Divorce is an experience that affects nearly every aspect of your life. Even if you know your divorce is for the best, there are still losses you need to come to terms with so you don't get stuck in a rut. Here are the top six:
1. Loss of the future you thought you'd have.
Most people have high hopes when they marry and this probably isn't how you thought your life would go. But don't let yourself get lost in what could have been. Focus on the here and now and see if you can begin to glimpse a new vision for your future.
2. Loss of mutual friends and in-laws.
You will either need to say goodbye to your in-laws or dramatically restructure your relationship with them. Don't fight to try to keep the same relationship with them -- things need to change, so let them.
Your mutual friends will likely gravitate towards one or the other of you. Don't take it personally. Instead, focus on the good friends who are there to support you now.
3. Loss of money and possessions.
You may need to move to a smaller house or apartment, part with favourite furniture, or adapt to a lower income. Focus on getting yourself set up as best you can with what you have. Aim at getting a decent income and create the most nourishing, comfortable home that you can for yourself.
Most importantly, get help. Find a good lawyer, real estate agent, or accountant. Ask trusted friends for a helping hand.
4. Loss of social status.
The stigma that still surrounds divorce leaves many people feeling alone, isolated and like a failure. Remember that you are NOT a failure just because you've been through a divorce. Try to seek out others who've gone through this -- talk to friends who are divorced or join a support group.
5. Loss of having married parents for your children.
If you have children, their sadness or anger about the divorce will likely be hard on you. They may act out or withdraw. Summon the energy to get proactive in your parenting. Read some parenting books on the subject and talk to other divorced parents about what worked for them. Then put a plan in place for how you're going to parent your kids through this. They'll improve and you'll feel better about yourself as a parent too.
6. Loss of the person you loved.
Even though the relationship got bad enough that you needed to divorce, things weren't always that way. At one time you were in love with each other. Try to honour what you were to each other. Give yourself time to mourn. Take stock of how the relationship enriched you and what it has taught you. What do you know now that you can apply to your next relationship (yes, there will likely be a next relationship.)
Divorce is a transitional time. Know that you will get through this and trust that there's a bright light on the other side of this -- that bright light is your future life.
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Carole-Anne Vatcher, MSW, RSW is a Toronto-based individual and couple therapist in private practice. She has been interviewed for Homemakers, Reader's Digest, and Canadian Living magazines. You may have seen her appearances on Canada AM, The Erin Davis Show, W Live, and CityTV's TalkTV. Carole-Anne helps people improve their relationships and make important changes in their lives. You can visit her website at www.torontotherapy.ca.