Divorce is like death: The 7 stages of grieving

By: Vernier & Associates, PLLC | Published 12/11/2018

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On behalf of Vernier & Associates PLLC on Monday, December 3, 2018.

You may have heard in the past that a divorce is much like death. The reality is that it's true. Like in death, the end of a marriage is the end of a relationship that is unlikely to ever go back to the way it was. It's an end of the family unit as a whole, and it can be a major loss for both people as well as their children or relatives.

There are seven stages to grieving. If you and your spouse can get through these stages, it's likely that you can move forward to work together more effectively to finalize your divorce. If not, there may be struggles during the divorce, even though people do eventually accept the reality of divorce at some point in their lives.

The grief model best explains how people grieve during death and other major life changes. Here's a little more about it.

Stage one: Shock or denial

This is common among spouses who did not realize that a divorce was a possibility. Denying that the other person doesn't want to be with them or living in a state of shock is the first stage of grief.

Stage two: Guilt or anger

Depending on the situation, one or both parties may be angry or guilty. When seeing a divorce that has a lot of fighting, it's likely that this is the stage of grief one or both parties is in. They may be angry at themselves or lash out at others. Some people are so guilty that they want to do whatever the other party wants to resolve the case.

Stage three: Bargaining and anger

Bargaining refers to begging the other person to stay or to allow for other important things in your life. Anger may result when those wishes are denied.

Stage four: Depression, loneliness, reflection

In stage four, people often become more passive, reflective and possibly depressed.

Stage five: Getting better

During stage five, people begin to become more like themselves again with less depression and more stability on their own.

Stage six: Working through

During this stage, people become able to come up with realistic solutions to problems.

Stage seven: Acceptance

During the stage of acceptance, people know that this is what is happening and that they cannot stop it. They begin to make their own plans for the future and move forward with their lives.

These are the stages of grief. They don't always happen in order, but it's important to go through them to a reach a state of acceptance over your divorce.

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