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How the 5 stages of grief apply to divorce

For many people, a divorce can feel like a death, and in some ways that comparison is fairly accurate since a divorce marks the end of an important relationship.

Divorce can also evoke the same five stages of grief and loss that were first described in the 1969 book “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a recent article from the Huffington Post explained.

The author of the article said the stages of grief and loss are universal, and as much as people would like to skip the stages and feel good again right away, mourning is the way humans respond to loss. 

Here are the five stages of grief and loss and how they might apply during divorce, according to the article:

Denial and Isolation. If you felt numb and in denial during the first few weeks of your divorce, you are not alone. For many people, it is difficult to acknowledge the loss at first and so it may take a while for reality to set in.

Anger. As soon as your mind can wrap itself around the reality of your marriage ending, your emotions may shift to anger. It’s perfectly normal to feel angry, just make sure that you are addressing it in the best ways. While yelling at your ex may do more harm than good, an hour at kickboxing also does the trick and has some great added benefits.

Bargaining. As PsychCentral.com explains, many grieving people are desperate for a sense of control after feeling helpless and vulnerable. You may wonder what you could have done to save your marriage or regret choices that were made or words that were said. However, it’s important to try to look at the divorce for what it is without attaching fault or regret.

Depression. This stage might involve actual depression -- for which it is important to seek help -- or it could involve sadness and mourning. The good thing to remember is that this stage will eventually come to an end. Additionally, if the sadness becomes a long-term mental health issue, then it’s important to speak to your doctor or therapist for treatment.

Acceptance. Although not everyone manages to come out on the other side of the five stages of grief with acceptance, it is often possible in the case of divorce. It may take a shorter or longer amount of time depending on your specific situation, but it is certainly possible to get there with the support and help you need. 

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