Make no mistake, there is tremendous loss in divorce regardless of who instigated the divorce. Mourning is a vital process in passing through grieving in any loss. Without mourning, that grief will raise its head, often at the most inappropriate times, taking away from the opportunities life offers us.
Divorce is the death of a dream created together. The depth of the loss depends on the depth of the marital commitment, the depth of the vision created when the “ being in love” stage was passed through, and how far a long the marriage was on the journey. The depth of the dream will impact the depth of the grieving and the vital process of mourning.
It has been said that there are 5 stages of grieving. Mourning is the creation of process to move us through these five stages so that we don’t get stuck in one spot for too long along the way. The five steps of grieving are Denial, Anger. Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. In the mourning process we add Gratitude and Creation to the process. Mourning will not be complete without these two pieces. “Stages” are frames we make up for measuring and for guidance. They are only as real as we choose to make them. At the same time, they are a lens for understanding what is happening, what feelings are being processed and what is to come, especially when people get stuck in one place.
Grief, not openly processed, will lead to log jams of emotion. I have worked with people who were still angry at their ex 20 years after their divorce even though it was poisoning them emotionally to be in that place. They were stuck in anger. We are here to own our feelings and pass through them. Hurt and sadness will “own us if we don’t learn to let go of them. Unprocessed will color our best moments when ignored, whether it be pain, sadness, hurt, or anger. They may have touched the other “stages” in their process, but on some level they had not completely let go of their anger and so every time they spoke about that person, the feeling had them, instead of the other way around.
When grief gets the better of us at uncomfortable moments, this is the natural outgrowth of powering through life. Mourning is the way to take the bull by the horns. Grieving often occurs subconscious or semi-conscious level depending on whether we are embracing it. Mourning is the process of bringing that feeling to the surface and consciously experiencing it, exploring it and eventually releasing it. In fact, we will not truly experience gratitude- perhaps in any area of our lives- without being complete in the earlier “stages” of the process, and our ability to create, to move onto new experiences will also be impaired and limited.
How do you know if this is you? If you are experiencing a good deal of “SSDD” (Same Stuff, Different Day) than you may be a victim of unfinished mourning. Creativity is the seat from which new experiences and growth happen in our lives. If we’re not experiencing new appreciation and moments of discovery, the chances are we have gotten emotionally stuck. This is not to say that there won’t be routines and some level of predictability in our lives. As human beings, our sense of safety to some extent is dependent on the reliability of experience. However, when reliability becomes “more of the same rather than a secure point in which we explore something new, it’s time to take a closer look. Get in touch with a professional and get yourself out of the “jam”.