Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

Just how do you get over a divorce?

This is a ginormous question for those who face it. 

I didn’t quite have the answer a few years ago.

In truth, back then it seemed SO complicated.

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There was the devastating emotional aspect,

The fall from grace community aspect,

The pull yourself together aspect,

The need to protect my children aspect,

My family and friends are worried about me and they should be aspect,

The oddly I’ve never felt worse about myself aspect,

The I’m sleep deprived, stressed, exhausted and the bills are piling up aspect,

The extra pounds or lack thereof are helping me get by aspect,

And the quintessential…

I have to figure out a way to start over aspect,

In short, whole lotta aspects.

A whole lotta, please show up at my door with coffee in the morning and wine in the evening aspects.

Here’s the thing.

All those aspects were definitely knocking on the door – no – they were banging on the door.

Like the scariest intruder demanding ‘Let me in. Let me in.’

But like all good Boogeymen, they were not real.

Because people who endure divorce are strong.

Certainly strong enough to not be afraid of the average bear or boogeyman.

Strong enough to leave urban or suburban supposedly idyllic utopia. Strong enough to walk away from the masses who seem to have gotten it all right. Strong enough to know they deserve to be treated better and set boundaries and forge a new life in a new world.

Strong enough to thrive and not just survive the dare I say it, divorce aspect??!!

I did not have it figured out a few years ago.

The big question.

How do you get over a divorce?

Until the dust settled and a woman approached me with a wide-open secret.

It seems she was getting divorced. The process had started and there was no going back. Yet for some reason, it wasn’t the time for others to know or to talk about it. Rather it was the time to press on, put on a happy face, and act as if the world hadn’t stopped spinning.

But it had.

A family had ceased to be.

An emotional death no man, woman or child should ever endure.

And this incredibly brave woman could chat, dance and laugh but nothing would bring it back.

She was the widow at the funeral.

Her brave expression stoic while the Irish wake brought songs, stories, and sympathy.

The problem?

This was not a dignified loss.

At least not by society’s rules.

It was one of whispers.

One of shame.

Where mourners show up and try to determine what happened minus the obvious cause of death.

And worse, some say it happened this way and others say that way. Some say she was to blame while others believe he was the culprit.

But this emotionally steel enforced widow holds her head high.

Yet, internally she dreams of screaming while declaring their echoes are battering her farther into the ground.

A physical widow is not judged.

She is unconditionally supported.

An emotional widow is examined on the surface, then again under a microscope and then again in the aftermath of the marital autopsy. Was he or she the cause of death? What a shame. How do we avoid it? How do we talk about something we fear? Is it something we could catch? Should we avoid them?

In both cases, there are immeasurable mountains of grief to scale. 

But the physical widow is surrounded by support minus shame and judgment.

While the emotional widow draws support from some and shame and judgment from others.

Not too long ago, a tired and exasperated woman turned to me and said, “I don’t understand. If I lost my husband people would be sitting with me, showing up with meals, spending time with my children, and asking if there was anything they could do. Why do I feel so isolated? Why don’t people understand I am a single mom now and I am struggling? I can’t seem to put dinner on the table, get my kids everywhere they need to be, make enough money to pay the bills, and my children are suffering.”

I tried my best to comfort her as she was at the beginning of what I now thankfully am leaving behind.

There isn’t the same empathy for emotional death. 

It can; however, leave families in the same predicament if a spouse is lost to alcohol, other addiction, narcissism, abandonment, etc. That parent may still physically be around but the spouse and children have lost them and not to divorce. Divorce was just the end result of an emotional loss long in the making.

And the emotional death of a spouse is most painful for the children who have to grieve the parent they thought they knew in childhood. And reconcile and replace it with the lost parent of today.

We temper divorce when we raise awareness it is not a loss many of us chose but a grief we are forced to endure.

When we begin to talk about emotional death.

And when we accept divorce is what it is –

Rather than the shame, we didn’t live up to what it should have been.

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E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com

 

 

 

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