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Counsellor Stacey Hart gives much needed, sound advice
on dealing with the stress and trauma of grief
during the divorce, coping mechanisms
and how to adjust, adapt and recover
from this enormous, painful event in your life. 


Whether it’s a decision you make yourself or jointly, the realisation and pain of closing this chapter is very painful and traumatic. The connection made in marriage runs deep spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It’s like glueing 2 pieces of paper together and then trying to separate them, therefore, neither one walks away without taking a piece of the other.

Dealing with the stress and trauma of divorce

Moving out physically is very stressful just as any move is in life, but this time it’s with a new identity and a new way of living, which may include trying to rebuild with or without money. Sometimes it can take years to recover financially and to retake your place in a society that does not always have a place for you.

Cut all communication with your ex-partner until you have worked through the pain and hurt. Use your lawyer or a 3rd party who is not involved on an emotional level, in other words, don’t use your children or family to fill in the gap when it comes to communication. Alternatively, you can use email but remember to keep it short, to the point and don’t let it become a way of beating each other up by playing the blame game.

Detaching is needed to cut the emotional ties. I use the analogy of putting out your arm in front of you to keep the other person at a distance. That is what I like to call detaching, cutting the emotional ties that have bonded you together and keeping them out of your personal space. All the emotions that come from this needs to be processed in order to heal.

The Spiritual connection is there whether you are a believer or not. It was always intended for us since relationships are part of God’s design.

Coping mechanisms

How do we cope?

We need to grieve just as we would have if our partner had died, however, the difference is that they are still there which makes it very difficult.

Whether it was a mutual decision or not, we have been either betrayed or abandoned, and we must own those feelings by making space for them. When we give our feelings a voice, we acknowledge the pain and once we do that, we can move on and make it a part of our story.

Grief comes in waves, where some days will be ok and others bad, and I really encourage you to find a counsellor or a therapist who can assist you with the process. You don’t need to do it alone. Just remember, you can survive this!

The grief is not just about the other person but about the life you thought you would have with that person; the home, the family, and the friends, therefore, it leaves one with an accumulation of losses.

There are various stages of grief, and some may be easier than others, however, we don’t deal with them one by one; sometimes we can be overwhelmed by experiencing two or more of the stages at the same time, and most times we hop from one stage to another randomly.

The stages of grief are:


This is a temporary stage and includes saying things like, “Is this really happening to me?” or “How can this be happening to me?” These are questions that need to be asked but remember, there may not always be a satisfactory answer.


“Why Me?” and “It’s not fair!” and “Who is to blame?” may go through our thoughts often which can and will cause feelings of rage at times.

Resentment and bitterness can set in very easily, therefore, try and be conscious of what you feel and say and don’t let it change who you are.

If there is a 3rd party involved there may be a lot of jealousy and anger which is understandable but try to keep your integrity and self-respect intact, and if there are children, don’t encourage them to take sides, remember, their loyalty is with you both, so don’t ask them to choose.

Anger is a necessary step and is a very normal emotion, but it’s what we do with it that can be our downfall, therefore use your anger positively to move you to healing.


“Maybe I can do things differently or maybe I can say things differently, and then we can get together again.”

Be careful to not grovel or make promises you cannot keep.

People are who they are, and we can never change another person.

The only thing we can change is our behaviour, therefore, change always begins with us!


“I can’t do this, I can’t start again, I can’t live without my partner, how will I manage?”

This happens when our emotions get the better of us.

Not sleeping, not wanting to get up and face the world, not eating properly, lack of personal hygiene, not wanting to see anyone, and becoming a recluse are all symptoms of depression.

If it persists, see your GP and ask for something to help lift your mood so that you can manage life, or see a counsellor or a therapist. Look for all the help you can get!


This is when we come to terms with the loss and begin to recreate and rebuild a new life.

We accept and take responsibility for our part in the breakup and move on.

However, remember It is not the end, it can be the beginning of something new and better.

It’s helpful to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?”

Adjustment Period

Give yourself time to adjust to being alone, things like taking out the garbage or having to drive yourself can be difficult. Not having someone to greet when you get home or say good night to can be the little things that we miss the most.

Make a personal inventory of who you were and look at where you are now, and how you can work on yourself to become the best new you.

Self-love is important and it is taking the time to see the person who we may have lost along the way in order to please others, or to endure any abuse we may have experienced.

Being ashamed and carrying the shame of what happened to you is debilitating and painful. It affects our self-esteem and can make us believe we are bad or not worthy of being loved again. Be aware of this and don’t carry the shame of what happened to you.

Brene Brown wrote, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.’’ and “Grace means that all of our mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.’’

Be proactive! Make it happen.

Make a dream board of what you want in life by cutting out pictures of what you want or where you see yourself to help you dream up this new life as you step into the next chapter and then put it up in your room where you will see it every day.

Have a bucket list of the things you want to do, places you want to visit.

Create 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself and put them up in your room or on your fridge where it will help to keep you focused on moving forward.


Joining a dance group, a pottery class, a hiking group, a cooking class, an arts and crafts group, a church or any other small group which will help to connect you to your creative side which will bring about balance but also open you up to doing life differently and meeting new people.

Have your hair cut differently, buy some new clothes, invite some friends over, have the courage to put yourself out there. The best advice I got was from an acquaintance who said, change your bedroom, make it pretty. All this is part of recreating you and your space.

Work on forgiving yourself and your partner. Forgiveness can be a difficult process but keep working at it since by forgiving, you set yourself free!

There will be times when you will have to be in the same room as your ex, most likely at a family function; at those times, hold your head up high and embrace the moment. Your spouse was part of your story in this life, and probably blessed you with children, therefore, it’s not something that will go away, so celebrate it, leave it in the chapter where it belongs and move on with all the grace possible. Do it for yourself, your children, and the wider family.


I believe the most difficult part is starting again which can be very painful but don’t ignore your pain and hurt, deal with it with the help of a support group or counsellor or therapist, someone who can offer you a safe space to share your feelings.

Don’t give up on yourself. Use this time to rebuild your future.

The reality of the situation is that it hurts and that we need to get to a point of acceptance and to never forget that there is always hope for a better future.


If you are looking for a Counsellor
to listen, listen, support and guide you on your journey,
then do contact Stacey Hart at Shiloh Counselling Centre.
Stacey offers offer individual, couples, relationship and family Counselling,
marriage prep, weddings and memorial services. 

Please complete the form below, and Stacey will get back to you as soon as she can.



Author:  Stacey Hart
Shiloh Counselling Centre
Tel:  079 494 0541


CLICK HERE TO READ MORE – Gray Divorce, A disturbing trend, Part 1



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