** Please read the copyright statement at the end of this page.
teachers who assign these grief pages in conjunction with book themes,
please see this page.
By the end of March, I will have moved this site
due to the fact that AT&T has just notified me
that it will no longer host web pages.
This gives me no other recourse but to find a new
web hosting service and move all of my web pages.
I am working on a getting a new host and moving
this site as well others.
is a priority. For those of you who continue to
come back to it, and for those of you who have just found this site,
please send me your e-mail address and I will send you a notice of
the new web address as soon as I move. I regret and apologize
for the inconvenience, but this problem seems to be another sign
of our poor economy and AT&T's decision to save money.
As far as my new site, I have no idea how long it will take to be
found by search engines again.
Remember: the bad times will pass...
"The tragedies that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight."
Arthur Christopher Bacon
Grief is something that everyone will experience at one time or another during their lifetime.
If you feel the feelings and work through them, your grief will lessen, and in time, fade. The memories will always remain as sweet memories in the case of a death, or in the case of a divorce, very often bittersweet.
You must accept the reality of your loss. You must talk about the loss until you accept it. The more you talk about it, the more you will realize that the loss is real - that the person is really gone and will not come back.
You must allow yourself to experience the pain of grief. In any loss, you must accept the painful reality and finality of the loss. If you don't, your grief will keep resurfacing throughout your life and interfere with a healthy emotional state of being. You have to feel the pain. You can't avoid the pain. It will hurt. You will feel awful. But this pain must be felt in order for you to work through the pain and heal. If you push the pain away and refuse to feel it, it will fester for years and affect your entire future.
You must learn to adjust to an environment in which the loved one is missing. You have to return to places you went together. You have to spend time in your home without this person. You have to encounter each aspect of your life without that person. It will be hard. You will need to learn new skills and tasks in order to assume responsibility for your own life. You have to learn to function without the person at home and in your everyday life. In other words, you must keep going. You can't withdraw from the world. The first time you go to a place, or experience a holiday without them, or do an activity you shared with your lost love will be the worst. After that, it will get better.
Finally, after you have grieved all you need to grieve, you have to begin to withdraw emotional energy that you are investing in your grieving and the focus you have on your loss, and invest it in new relationships (not necessarily of the opposite sex, and certainly not right away). If, after a reasonable amount of time, you constantly relive your marriage (or your relationship with the person), constantly go over "what I did wrong" and "what I should have done differently", and refuse to try to move on with your life, you are investing too much energy in your grieving. The support and encouragement of a loving family and a good support group is necessary in order to move on with your life. New friends and new interests are important. The time will come when you will have to get on with your life. If you are female and your husband took care of all of the business and you were just a passenger in your lives together, you will need to learn to do the things that he did and you didn't do and don't know how to do. You will have to assume all of the responsibilities, and you can, because you are stronger than you or your spouse gave you credit for being. Acceptance and a determination to live your life fully will refocus your energy in a more positive manner.
Take back your power. Don't let that person keep you weak and dependent upon them. Don't let yourself grieve for too long. We all have the strength to overcome. You can do it. You can make a new and meaningful life for yourself. So, get one with it. As the old cliché goes, "Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life."
** Please read the copyright statement at the end of this page.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross did a great deal of work in the field of grief, and clarified the five stages of grief. Her work was with death, not divorce; however, the principles of grieving are the same. Each and every stage of grief must be passed through and experienced before you can heal. Dr. Kubler-Ross later made it very clear that these stages are not necessary, or usually, experienced in order. In fact, she stated that they usually aren't. Be aware that even though you think you may have worked through a stage, you may suddenly find yourself back in it. This is O.K. It just means that there is something else that needs to be worked through. Let yourself do it.
It is important to remember that grieving is a process. We must emotionally work through each of the grief stages effectively, and we must overcome our fear of grief. It is not a sign of weakness to grieve.
Sometimes progress is like standing still but not going backwards; sometimes it is like one step forward and one step back; sometimes it is two steps forward and only one step back. Eventually you will have more steps forward than back, and finally very few setbacks in your path to becoming normal again.
You must give yourself permission to grieve for as long as necessary. It takes some people longer than others, so don't be hard on yourself if you have to grieve longer than you think you should. Don't let well-meaning people tell you that you can't cry and can't grieve. An old saying is, "When you get sick of tired of being sick and tired, you will do what is necessary in order to heal." When you are ready, you will do your grief work.
These 5 stages were identified by Dr. Kubler-Ross, but some of the comments are my observations. Please be aware that you may pass through each stage more than once, and you may be in more than one stage at a time. There is no particular order in which you will work through these stages. Even when you think you have reached the end, another loss may trigger you back into one of the stages. This is normal, and these
setbacks won't last as long as the original pain did.
