Grief is often thought of as something that we feel when we lose a person close to us, but there are so many areas in our lives where we can feel grief, divorce being one. In this episode I talk about the many forms divorce grief may take and why your grief may look different than the five stages of grief, your friend's grief who got divorced two years ago, or what society is telling you your grief process 'should' look like. Things you'll learn in this episode:
How grief is a feeling and so much more than that.
The many forms divorce grief can take.
Why the 5 Stages may not be your grief process.
Accepting and stepping into your own grief process.
The goal of grief as a whole in your life.
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The grieving process is unique to you, but that doesn't mean that it isn't confusing, challenging and hard. You don't have to move through your grieving process alone. I work with clients one-on-one and help guide and lend support as you learn your own process of divorce grief. If that sounds like something you want to learn more about schedule your free consult by clicking here.
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Full Episode Transcript:
I’m Karin Nelson and you’re listening to Becoming You Again episode number 86.
Welcome to becoming You Again. The podcast to help you with your mental and emotional wellbeing during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the trauma of your divorce by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so your life will be even better than when you were married. I’m your host Karin Nelson.
Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so glad you’re here. How is everything going? I had such a nice week. I have to say. I got my hair trimmed. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal to me. It has been many, many months since I have had my hair cut. Here is the story. I used to go to a woman who I loved. She knew my hair and if you don’t know what I look like, I have very thick, long naturally curly hair. If you don’t have naturally curly hair then let me just explain that curly hair has a mind of its own. It does what it wants and sometimes that means it’s going to look amazing, and I had nothing to do with it, and other times it’s going to look like a disaster frizz ball on your head and again, I had nothing to do with it. But finding someone who knows how to cut and handle curly hair is such a hassle. It has been my entire life.
So when I find someone that knows my hair, that knows curly hair, but does a really good job and I feel great after I leave their studio I like I stick with that person forever. So I had a woman and I went every 5 to 6 weeks for years and then her husband retired and they only had one kid left at home and it was her senior year and earlier in 2022 they decided they were going to move to Puerto Rico. They had traveled there many times and loved it there and they bought a house and moved. My last haircut with her was early in 2022. I want to say April but it might have even been earlier than that. I can’t even remember, it has been so long.
And I was so happy and excited for their new adventure but also I have to say I was freaking devastated that I now had to find someone new to cut my hair. And so you know what I did? I didn’t find someone to cut my hair. I just didn’t look. I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t want to. I was telling myself it was too hard, that it was too much work. And let’s be real, can we just be real for one minute? Finding a new stylist is no one’s favorite thing to do. It’s stressful. But finally the other day, my son who also has long thick hair and he was wanting to get his hair trimmed and could I help him find someone and so finally I did the work and found us someone and got my hair cut. Alright, we’re doing this. We’re finding someone. And so I put the feelers out there for someone who works with curly hair and found someone and we went and I got my hair trimmed. So in a nutshell that was the highlight of my week. It really was not as hard as I was telling myself it was going to be. It was actually quite easy. Which is the most hilarious thing that we do. Our brains are so funny. Right. We make things are going to be really difficult, we build them up in her head and so we do not even do them. But then it is not even a big deal. So it is hilarious. Anyway that was my week. I got my hair trimmed and it was amazing and it is so great and I am so happy that it has been done. How has your week been? I hope you’ve had some nice things going on for you.
I hope you have had some nice things going on for you. And if not then hopefully this podcast episode on divorce grief will offer you some solace. I wanted to talk about divorce grief to offer you kind of a better understanding of what is happening when you go through a divorce and the loss of what was.
The majority of the clients I have worked with one-to-one have felt grief around their divorce. And we have worked through it and processed through it. And I myself have gone through my own grieving process and felt grief because of my divorce. And normally when I am coaching my clients we talk about grief as a feeling inside our body that shows up when we have specific thoughts about our divorce, about life before divorce, about what they have missed out on. About the loss of what their life was going to be or could have possibly been. I think it’s important to recognize that grief is a feeling that we feel inside our body, but it is also kind of more than that because it encompasses so much more than what we’re feeling inside of our body. Right? Now don’t misunderstand me here, that feeling inside your body that feeling of grief, it is important to recognize and to make space for it to be present. But grief is not just that feeling because there are many factors that contribute to grief and our response to it. So I am going to talk about some of those things today.
It’s important to know that grief isn’t just a feeling but what it is, is it’s a natural human response to a perceived loss. You can feel grief and experience the grief process for so many things in your life. Now most people attribute grief and experience the grieving process with the loss of a loved one. But if we go by the definition that I gave you it’s very clear that grief is a natural human response to a perceived loss, and knowing that is going to allow ourselves to open ourselves up to and give ourselves permission to feel the grief that shows up when we experience a divorce.
Divorce grief can show up in many different forms. You may feel grief at the loss of being with a partner. You may feel over the loss of what your life was before the divorce, or the loss of what you thought your life was going to look like in the future. You may feel grief over the loss of spending a certain amount of time with your kids. Were grief over the loss of the amount of money in your bank account. Maybe you shared a pet in the marriage and your ex got the pet in the divorce, you may be feeling grief over not having that pet in your life. What I hope that you are recognizing and understanding is that grief comes in many forms and it is natural and normal to feel it and process through it.
