Managing sneaky divorce grief and sadness? Try these tools!
Divorce grief and sadness are sneaky, we kind of know the times when we may feel either or both; like when you drop your children off at their other parents; or say goodbye after a holiday. I am not sure they ever go... I was caught out the other day after I dropped off my son at his University this week.
Definitely unexpected emotions! He has been around a bit this summer, we've been like ships in the night, but coming back home knowing he wasn't there was an invitation and opportunity for the sneaky grief and sadness to strike. Of course, it is natural, you are human, this is what makes us so different to the rest of this planet's inhabitants including those married friends, thinking if only and we wish (or maybe not :))!
However, divorce grief is called a living grief in that despite how you may feel at times, there will always be those little, but still tough reminders (especially if you have children) of what you had perhaps had dreams of and had to a lesser or greater degree, that you are now mourning the loss of that are always going to be there in your life going forwards.
So if you are feeling grief, no matter to what degree through your divorce (or beyond); it may be when you stick your nose out into the outside world at the weekend; or coming back to an empty house after drop off; or taking them back to school, or university wherever it is take a look below at the tools and try them.
It may also be on returning to work and hearing about what the other families got up to; the complaints and talk of bickering of couples still together; of couples being asked out by other couples; or having a partner push a heavy shopping trolley; pop down the shops as you've forgotten something or put up a picture, cook supper or create a cosy, snug home.
All of these and there are many more examples which are all valid and felt by you in your lived experience of grief in your separation and divorce (and felt by others too). You may want to add yours to the comments. So here are some useful tools to use when you are experiencing it, especially the sneaky unexpected kind of grief and sadness when they are making themselves known:
The 'Grief 20 mins' - what I suggest to my clients is that they do 'grief' for about 20 minutes. Book out time for a Grief 20 minutes. Give yourself PERMISSION to just sit there and just imagine all that lovely stuff that you've been doing with your children, all the stuff you are going to miss, not have moving forward and cry so you really feel it. If more tears need to come out let them, cry for loss, missed opportunities and let yourself truly be with this emotion. Be prepared for, when you plan to do 'grief' is that it invariably refuses to come up, but giving it an opportunity to come out is better than not, and instead sweeping it under the carpet for that day when it all comes out for it to surprise you.
Face it head-on, to keep it less heavy and perhaps if you can, a little comedic (not taking anything away but keeping it light) by saying eg "hi grief how are you doing? I see you are back, that was quick..." get used to the fact that it is around, it becomes less of a shock and overwhelming when it does make an appearance. When we ACCEPT that grief is about, we are better able to get more comfortable with it.
You may want to say - if you are having a 'sad' day "I am doing sadness that the kids aren't here", in this way it can feel less permanent and you feel you have some CONTROL over it - which is a good thing if you are this way inclined! Rather than you saying to yourself "I'm really sad the kids aren't here" which isn't wrong, however, prolonged periods of saying this to yourself over and over again is digging that sadness neural pathway deeper. It's a bit like someone saying "My back hurts", - is that all of your back or just a part of it?... Identifying that it is a smaller part makes it feel less big for your mind monkeys to chew over.
Journal the heck out of what you are feeling, scribble, write freely, even if it feels like nonsense, just get it out on paper, cry if you want to. Get into the habit of journalling in bed, before you go to sleep so it's all in your journal rather than in your head. A good clear-out always helps you sleep, believe me, as I said in my book my tear-stained notebooks are a testament to this! Lastly, don't forget to think of three things that you are grateful for to fill that space and for your mind to not be fretting over while you sleep.
Divorce grief and sadness is part of the process and the more you are able to 'lean in' rather than lean away from feeling these emotions the less they will impact you going forward, eg catch you off guard, and may even spoil a planned 'children-free' dad or mum night out when you are most looking forward to it. Welcome grief and sadness in, you could just be pleasantly surprised that you did.
If you are struggling and would like a 20min clarity call with me to see how I work, we look at where you are at and whether we are a good fit to work together moving forward, book in here, or if you are a company exploring the options of divorce support training, workshops and courses in the workplace here is a link to book a workplace clarity call.
There's more on managing grief in my book Kindness for Conflict - a Guide to Separation and Divorce and there are lots of thoughts and tips on the Divorce Goddess podcast available to listen to on all major platforms such as:
And if you are not signed up to my monthly newsletter you can do so here where you get more tips, early bird offers on courses and news on upcoming events.