Kubler-Ross's work dealt mostly with death. I have
adapted it to also deal with divorce on this page, and the stages have been
rewritten in my own words.
© Linda Saxon Nix
The first reaction to a loss is Denial.
You tell yourself that it isn't happening. You tell yourself that your spouse will come back to you. With a divorce, you think that he / she is just going through a phase or mid-life crisis and will come to their senses. You think that you cannot accept that it is ending, and you refuse to see the obvious signs that it is over for the other person. You think that you can talk or cajole them out of leaving. Sometimes, the main denial was in believing that the marriage a good one in the first place when it really wasn't, and that's why so many people have a hard time accepting divorce. Sometimes comfort in misery seems better than facing the unknown of a divorce.
With a death, you just don't accept it as final. When they are dying, you believe they will get well. You refuse to use the term, "died" or "dead". You say that they have "passed on" or that they have "gone". You don't go to the grave site to view proof of the death. In general, your mind refuses to accept what is happening.
Anger comes as you begin to accept reality.
In a divorce, the frustrations that have existed in the marriage begin to come out. You become angry at the way you were treated, about the settlement offers, about your life that has suddenly changed about the way your spouse lied and deceived you, at the future you expected that will never be. With a death, you become angry at fate, at God, at the doctors, at yourself for not doing enough.
If anger is turned inward (not felt or expressed), one becomes depressed. Anger should be gotten in touch with, expressed properly and dealt with. It is important not to be destructive in your anger, but it is equally important to express your anger.
Expressing anger is a sign that you are beginning to deal with your loss. If anger isn't expressed, it will make you bitter and hamper your recovery. It is important not to bury your anger, and it is important to express all of your anger before you try to forgive that person. Warning - Anger must be expressed appropriately, not recklessly.
Most importantly - do not take your anger out on anyone in an unhealthy manner. Many times immense anger is the cause of a divorce. Expressing your anger over the divorce (or a death) in the wrong way will only do harm to yourself and create an unmanageable relationship with others. It is extremely important to learn to release your anger in healthy ways. Ways of expressing anger properly can be learned in anger management classes and in therapy if you have an anger issue. If you are angry with a person for leaving you, you can learn to express your feelings with the proper dialogue methods, you can do a lot of journalizing to express your anger, you can go out in the middle of the woods, roll the windows up on your car so nobody can hear you and and scream, cuss,yell and get the anger out until you have no more energy to do so (be sure you don't have a bad heart or area risk for a stroke before you do this), or you can take a baseball bat or a tennis racket and beat a pillow all to pieces. Express your anger in such a way that you do not harm yourself or anyone else, and in such a way that you do not totally alienate anyone with your actions. You can also write letters to the other person and express the anger in any way you wish, but you should not give the letter to the other person. It is merely a way to release your anger.
Bargaining is trying to get them back.
With death, the bargaining comes before the death. You promise anything if God will just let them live.
With divorce, you promise the person you will change; you will do anything they want if he or she won't leave. You make elaborate plans for what you both can do to make it better. You make those plans when the person who wants to leave doesn't want to get back together. You grovel, you cry, you beg, you insist there aren't any problems, you don't accept their reasons for wanting to leave as valid. Sometimes people compromise their values and beliefs to try to keep a person from leaving. Sometimes a couple will get back together and try again when one spouse is so insistent that they try again, but the other is just going through the motions to try to make it easier on the one being left. Very few marriages make it after it has gotten this far because the real issues of the discontent aren't dealt with, unresolved problems are not solved, unhealthy patterns have become ingrained, and usually one person is very unhappy with the marriage.
Reaching the bargaining stage shows that you have begun to face the fact that the relationship is ending. You are past the denial stage. This is a necessary stage, and it helps you to look at what caused the problems in the first place.
Depression is an inevitable part of loss.
It comes during the anger stage, and the bargaining stage, and in the letting go stage. It can come at any stage, actually. It is characterized by many of the symptoms listed in the Symptoms of Grief. Depression is normal. It may last longer in some people than in others. Emotionally healthy people won't be depressed as long as emotionally unhealthy people or people who came from dysfunctional homes who haven't dealt with childhood issues. It is perfectly okay to seek help from a physician and take antidepressants for a time until you are better able to handle your grief. If you feel that your depression is lasting too long, you may benefit from the help of a therapist. Never be ashamed of taking medication or seeking professional help when you are grieving. Never be ashamed at seeking professional help. When you no longer need the antidepressants, you will know and end your treatment under your doctor's guidance. During the depression phase, you will cry a lot. Crying is normal, and tears are healing. Let yourself cry when you feel like it. If you cry constantly, everywhere, and it goes on for months and months, you probably need to seek medical help. Antidepressants will help you deal with severe grief.
Acceptance means that you have reached the final stage.
