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Stages of Grief
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Home > Writings > On Divorce > Here
spacer Well, here I find myself again. Sitting in front of my stupid computer, typing about my feelings. On my Beginning Experience weekend, I was introduced to the "stages of grief". They are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
  • Reaching Out

Denial is the first stage of the grieving process. This is how the average person deals with the shock of a significant loss. Rather than dealing with the loss directly, we use denial to "put off" all feelings until we can come to grips with the reality of our situation. Typically, folks in denial will say such things as:

  • I cannot believe this is happening to me,
  • Why me?

The anger stage is characterized by feelings of rage. These feelings may be against any and all of the following:

  • Rage against God for allowing this to happen to us.
  • Rage at the former spouse for having a part in this divorce.
  • Rage against the general populace because they are not going through the same stuff that we are right now. They are "happy", "normal", "involved with someone", etc.
  • Rage at ourselves for having contributed (through action or inaction) to the loss.

These strong feelings, correctly channeled, can provide us the energy to create for ourselves a new, better life.

Bargaining is an attempt, usually by the one who was dumped. Quite often, the feelings of guilt felt during this stage are unrealistic and should be recognized as such. The typical statements someone in this stage will say are:

  • God, if you will "make" my spouse see the light, I'll make amends.
  • Spouse, I'll change. You name it, I'll do it.
  • If you will not come back for me, at least think about it for the kids.

Depression sets in when we suddenly come to the realization that things are NOT going to go back to the way they were. Simply put, the weight of the loss is too great to bear. People in this stage typically feel:

  • Helpless: "I cannot possibly go on."
  • Floundering: "I don't know what to have for dinner kids, let's just forage for something in the fridge."
  • Low: "I caused this."
  • Lifeless: "Nothing seems fun anymore."

Acceptance comes when the reality of the loss has been dealt with and accepted. A person reaching this stage feels:

  • Peaceful
  • Hopeful
  • A sense that a new beginning has dawned in their life.

Reaching out is what some folks do once they have reached some level of acceptance. It typically involves helping others who are experiencing a similar loss.

It should also be noted that many people feel all of these in several cycles as they work through the divorce process. Sometimes I have felt pretty good about everything during the course of the day. I've not spent any time rehashing things (that old "hamster thinking"). Then, suddenly, I'll find myself in an utter rage over some little thing that triggers some old memory. This is normal.

Well, having read this far, you will find some variation on all of the proceeding in the various books that I referenced in the divorce section of my web site. If you've read some of the other writings that I have to offer from that page, you will know well and truly that I have not recovered from my divorce fully. In fact, I am just starting on the road.

As expressed on this web site, I have went through all of these stages. I have felt denial. I have felt (and just tonight, was feeling again) a great deal of anger at my former wife for what she did. I have went through many stages of bargaining with God, trying to get a bit of intersession going on my behalf with my wife. I have been in some very dark places that can only be called depression over the course of the last nine months. This web site is, at least in my mind, an expression of my reaching out to others, trying to say "it happens, it is real, we will all come out of it, trust the process." Further, I must say "Thank You" to all of you who have read my story and sent your thoughts and prayers my way via email, etc.

Reading all of this, I am drawn back to a question that was in my mind as I started this journal entry. Is all of this worth it? I mean, we can send people into space. We can cure a great number of illnesses in the world (ok, not all, but we are working on it). We can build virtually anything we put our minds to, from the immense (say the pyramids) to the microscopic (the integrated circuits found in virtually everything these days). However, if we cannot know our hearts, if we cannot trust the person we have married, is all of this worth it?

God help me, I hope it is. I do wonder sometimes, but thus far at least, I always come back to "I hope it is." My current divorce classes, self help books, etc. are helping me see into my heart to know what I really want more clearly. I do pray that I will learn from this experience so that I will at least be empowered to not make the same mistakes next time.

Written May, 2000.

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