A common question during the grieving process is how you can reach the final stage, acceptance, faster. You might ask about this because your spouse is already detached and ready to move on, or perhaps you want your spouse to catch up to you.
First of all, there is no need to put pressure on yourself (or your spouse). This can be a difficult time, and adding pressure and deadlines can make it even more challenging.
However, the following tips can help with the grieving process:
- Recognise your feelings: It is important to recognise how you’re feeling and not ignore it. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, confused, upset and frustrated. You may be uncertain and fearful about what the future holds, or you may feel stressed about your financial situation. All of these feelings are completely normal responses when a life-changing event such as divorce or separation occurs.
- The way you approach your separation will have an impact: A divorce through an adversarial process or the court will be emotionally draining, financially stressful, and can drag the entire process out for years. ‘Cut-throat’ lawyers fighting to win (and lose) can have a damaging long-term effect on your family and your future relationship with your ex-spouse, as we’ll share in Part 2. By contrast, a collaborative divorce can assist you in making the right decisions for your whole family. You will work with a family consultant who will help you communicate with your spouse and assist you to look forward to a positive future for your family, reducing your overall stress and uncertainty.
- Don’t let it consume you: Make time for friends and activities and be sure to keep some level of normality in your life. It is very easy to be thinking about your separation constantly, but this is emotionally exhausting. Add to your day some of the things you enjoy. Perhaps try a new hobby or teach yourself something new.
- Sleep, exercise and eat well: It sounds simple, but there are proven studies that support the idea that your physical wellbeing can have a huge impact on your mental state.[i] Eat a good balanced diet, get outside and exercise, and make sure that you’re trying to get a good amount of sleep each night. If you are struggling, there are some great calming apps available. Just a few include ReachOut Breathe, Headspace and Smiling Mind.
- Maintain your routine: Routine can be stabilising in uncertain times, so continue in your usual work. However, reset your expectations about your productivity, as you may find your energy is low and you are distracted. This may mean a discussion with your employer and colleagues.
- Focus on the future: Simply focusing on goals for the future can really help you push through the tough times. Achieving these milestones can then help you feel a deep sense of peace. (We’ll discuss this in more detail in Chapter 4).
- Find a greater purpose: Find a purpose – something that gives your life meaning, beyond being a part of your relationship. It may be a new purpose, or something you have considered before but left neglected. Having a sense of meaning will help keep you focused on the future throughout your separation, and will help you create your new life once your divorce is finalised.
- Think positively: Tell yourself ‘I did the best I could’, ‘I am pleased with the way I did that’, and reframe any mistakes as learning experiences, knowing you will do better next time.
- Schedule something to look forward to: Book a trip with some friends, schedule a massage or join a new class – having something to look forward to will make it easier for you to move forward.
- Get professional support: If you haven’t already, this is a good time to consult with a counsellor or psychologist who can give you strategies to help you manage your grief.
[i] ‘The Relationship between Mental Health, Mental Illness and Chronic Physical Conditions’, Canadian Mental Health Association, last modified December 16, 2008, http://ontario.cmha.ca/public_policy/the-relationship-between-mental-health-mental-illness-and-chronic-physical-conditions/#.V-BVD_l97IU