When you have worked through all of the other stages, you will come to acceptance. You accept that everything happens for a reason. You may not see why yet, but you accept that it happened. You will see that you were married to this person for a time for a reason, but that it is now over. You will realize that it is final, and you are ready to get on with your life. In a divorce, you will come to realize that everything happened for the best, and that your life does have meaning. You will begin to feel free from the pain and the hurt. You will be finished with your grieving. You are ready to move on to a new life and let the other life remain in the past. You will be able to remember the good as well as the bad.
With a death, you accept it as what was meant to be - it was their time in the whole scheme of things. You accept death as an inevitable part of life. You will always love and miss that person, but you realize that you are alive, and you have to go on living and make a new life for yourself without that person.
With a divorce, you realize that they just aren't coming back - the marriage is definitely over. You stop trying to bargain, cajole, and beg; you accept the inevitable, which is that you are going to have to get on with your life and make the best of it. Usually, if you do your grief work and work on yourself, you will end up with a better life than the one you had when you were married to the person you lost. Remember: Divorce never happens in a good marriage. Even if you thought it was good, the person who left you isn't the person you needed to be with or they wouldn't have left you and caused you so much pain.
** Please read the copyright statement at the end of this page.
There are a few more stages that you might go through, so be aware that they are also a natural and normal part of grieving.
- Shock and Numbness
- During this phase you don't register any feelings. You know it has happened intellectually, yet emotionally it hasn't registered yet. You go about your daily routines and tasks like a robot, showing very little emotion for days, or maybe a few weeks. You may even wonder why you aren't feeling bad yet. You aren't able to cry much, or any.
- It is important to recognize this as a stage, too. It is normal and natural to feel guilty, both for things you did, and for things you didn't do. Don't beat yourself up too much. Everyone makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect. It takes two to make a marriage, and it takes two to break it up, although in some marriages the reasons are more obvious in some than in others, and the fault is more clearly one person's than the other's. Even if you didn't cause the breakup, you will feel guilty. Guilt is felt more by the person who leaves the marriage, although the other person feels guilty about what they think they did to chase their spouse away. With death, you may feel guilty that you didn't do as much as you could have for the person, or that it wasn't you who died. You may feel guilty for things you said in anger, or for things that you could have said but didn't. Those things are a part of life, and nobody is perfect. Just remember that you did the best you could do at the time.
- Letting Go
- Letting Go is the beginning of the end. When the bargaining has failed, and you realize they are gone, you have to learn to let go. This isn't easy, but it must be done in your own time. You enter a different type of depression which makes you feel that your life is over. You wonder about you are worth, what you are here for, what will you do with the rest of your life. You feel all alone and think you will be alone for the rest of your life. This is a dangerous stage in which some people tend to give up, or even contemplate suicide. It is important to remember that you will get past this. Just knowing about this stage helps. You can be prepared by knowing that this is a typical stage, and that you will pass through it. It is a necessary stage. If you don't let go, you will hold on to an unrealistic dream for the rest of you life.
With a death, you have to realize that the person is really gone and will never come back, and that nothing can change that fact.
- Forgiveness is a necessary part of healing. It is also a process. You can make up your mind that you need to forgive, but it sometimes isn't easy and it may take quite a while to completely forgive the other person. Don't try to forgive too soon in your grief process. You have go go through the anger and the guilt and work through both thoroughly before you can forgive. You have to forgive both yourself and your spouse in order to heal. You have to forgive in order for you to heal. Do it for yourself, not for the other person. Forgiveness is very freeing, and it is necessary in order for you to get on with your life without carrying nasty baggage with you.
How We Deal with Grief
Remember, each person grieves in his own way and in his own time. You will let go and accept your loss when you have worked through all of the phases of grief and dealt with each as long as you needed to. Don't let other people tell you, "It's time to stop grieving and get on with your life." Give yourself time, but don't expect time alone to heal. You have to do a lot of work. Read books, talk to people who understand, go to recovery programs, enter therapy, counsel with your minister, or do whatever you can to heal.
You will be whole again one day.
Also, remember that each time you suffer a loss, whether it be large or small, whether it be a person or a thing (such as a job or a house lost to a fire), it will trigger feelings that will bring back all of the feelings and memories of all of your other losses. You may not consciously think about them, but the feelings will be there. The grief may return momentarily, or last a few days (or longer) depending upon the nature of the grief. Go back and do the grief work again so that the loss is properly grieved.