And grief is going to look different for every human being. We’ve all heard of the 5 Stages of Grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are a theory that was developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and she released this theory in her book “On Death and Dying” that came out in 1969. These were stages that she observed while studying people with terminal illness facing their own death which I think is really interesting. Because these five stages have since been adopted by mainstream society as THE way to grieve and if you aren’t doing it this way then you’re doing something wrong. But that is a misconception. There is no wrong way to do grief and there is no right way to do grief. Kubler-Ross’s stages were a theory of what some people might go through and they didn’t necessary go in any certain order. Again recognizing that that is a theory will maybe help you understand that your way does not have to look that way. It is an idea and these things might happen that it is not necessarily going to happen or going to happen in that way as he processed through your own grief.
You may go through all of these stages, one or two of these stages, none and instead it may look more like barely surviving, surviving, and then thriving. There are a lot of different theories out there on what the grief process might look like for you but again it is such a personal thing that I want you to start trying to wrap your mind around the idea that your grief process is going to be unique and particular to you. It does not have to look a certain way and you are not doing grief wrong. Whatever it looks like for you.
Grief doesn’t move through us and our life in a linear way – it is much more complex, much more fluid, much more fluctuant than that. You’ve probably seen those memes where there is a straight line and then it is captioned under the straight line and says something like how you think achieving your goal will be. And then underneath the straight line is a squiggly jumbled mess of twists and turns eventually leading to the same place the straight line ends with the caption, how actually achieving your goal will be. And I want you to use this visual when it comes to grief as well. We think and have kind of been taught by society that grief is going to be linear or it should be linear. First you’ll feel denial, then you’ll feel anger, then you’ll start to bargain, etc. But grief isn’t linear at all. It’s much more a process of the jumbled, twisty, back and forth, up and down, all around, all over the place kind of process. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong with that. It is part of the process. And again your jumbled, back and forth, up and down, all over the place process is going to look different than mine or your neighbor’s or your friend who got divorced two years ago.
And so often we believe that with grief the goal is to be able to move past the grief. It might sound something like, once I can finally get through this stage then I’ll have moved past my grief and can get on with my life. But I personally believe the goal is more in line with instead being able to expand ourself and adjust and integrate the grief into our life. Because we are humans with those human brains that are amazing are constantly getting thoughts that are being offered to us about all kinds of things.
We can’t turn off our thoughts and so that means that you could be 15 years out from your divorce, having expanded and adjusted and moved forward in your life. Maybe remarried with a partner that you love in a home that you love with your kids and life going great and then your brain will offer you some thoughts about the past and what might have been if you had stayed or if there was no divorce and you will probably feel some grief about that. This is again a natural thing to have happen.
I’m six years out from my divorce and there are still moments every once in a while where I will feel that flare of grief for the loss of my marriage and being able to be with my kids all the time. When this happens I open myself up to feeling and allowing that grief to be present inside of me. I don’t try and run away from it. I do not try and pretend like it’s not there. I don’t even try and make it mean that I made the wrong decision or that I shouldn’t have asked for the divorce or I made a mistake in my decision. Instead I open up the door, I invite the grief in and it stays with me for a little bit and then after a little while it’s gone. And it will come back to visit again in the future and it’s okay.
Now many of you listening to this podcast are probably not to that phase where grief only comes to visit every so often. Many of you are probably in the phase of grief where it feels very heavy and raw and hard and constant. This is where I would invite you to open yourself up to allowing the grief to be with you. This is where processing what you’re feeling will be very useful. I’m not going to go into how to process an emotion in this podcast. I’ve covered that in several other podcasts so if you’re not sure what I’m talking about when I say processing and allowing your grief to be with you then go listen to those episodes. Off the top of my head I know episode number 30 I’m pretty sure is processing emotions. I just did one a few episodes ago called emotional intelligence. You can check that one out. And I know there are a few others regaled in their where I really talk about this idea of opening yourself up to him processing emotions, becoming friends with it but learning to be open to it and learning to understand and accept what you are feeling and letting the grief be with you is what is going to help you expand and grow with your grief and allow it to integrate into your life. Instead of trying to that point where you have moved past it.
Divorce grief is real. You are allowed to feel sad about the many losses that are attached to divorce. You are allowed to mourn these losses in whatever way works for you. Your grief process doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It’s yours. Remember there is no right or wrong way to process grief. There is just your way.
That’s what I have for you today, my friends. I love you. I’m grateful to you for being here and listening and for showing up for yourself which is the most important part of all of this. I will be back next week.
If you like what you’re learning on the podcast and you’re ready to create lasting change and results in your life then you need to be working 1:1 with Karin as your divorce coach. This is where we take everything you’re learning in the podcast and 10x it with implementation and weekly coaching where you start to see change in yourself and your life immediately. To find out more about how work exclusively with Karin go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com . That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
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