We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. – C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis
I was not one of those people who left her marriage the same way she got into it, partying. There was no celebration on that final day. No cake. No dancing. It took me some time to finally see the benefits of divorce, where I once only saw… destruction.
Divorce is not easy.
I think that is the case for most good-hearted people. Divorce is a death… of someone still living. I think that is one reason why so many abuse victims stay much longer than they should. We know that it’s going to cause emotional damage (not counting the fear of harm). Who is ever prepared for that?
Even when you don’t necessarily miss the person, or especially their character (the lacked integrity) and their narcissistic rage… but we still have to mourn what we thought we had (and accept what is true)… as we experience the feelings and the loss.
The loss and grief.
With loss comes feelings of shock, rejection, abandonment, uncertainty, isolation, hopelessness, confusion, shame, and guilt. Those are all normal feelings because of what you have been through. It’s all a part of the grief process.
Just like with death, there is now a hole where someone used to be. The only difference is you have to watch this other person move on with his life, with someone else (acting all happy like something is different 😉 ) while you’re still picking up the pieces of the destruction left behind. There is an empty house when the kids are gone. The family unit is now torn in two. This is a real physical loss… so of course, there would be real physical pain coming with.
Like un-baking a cake. Separating ingredients that were once mixed together. It will be painful.
Also, sometimes us ladies create illusions in our head (often fueled by movies and drama) of how things should be. We might remember the good times. Hope he has changed. We hold fast to those dreams and good memories while forgetting the bad. This causes our pain to worsen. It’s only when you honestly take an inventory of the gains and losses that you can decipher the truth from the lies.
Don’t avoid the pain pretending it wasn’t a death… even if it’s just the death of a dream.
Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it? ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
What to do with the pain?
Some try to numb their pain with busyness, with drugs or alcohol, with dating (way too soon) and sex, or other poor choices. Looking to replace the loss with a distraction is destructive. Things that mask the pain never allow you to heal. We can choose to bypass the pain or walk straight through it. Only one leads to a healthy future.
See pain for what it really is. Part of the healing process. Not something to escape from. That’s why we call it suffering… it hurts.
Divorce is a death. Not comparable to that of a loving, caring spouse tragically dying, I’m sure. But a great loss nonetheless. You need to acknowledge the feelings and work through the pain…
[God] You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. – Psalm 56:8 NLT [Brackets mine.]
Healing is a process. Change won’t happen overnight. There will be lots of starts and stops. I honestly believe the real healing process cannot even begin until the divorce is final (all the papers signed and delivered).
The healing will come if you allow time to heal your heart. You will grieve like it’s a death, but you will get through it. You just have to convince yourself that he is gone. That the marriage is over. And there are no other options.
[Also Read: Journal Through Your Divorce Healing]
Lastly, I also do not think healing happens when around the source which hurt you. I think with separation needs to come clear boundaries. I know there might be these superhero-type people in the world that can hide their bleeding soul while hosting joint birthday parties and Christmas dinners. For the rest of us, deeply hurt people, space and time are needed to properly heal the wounds.
I believe with death can come new birth… and new growth. I believe God will work it all out, after divorce. And things will be better on the other side of our suffering. There is hope for a better future. Hold onto that hope!
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4 NLT
Feel free to share your story in the comments below. Share how you’re surviving this time of mourning.
May God bless your healing journey,
How long? I am nine months into a year long mandatory separation (state law). I have suffered so much under my husband that it was only weeks after he left that I made my list and began to thank God for my pending divorce. I have seen him only twice in nine months (total 30 mins.) and communicated only occasionally by email. I long for those final papers. So how long before I can get past thinking about what he has done to me and how he has wasted my life? I don’t want him back. He was not good. I’m not confused about that. My children (all older) support me. The Lord has been my comfort. I so want to move on with future hopes and dreams, but it seems my own mind imprisons me.
Jen Grice says
Hi Stephanie. I cannot tell you how long it will take to heal from your separation and divorce because each person is different (I’ve heard 3 years post divorce – if working through healing – is the happy place). I realize waiting that year, plus, leaves you in a state of limbo. I feel for you. But thankfully that year is almost up, you can work through the divorce, and then start reclaiming your life. Seek God during this time for strength. Prepare yourself for the court stuff ahead, learning to depend on Him to protect you. While keeping your eyes on Jesus and the cross through this time. You will be in my prayers. Keep me posted if you can. God bless.
Jen, thank you for sharing your heart. I’ve been divorced for just a year. I still find it difficult to believe after 29 years, this is where I’m at. Divorce is definitely a death; of a dream, a lifestyle & a relationship. I find it difficult to move forward & forget that former life/relationship, even though he has found someone new to share life with. Limping forward, towards what God has for me ….
Jen Grice says
Hello, Lisa. The goal of this blog is to be here for you in this journey. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Crawl if you need to. Lay down for awhile and rest at Jesus’ feet. But as long as you keep moving in some sort of direction… you are going to be okay. Maybe even better someday. That’s my hope for you. God’s got you!