A Word About Suicide
Suicide is a permanent act, and is not a solution to your grief. You must remember that no matter now bad it gets, no matter now desolate, lonely, sad, miserable or lost you feel, it will get better. If you think that you cannot live without your loved one, you need to seek help. Being a martyr and ending your own life to be with the person who died (like in "Romeo and Juliet"), or to prove to the person who left you that you can't live without them is messed up, screwed up thinking. Every person who is born has a purpose for their life. It is not up to you to end yours. Even if you think that your life is worthless, you will be missed, and your suicide will affect those who know and love you. It will affect those who don't know you who would know and be positively affected by you in the future had you lived. You have to live out your reason for being. You never know whose life you will touch, and you may never know the difference you make in another person's life, but you will make a difference to someone.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, if you think life is no longer worth living, if you think that your life is meaningless, please talk to someone. Don't keep your feelings to yourself. Seek help.
Death is inevitable for everyone, but we should live our life to its natural death. It is not our right to end it prematurely.
First of all, no man or woman who leaves you through divorce is worth it. You will eventually live a better life than the one you had with them, anyway. Secondly, if your loved one dies, they would not want you to grieve for them forever or to end your life for them. They would want you to live out your life as it was planned. They are happy now; they are not suffering. Struggle through your grief and emerge on the other side of it ready to live your life to its fullest and be who you were meant to be.
You will emerge from your grief and be happy again. Trust the Process.
There is a time to move on, out of our grief and back into life.
Here is a quote to keep in mind:
"The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person
who is with s our entire life is ourselves. LIVE while you are alive."
There is a Bible passage that reads:
To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Into everyone's life, if they live long enough, will come their fair share of pain and loss and grief. Loss happens to everyone. It is not selective of age, race, creed, color, size, education, economic and social status, religion, or beauty. It is a guarantee that comes with living.
It is part of life. Part of living is feeling joy as well as pain. It is through feeling pain that we learn to truly appreciate and embrace the joy in our lives.
Thus, into everyone's life will come joy and laughter and dancing.
It is because of our pain that we can appreciate and embrace the joy.
Divorce recovery teaches that when you get tired of being sick and tired, you will reach the point where you decide to do something about getting out of the bottomless pit that you have been in. With a divorce, there comes a time, after you have done the proper amount of grieving, when you have to quit wallowing in your pain and get up and get back to your life. You have to reach the point where you have grieved all that you can and must, and you start a new life. You have a forge forward with a new life without that previous partner.
The other person has done that, probably long before you did.
When you have reached this point, you will know it. You will be ready to move on.
With death, you will grieve for them, and you will mourn. It is the natural and right thing to do. Your grief process is as unique and as individual as you are. You will grieve in your own way, and you cannot expect everyone else to conform to your expectations of grief. Nor should anyone else presume to tell you how you should grieve or how long you should mourn or how you should feel. Eventually, you will come to realize that you have grieved long enough, and that you are alive, and that your deceased loved one would not want you to mourn forever. They are off this plane of life and have moved on to a much higher plane.
It is up to us to live our own lives until it is our time to go. Death is a natural part of the phases of life, the part of a plan that we are not always meant to understand but must accept. The great ones die as well as the common man. Nobody is immortal. No matter how hurt we are, or how hard it is at first to accept that we have lost our loved one, we have to somehow come to accept that it was that person's time to go in the grand scheme of things. We owe it to ourselves to move on by continuing our lives until it is our time to go. Nobody said it will be easy, but the time will come when we will let go and move on. We can and will find happiness and fulfillment if we do our grieving and then work hard to move on with our lives. It is up to us to fulfill our destiny.
More of My Divorce Recovery Links:
For Your Life"
Serenity and Peace"
of Serenity and Peace"
I Save My Marriage?"
A Season or a Lifetime"
"B. E. (The
What happens in real life isn't what we expect
Some "tidbits" to make you think about your life.
||Let Them Go
When people want to leave, let them go.
Children and Death
Back To My Main Divorce Recovery Page
Other links to help you deal with the death of a loved one:
AARP Grief and Loss
Credits and suggested books to help you with your recovery:
- Fisher, Bruce. Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends. Impact Publishers, 1990. (Recommended for those going through a divorce.)
- Wegscheider-Cruse, Sharon. Learning to Love Yourself. Health Communications, Inc., 1987.
- Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. Collier Books, 1993.
Much gratitude goes to Dr. Kubler-Ross for her pioneering work with grief.
This page was created May 24, 1998.
Updated July 12, 2006
Updated December 16, 2006
August 11, 2008
Dr. Kubler-Ross is credited for her original stages of grief written in her own words. These stages can be found on the Internet and in her book.
Contents of this page ( including text and angel photo), with the exception of the background leaf set and the painting at the top, were created by Linda S. Nix and are Copyrighted 2000-2010.
No part of this page's original composition can be copied, downloaded, reproduced, printed, placed on another web site or otherwise published in any medium without explicit written permission.
Contents protected by United States Copyright Laws.
Copyright 1995 - 20010by Linda S. Nix
Credit for some content is given in the "Suggested Books" list.
Angel Photo Copyrighted 2006 - Not in public domain.