The grieving process during divorceDivorce is the death of a relationship. The strongest emotions that govern people during a divorce are those of grief. Psychologists have addressed grief and have typically defined its stages as:
- Shock: You want a divorce? What, where did this come from?
- Denial: This can’t be happening. She isn’t serious, she’ll come to her senses.
- Anger: How could you do this to me? You may want a divorce, but you are going to pay for it. I don’t care what it costs; he is never going to see his children again.
- Bargaining: If you’ll give me one more chance, I promise I’ll change. Can’t we wait until the children are out of high school?
- Depression: I don’t care, do whatever you want. Take whatever you want; I don’t care if I ever see the children.
- Acceptance: I understand that it’s over. It’s time I made a new life for myself.
Grief disparity in divorcePeople in a divorce progress through the grieving process at different rates. There is a direct correlation between the disparity of the parties’ stages of grief and their ability to negotiate and settle their divorce. The further apart the couple is in the grief process, the more unlikely it is that they will be able to negotiate and reach terms of settlement. Since the only cure for grief is time, the only cure for disparate stages of grief is time. However, sometimes the differences in the stages of grief are more a matter of perception than reality. For example, a wife in the depression stage of grief may not be able to proceed with negotiations until she believes that her husband is also feeling grief. The husband may be horribly hurt but refusing to show it, covering his grief with bluster or an unfeeling facade. In that situation, an expression of true feelings to the spouse may provide a commonality that will allow the couple to deal.
Dealing with anger in divorceAnger is the most visible and pervasive of the stages of grief in a divorce. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Anger is the default position. When anything goes wrong during a divorce, parties typically view the situation as an attack, and the most common response to an attack is anger.
- Anger is infectious. When faced with an angry individual, the most common response is to become angry in defense.
- Anger is a common response to chaos, frustration, and uncertainty.