I can still clearly remember the day I got married. I see myself as a different person.
I was stood at the back of the church with my Dad, his responsibility being to walk me down the aisle slowly – the vicar had told him specifically not to let our nerves get the better of us and race down the aisle but to take our time.
I remember thinking that this was the first day of the rest of my life, that this man wanted to make future plans with me. I don’t think we had everything mapped out, we knew we both wanted children and I already had a cat and we were in love. The rest was yet to be discovered.
A life ahead of us. We were both mid 30’s so no spring chickens, we could hope for at least 50 years together.
So, what happens when marriage ends?
What happens when that partner you created your future dreams with is no longer the person in those dreams? Regardless of how it came to end, what happens to those dreams? Do they wait for someone else or do those dreams just die?
It may not be obvious to see divorce as a bereavement, but it is a loss. It is something you grieve. But do you know how to mourn your marriage?
When your marriage ends it’s not just the end of a relationship to the person you once loved. It’s the end of the hopes, dreams and aspirations you had when you first got married, it’s the end or an era.
There are so many more associated losses;
You may have to move house, sell your car, lose possessions you once shared, the status of being married and financial security, relationships with others change, so often I hear of friends feeling like they have to choose a side.
You lose your children, maybe completely but probably you lose having full time responsibility for them. You may share them with the person you’ve come to feel awkward around or even dislike and don’t trust anymore.
When you are bereaved by death you would usually receive compassion from friends and family. They might make meals for you, hold your hand at the funeral, pop around for coffee, listen as you recall memories and sob.
But what happens when your marriage is over? Friends choose sides or judge you; you feel guilty, family members point the finger or maybe they are feeling angry. But you certainly don’t get to be the widow in black and mourn for 40 days.
So how can you mourn when people won’t let you grieve?
First you need to grieve and here are some ideas to help you do that:
Allow yourself to feel the pain
The stages of grief set out by Kuber Ross are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. However, there’s a whole host of other feelings to be expressed as well. These are all perfectly normally ways to feel after such a loss. Allow yourself to feel them.
Don’t worry about those that have turned your back on you, this is very hard for you but it’s no walk in the park for them either. Forgive them or at the very least let them go. Then focus on the people that do have your back.
It’s important to look after your well-being while you are grieving because it’s exhausting work. I’m talking about self-care, yoga, hot baths, positive affirmations, gratitude’s, daily self-affirming habits that remind you who you are and that you will be okay.
I’d recommend treating yourself to a lovely notebook and start to journal, use it as a safe place to write everything down, all your thoughts, emotions and feelings about everyone and everything.
See a Counselor
Sometimes grieving on your own is too hard and you need someone by your side to help you. Counselling offers that support and normalises the process you are going through.
Now you’ve given yourself permission to grieve how do you mourn when you don't get a funeral?
Here are some ideas to help you Mourn:
Write a letter (you don’t need to send it)
letting him or her go, wishing them well, saying sorry. This is about you not them, but sometimes you have to say these things so you can be free.
Ask some close friends to write you a sympathy card
Maybe you need others to mark the loss with you.
Celebrate your new life. Meet with a few friends and ask them to toast your new life and think of new adventures, discoveries and goals.
Thinking equally about what you have lost together with your new dreams for the future even if that’s really hard to see at the moment.
When people are bereaved by death, we never tell them to move on, we allow them the space and time they need to find their way to live with and accept their grief.
But if you are bereaved by divorce then you need to find a way to move on and see a future of hope and love like you did at the start.
When your marriage is over you Mourn so you can Move on.
You can dream again when you accept where you are now.
If you need some help processing your feelings or can’t see your way out then give me a call.