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Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance
Denial Denial gives your brain time to process trauma and grief. It is essentially a defense mechanism that occurs so that you can stop, process and cope with the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing. This mindset can paralyze you if you prolong it. It is also a crucial first step in your process through the stages of grief. Take your time to process every emotion that you are experiencing. Be kind to yourself.
Anger Anger is a mask for pain, sorrow, sadness and depression. It is an outward expression of the pain you may be initially suppressing. Be aware of how you react to others around you, try not to lash out and try not to take your pain out on other people. Let people know your situation. Communication is healthy. It is normal to feel angry. This period may last longer than the first stage, denial, and the depression from it may last on and off through the following stages. Understanding the root of your emotions and the root of your anger can be helpful in disarming them. Notice your emotions, notice what things trigger you, and notice what memories hurt worse than others. Remind yourself that you are half-way through the healing process.
Bargaining Bargaining with yourself or with God (or your higher power) is also a common stage people go through. Phrases like “if only,” “what if,” etc… or “God, if this happens I promise…” are all forms of bargaining. This stage is your brain’s way of trying to postpone your overwhelming sadness and depression.
Depression All of the other previous stages lead up to this stage. Why? Because depression is the hardest stage to cope with. We feel weak when we are sad. We feel helpless when we are sad. We feel vulnerable when we are sad. We feel like we have lost our sense of purpose and self-worth. This is the most critical stage to occur because this is your last healing stage before acceptance (if you experienced them in order). It’s important to note that all people experience all stages of grief and not all people experience these stages in order. When one is experiencing depression it is common to not want to reach out to people but that is what you should do…seek the company of others. Always remember it is okay to cry alone. It is okay to lean on friends, family or a trusted counselor. Be easy on yourself. Grief is not an easy step. Depression is not an easy emotion to work through. Give yourself some grace. You are doing your best.
Acceptance Acceptance is your final healing stage. This stage DOES NOT mean you will feel any happier. This stage is where your healing begins. It is where your mind has finally coped with the stages of emotions of grief and is now ready to accept the reality of the situation. You may still feel sad; you may still feel angry. However, you will have accepted your new reality. Remember you will have good days and bad days, some days will be harder than others.
Be kind to yourself.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Stages of Grief: Clinical Definitions: (McGill University, 2022)
For more information on this topic please visit:
Healthline, (2022) The Stages of Grief: What Do You Need to Know?, Healthline;
Web Retrieved: https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief;
It’s Time to Let the Five Stages of Grief Die (2022) McGill University
Web Retrieved https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-history/its-time-let-five-stages-grief-die.