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Divorce: The Grief Process

February 25, 2011

Divorce is said to be the second hardest life event you will ever face.  I contend it is the hardest! 

Whether you are Spouse A, the one who is initiating the divorce, or Spouse B, the one who is told by your spouse they don’t want to be married anymore,  it is a very difficult time in your life.  Each of you will be going through a grief process but not in the same way and not at the same time.

The 5 stages of grief include:

  1. Shock
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance 

Spouse A may travel all the way through these stages and be in acceptance before Spouse B even begins the process.

Spouse B may even think the marriage is getting better when their spouse arrives in acceptance because at that point Spouse A has resigned themselves to the fact the marriage if over and they often give up the fight and try and find ways to make it easier to exit the marriage. 

Spouse B is just about to start on the journey when they are told their spouse wants out of the marriage.  First comes the shock, then anger, then bargaining, then depression or sadness, and finally acceptance at some point.

If you are Spouse A, have patience and let your Spouse go through the grief process in their own way.  Often times, Spouse A wants Spouse B to hurry up and catch up.  “I am accepting this is over, why can’t you?”  Give them time.   You have probably been thinking and working through this for months if not years. 

If you are Spouse B, know that things happen for a reason.  It isn’t easy to know what that reason is when you are in the Shock and Anger stages.   The reasons may not become apparent for years later but someday you will have clarity.

Whether you are Spouse A or Spouse B, don’t get wrapped up in the adversarial process and work against each other.  This is not a win/lose process.  You need to work together on a plan that works for each of you independently.   Interview a number of Mediators to find one that you can work with.   Just like attorneys, there are good and not so good mediators.

If you have children you will always be connected as parents.  Find a way to move from a marriage partnership to a parenting partnership.  You will be glad you did.

If I can be of any help, please contact me at


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