Dearly Beloved: We Are Gathered to Celebrate This DivorceApr 13, 2021
Dearly Beloved: We Are Gathered to Celebrate This Divorce
Divorce is like death. I want you to think back to a time when a loved one died.
When I think of death, I remember my grandparents.
With my grandfather, I expected it. After all, he had lived with lymphoma for five years. The last time I saw him, he was in the hospital because his immune system had shut down. He told me he was tired of all of it.
Even expecting his passing, I was devastated when it happened. I felt lost and adrift.
Then there was my grandmother’s death. This occurred before there were cell phones. I learnt of it when a staff person at the College of Law barged into a large classroom, interrupted the prof, and loudly announced, “Kim Korven, you need to call your father, immediately.”
I called my dad from a pay phone, and was told my grandmother had died in her garden. I almost collapsed and could hardly speak.
That was even worse than my grandfather’s death.
There is a point in sharing these stories. Each death is different. Even if it is expected, the survivor’s experience gut-wrenching pain and disorientation.
Separation and divorce are like death. When you separate, a person doesn’t die, but a relationship does.
Most likely, you married for life. Very few people who marry expect it to end in divorce; they expect it to end with the death of one of the spouses.
Marriage is supposed to last.
When it doesn’t, it is like my grandma’s death. One moment, everything is fine. The next, the world is turned upside down.
When my grandma died, we held a funeral. Honoured her life with stories of her accomplishments. Everyone in our family gathered to share our grief. This made it easier to bear.
With divorce, it doesn’t matter if you made the decision or if your spouse did. It hurts like crazy. It leaves you disorientated and a little crazy.
When I asked my husband to leave, no one knew how to respond. As a result, they ignored my new reality.
I was left to flounder. To blunder my way through this new reality.
Everyone – including me – expected me to be happy. After all, the marriage in which I had been miserable was done.
Instead of being happy, I felt confused and disorientated. Life was a struggle.
It took a therapist to tell me my marriage experience was distinct from what I expected it to be.
My actual marriage had been tense, with me hiding the real me, and with my husband being angry and sad most of the time. It was a struggle.
However, I had dreamed it would be good, that I would feel treasured, that I would grow old with my husband by my side.
She told me I had to grieve my dream marriage. I had to approach our separation as if it was a death.
We don’t expect to grieve separation and divorce. I made the decision so I expected I would be happy when my marriage ended. I expected my husband would be sad.
In our culture we shy away from pain… we do our best to avoid it. This makes it worse.
Because I failed to see the grief I was experiencing, I made my pain worse.
It is far healthier to grieve the dream of your marriage, to grieve that it has ended in divorce. Act as if someone has died. Someone has: not a person, but your relationship.
Approach the end of your marriage and your divorce as if a beloved family member has died. As with any death, there are three things you can do to make the experience easier.
1) Create a support system. It need only contain one person who is there for you. If you can’t think of anyone, reach out to me at [email protected]. I can help you find resources in your community.
2) Let yourself feel everything. Grieve your separation and divorce fully and with gusto. There are moments when you will be incredibly happy. Other moments when you burst into tears. You need to feel all of them. Accept that you may not be able to sleep, and may have no appetite. This is how you process this change. As with grieving any death, feelings are part of the experience. Be 100% real. Don’t worry about what others think. They will not understand.
3) Write a eulogy honouring your relationship. Think about the good times during your marriage, and write them down. Think about things your spouse did that used to make you smile. Plan a speech, begin with, “Dearly Beloved: We Are Gathered Here To Celebrate The Divorce Of (your name) and (your spouse’s name). Include the high points of your marriage. Include your feelings make it real. Include what you have learned from this death. If you need help doing this, I am here for you. Schedule a complimentary 20-minute drama-free divorce consultation and I will help you get started.
May you learn from this post, and have an easier experience than I did. Grieve your marriage, and find your way to live.
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