How to Understand The Emotional Stages of Divorce

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In the book "Death and Dying," Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages can also be applied to a divorce, but you may not move through them in smooth succession. People going through divorces may switch from one emotional state to another daily, but the process is necessary for your overall recovery. The process can apply whether you're the initiating party or not.

Step 1

Understand your feelings of denial. This is a coping mechanism before you come to the realization that the marriage is over. It is a way of not facing reality until you're ready to confront the dissolution. This may set in after counseling fails.

Step 2

Realize that the next stage, anger, means you're progressing through the crisis. Talk to your former partner to get these feelings off your chest. Deal with it instead of suppressing it. If you hold onto it, the emotion will turn inward later, causing depression.

Step 3

Understand the bargaining stage, when you will have feelings of wanting to fix the damage that has occurred in your life. You'll feel a need to negotiate out of your emotional state and perhaps have desires to reconcile. You'll want to stop the divorce process. Getting back together, however, can only occur if your spouse comes forward and expresses similar sentiments.

Step 4

Be prepared to deal with depression. You may feel that the breakup was your fault and you are not worthy of a better life. Depression is an illness that can last you the rest of your life if it sucks you in. So if you are feeling depressed, talk to a psychologist or trusted friends. Depression is to blame for many negative thoughts that you don't deserve. Do not let the depression stage define who you are.

Step 5

See the light at the end of the tunnel with the acceptance stage. This is when you accept that the divorce has happened and you are ready to move forward with your life. The time it takes to reach this stage is different for different people. But you'll know it has arrived when grief no longer controls your thoughts.