.  Remember, there is no way around.  Only through.

Sandra Elder, MS NCC LPC

I believe in providing a safe environment where people can explore their feelings, fears, and concerns. Ending a relationship with a loved one may create a multitude of emotions and anxieties. As your divorce coach, I am here to help you through the process of restructuring your family. My extensive training and experience in high conflict families aids my ability to help you and your family through the process of separation and divorce in the most effectual manner possible.

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Co-Owner of Huntingdon Valley Wellness LLC, located in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. I have been working with children, adults, and families for over fifteen years. My experience includes working with: trauma, families in crisis, divorce/separation, parenting, co-parenting, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and stress management.