Friday, 20 April 2012

The Grief and Loss of Divorce

About one year ago, I met an interesting woman. Laila Burton was friendly, warm and caring, and at the time, she was considering becoming a Family Mediator. Soon thereafter, Laila realized that her passion and strenghths made her ideally suited for becoming a Grief and Loss Specialist, with a paricular focus on Divorce Recovery.

Now, Laila is a wonderful resource person for our clients at Victory Law and Mediation, and other individuals and families struggling through the emotional turbulance of separation and divorce.  Laila writes:

Divorce is the death of a relationship, but it’s also the loss of hopes and dreams, and the end to a union that was meant to be forever.  Divorce can challenge lifelong beliefs, strain friendships, divide families, fuel unhealthy communication patterns, damage self-esteem and self-confidence.
Without acknowledging and completing a past relationship, the emotional toll of divorce can have a negative impact for years.  Hurt feelings or negative patterns of behaviour can be brought into future relationships, or unknowingly, be taken out on the people we love, or negatively impact children.
With no clear structure on how to heal from a divorce, couples are often left to the advice of a lawyer or well-meaning friends and family.  It’s estimated that nearly half of all marriages will end in divorce, and a significant number of people are unsure about how to end their emotional relationship with a former spouse.

Divorce grief can affect the body and mind in the same way as if the person had died.  Some people experience feelings of exhaustion and physical drain; feelings of “living in a dream” and emotional numbness; interruption in regular sleeping patterns such as difficulties falling asleep, or waking up very early in the morning with an inability to fall asleep again yet feeling too tired to get up;  weight gain or loss;  unexplained mood changes; uncontrollable crying spells with no apparent reason; feeling distracted or forgetful; feelings of anger, rage, or suicidal thoughts. The side effects of grief can cause depression, anxiety, addiction, and feelings of guilt, blame, self-doubt or self-criticism.  Finding ways to manage grief is important because if we don’t manage the grief, it will manage us. 
Divorce Recovery is about taking the time to invest in yourself so you can be free from the pain that a divorce can cause.  Taking the first step can feel difficult or intimidating, but with support, guidance and a commitment to yourself, recovery is possible.

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