Lost Is What Was and What Was Yet to Be
Human death is only one of the ‘deaths’ we as individuals get to experience. There are many other losses we experience throughout our lives that mimic death and the ending of a relationship is one of them.
Divorce is absolutely a death. The relationship started as an idea, two people engaged in the idea and gave it life, and the couple ended it – it died! There is very real grief involved in the loss and often one partner feels it more so than the other, they both feel the loss differently depending on whether you we the one leaving or the one left.
The one leaving is generally a little ahead on their grief journey as they pre-grieved the loss as they were likely thinking about it for some time.
The one being left is often surprised by the loss and beings their grief process after the ‘announcement’.
Both grieve the loss just a different times and in different ways.
What is more; the couple are not only grieving the loss of their relationship as it was they are also grieving all future dreams they once had for their lives together. Perhaps trips, vacation times, grandchildren, and retirement – the list can go on. So the loss has two edges and does get messy unless the partners are able to notice all the very different aspects of their grief.
Anger at each other is often a common reaction as the couple step through the initial phase of their ending; resentment, confusion, disbelief and overwhelm also join the grief dance.
Just like the death of a loved one!
So treat your divorce as a death, prepare for the grief; get ready for those notable dates that will trigger more grief; do a ritual or ceremony; bury it. Bring it to an end. Let it die as it once was, especially if the couple has children. Letting it die as it was creates the space necessary for it to be reborn in a new form that will support the co-parenting efforts.
Grief is a normal and natural human response to the end of things, relationship IS one of those things that dies too.