The grief of divorce shouldn't be hurried or glossed over. The pain and rearrangement of life that comes with divorce is devastating, and working through all of it can take longer than one would imagine. It's much more than a broken relationship; it's a complete life change.
The best thing to do when going through a divorce is to allow yourself the time and space to grieve. Real grieving is a transforming process that allows you to feel the full weight of what’s happened, but also makes room for healing and sets the stage for creating a hopeful future.
Meditate on Scripture
Focusing on Scripture and talking to God helps tremendously. Knowing that God is in control - no matter how terrible the situation feels - and that He can help you through whatever you're experiencing provides a sense of peace and comfort.
The Bible is filled with verses and stories that show God's redemptive work, His never-changing, never-ending love for His children, and His hope-filled promises. Here are just a few.
"Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. God even knows how many hairs are on your head. So don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows."
"My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need."
"Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success."
"Lord, you have examined me and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
You know my thoughts before I think them.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
You know everything I do.
Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it.
You are all around me—in front and in back—and have put your hand on me.
Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea, even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.
I could say, 'The darkness will hide me.
Let the light around me turn into night.'
But even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night is as light as the day; darkness and light are the same to you.
You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body.
I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know this very well.
You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body.
When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed.
All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old."
Move on with your life . . . when you're ready
There are an endless amount of emotions to work through: resentment, bitterness, anger, sadness, worthlessness, and many more. They manifest themselves in different ways and at different times. Sometimes it's hard to predict which emotion will rear its head. In addition to such raw emotions, there are regular readjustments that have to happen in order to accommodate such a major shift. Moving on from the life you knew doesn't happen overnight and you can't buy a manual to guide you through it.
A few of the things that need to be worked through include:
- Facing the world and not feeling defeated or inferior
- Pushing through the pain and sadness of not seeing your children every day
- Moving out of your home, then finding a new place that you can afford on your own income solely (in some cases, with the addition of alimony and/or child support)
- Learning how to do the things your former spouse always did when you were together (i.e. fixing things that break, taking the car to get an oil change, mowing the lawn, paying the bills, etc.)
- Understanding that your worth is not dictated by how your ex-spouse views you
- Grasping the fact that you don't need to be married in order to be a whole person
- Believing that God is in control and will help you through even the darkest hours
Prepare yourself mentally for unwelcome and awkward experiences. Some of those experiences will be:
- Learning that your ex is dating someone
- Finding out that your ex is engaged and processing the fact that your children will have another "parent" figure in their life
- Discovering that your ex is expecting a child
- Accepting that your children will have new siblings
- Acknowledging that your children have a life outside of your home that involves, in essence, another family.
To help you move on, talk about your feelings, fears, and anxieties with those who've been through a divorce before, process thoughts and feelings privately through journaling, read the Bible, pray, and be gracious and patient with yourself when it comes to the healing journey. It takes some people a year, for others, it can take many years.
As time passes and you let yourself truly grieve, there will be healing. Hope and joy will be restored. A new perspective will be gained.
Be prepared for repeat offenses
One of the hardest parts of divorce is having to deal with the trauma of seeing your ex over and over again. If you have children together, you'll see him or her, possibly with a significant other, at birthday parties, graduations, concerts, recitals, etc. for the rest of your life.
Be prepared for these instances. Create an action plan. Know what you need to do in order to get rid of toxic energy and thoughts. When you need to let off steam or process residual emotions, execute your plan. Here are a few suggestions: Run around the block. Put on your headphones and crank up the volume. Find your "to do list" and start working your way through it. Organize your closet. Get a milkshake or ice cream cone. PRAY!
Remember this: grieving does end. Grief is a process, not a project, and as you move through the journey, you will get stronger. Grief is clearing the way for healing and recovery.
Look for ways to challenge yourself
You are worthwhile. You are valuable. God loves you! So, invest in yourself; don't deprive or punish yourself.
Make a list of all the things - both big and small - that you've always wanted to do or keep putting off. It could be getting your motorcycle license, learning how to sew, taking horseback riding lessons, starting a blog, beginning a new career, or going back to school. No matter what's on your list, create a plan. As you start to conquer these things one at a time, piece by piece, not only will you feel happy (yes, it's OK to feel happy!) but your self-confidence will increase, and you'll begin to realize that if you can work through small feats, you can and will make it through bigger ones - like rebuilding your life in the aftermath of a divorce.
Rest and refocus at Sandy Cove
It's good to be with other Christians. It's healing to fellowship with others. If you're a woman, check out our women's events; they include a girls’ night out and women's weekends. If you're a guy, browse our men's events. Time together can be restful and restorative.
It's also good for the soul to spend time with your children. Check out our Family Camp. There are even single parent scholarships available. You might wonder: "Will I fit in at Sandy Cove if I do not have the perfect family?" "I don't have it all together; is that alright?" "Is it OK that I'm a divorced single parent?" Yes, yes, and YES! The whole mission of Sandy Cove is to connect people to God and to each other. We encourage you - come as you are!