Even typing the word “divorce” feels so final. divorce is painful, and the financial effects are depressing

It feels final because divorce is final. Divorce is defined by the dissolution of a marriage. Whether it’s because of irreconcilable differences, adultery, or growing in different directions, your marriage is finished. And divorce makes it binding.

Divorce is a big decision. Sometimes you are the one to call it. But others hear their spouse say, “I want a divorce” and may feel they had no decision in the matter whatsoever. Either way, you do have decisions to make.

Legal aspect

No matter who or what has caused the division, if you’re considering or discussing divorce or hoping beyond hope for reconciliation, seek the advice of a trustworthy attorney, preferably one who practices family law.

Make an appointment. Approach it as a research project if necessary but at least take the action to get legal guidance.

Meeting with a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to file for divorce.  You and your spouse may be able to reunite.  But a legal expert helps you discover your options in case things don’t work out. It’s not necessary to make a decision today.

But in case the day arrives where you do, you’ll be able to make some informed determinations.

You and your spouse may be able to negotiate the terms yourself, draft and sign the papers and appear before the judge in an amicable way. But often this is not the case.

Divorce means to dismantle the business portion of marriage. But too often, one or both parties are filled with volatile emotions that prevent them from brokering the deal.

This is why you need an advocate who is unaffected by the emotional storm that often surrounds divorce and can provide a realistic review of choices.

divorce and debt usually walk hand in handMany couples seek (or judges order) a mediator who can help them come to terms as they dissolve their marriage’s assets and debts or arrange custody and visitation of the children. This can save you both thousands of dollars. But you may still need a competent attorney.

Emotional impact

Many people report feelings of devastation, depression and downright debilitation during and after the process.

Time does heal, but it takes more than a few months to move through the aftermath of divorce.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the renowned Swiss psychiatrist credited with the Five “Stages” of Grief, developed these from her incredible listening skills and powers of observation in her book, On Death and Dying.

Divorce feels like death, and it is even it’s the death of a dream.

The modified chart of Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief below may help you identify your feelings. And know it’s natural. You are not crazy!  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7e/2d/7b/7e2d7b40aac2ff3ac54afc9a7689ff56.jpg

Understand that the phases of grief are not a clearly lined path. You won’t neatly move from one phase to another. And you may not experience every single stage or in any particular order.

Greif is messy. It’s unavoidable.

Allow yourself time and space to lick your wounds. However, after a little while, take  one tiny step each day – even if that means just making the bed or taking a shower.

If you’re uncontrollably crying for weeks, find a trained counselor who can help you through this rough patch. A good therapist helps you sort out and move through your feelings but doesn’t keep you in therapy indefinitely.

One day you may congratulate yourself that you’ve “ended” the anger phase, only for a big tsunami of rage to hit. You want to text, call or tell your spouse face to face, exactly how mad and hurt you feel.

From the wisdom of those who’ve walked before you, DON’T.

Some ways to release your emptions is to journal them out or paint an image of your rage, for example, or make a collage.

Write a letter. Don’t hold back. Call your spouse every ugly name that comes to mind and hurl every insult you’d love to say, but SAVE it. DO NOT send.

Be cautious about drafting this letter in the form of an email because during the emotional roller coaster that often accompanies divorce, you may accidentally hit “send” instead of “save.”

Light candles, pray, find some peace of mindSurround yourself with a group of people who can listen as you vent, but who won’t encourage self-destructive behavior or acts of humiliation.  Make sure your close-knit group includes at least one cheerleader for those certain times when you hit the wall. You know, the one who can will lift you up and tell you 100 times that you can do this, one day at a tine.

Pray.  Meditate.  Light candles.

Pick up an old hobby or develop a new one. Make friends with other single people.

Give yourself time to heal and grieve.  Allow yourself a period to learn how to breathe again and learn to live as a single person.

You can do this.

How do I know?  Because half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce.

Those are the statistics you avoid in the beginning or know beyond a shadow of a doubt won’t happen to you because beginnings are filled with hope and dreams.

But if your marriage fails, it doesn’t make you a failure or give you a reason to feel ashamed.  It just makes you a part of a club who may not have wanted nor asked for divorce, but they survived and even thrived because of it.