Pam D. says
Lisa, you will make it thru this! I was married for 22 years and also found it hard to believe where I was at. It will get better! I will keep you in my thoughts & prayers!
Pam D. says
Hi Jen! Another right on blog! Divorce is a death and we have to go thru a period of grief before we
can move on. There were times I was ok with it and other times I literally crawled my way thru. I also
kept a journal before and after the divorce. It’s been 19 yrs now…..occasionally I will read my journal
entries and do not recognize the person I was then! I too wanted the pain and suffering to pass by quickly. I now realize that as long as I was pressing into Jesus and slowly moving forward I was healing. I agree that 3 years seems to be the happy place! Thank you again for your ministry!
Jen Grice says
Thank you very much, again, Pam! I so appreciate your support and encouragement here, for me and for others. God bless!
Jen thank you for your honest and open heart. I have been separated for 4 months from 25 years of marriage with its ups and downs , all the children are gone, and living their lives. He planned to leave for all his justified reasons, but he also closed the Church and Alienated our children ( a blended family) and now they have taken sides and not speaking to each other except for one who refuses to take sides and I love her the more for that , so I have lost my marriage, my family, my church, my church family, and left with all the bills and destruction that seems like it is never ending!! My second marriage and the pain has to get masked or I can’t function. I read and talk to My Savior waiting for answers that have not come, I just want to get away , from all the noise in my head so I stay busy, but the truth is I am exhausted,. I can tak any more loss so I scream out to you Lord! Helpppppp.
Jen Grice says
God is with you! Glad to have you here, walking with this community of divorcing/divorced women to healing and restoration.
My divorce was just final this week after a 17 month separation. He is the one that left and would have let the separation go on indefinitely, I think, but I needed closure. I finally had to file myself. Now I feel like I can start moving forward and heal. I have been keeping myself busy this last year and a half, just to make it through the limbo. Thank you for your words of hope. My friend sent your blog to me and I will thank her, too.
Jen Grice says
Good for you Susan! You’re welcome.
My divorce came 18 months after he started another relationship. and now another 6 months has passed. In this time I have come to know god and I really mean know God. I pray and he answers and gives me signs all the time. But, I did not want divorce and was really happy. My husband was amazing and a christian. He said, He couldn’t take my complaining (asking for help around the house and with taxes each year). But, I had dreamed of our retirement together and was eagerly anticipating our best summer ever when he told me there was someone else. I had to quit my job because I could not function. And now I try to move forward, but God is holding me down…..I have searched and searched for a new job that God may have for me, but there is nothing. Why is God holding me down. I have confessed every sin that I can think of. I do have enough to get by for another 6 months, but moving forward may not be what God wants.
Jen Grice says
Good to hear you are following God’s lead. You will be rewarded richly for your faith in Him. God bless!
Thank you Jen, your words are perfectly timed. My divorce finalized last month, 375 days after he left. Even though I had time to process and grow during the separation (and did God ever use that time to grow me and open my eyes!), grief on the divorce day and since has been unexpectedly difficult. Ultimately, just like you said, my grief is for the loss of the dream not the loss of the way I was treated. Thank you for sharing that this grief is ok, and that we shouldn’t hide from it; that true healing is found by acknowledging and walking through the pain. God loves me and will use this experience for His plan for me. It’s hard to remember that sometimes when it all feels so overwhelming. Thank you for your words and encouragement.
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome. I’m glad to encourage you with your healing.
After a 40 year marriage and four grown children, he walked away to “find his happiness”. Your words are right on. It is a death. A death of a life you thought you were living forever. With the help of a counselor I have learned that the emotional waves will come farther apart and fewer. It’s been six years, he found someone two years after he left, and I find I survived and only have to endure the waves now and then. I also learned that the victim is the only one that does the work needed to be better. At the age of 71, divorce is a long lonely road to travel.
Jen Grice says
I’m so glad you found my website and shared on this post. You are not alone here! We’re glad to have you along on this journey to healing.
Jim W. says
Thank you for so eloquently explaining what I felt after my divorce. We parted amicably – “it just doesn’t work”. Shouldn’t this have been easy then? Know that for a man as well (me), the pain following was exactly like someone, “The Marriage”, died. Even worse, I came to realize that I probably killed it.
“The Marriage” wasn’t hit by a car and suddenly taken, it was a long terminal illness with many nights of suffering and pain until at last “The Marriage” breathed its last breath. Not only did Hopes and Dreams die in the same tragedy, but Remorse and Shame were born to take their place. In retrospect, I had access to Dr. Jesus who could have cured our ill, but Pride got in the way, and Pride too finally died a painful – and deserved – death. Broken at last, with only Remorse and Shame to accompany me, I wallowed in my grief. But God (my favorite prepositional phrase) intervened, bringing me to Jesus to heal my wounds. Even better, also new life with a new wife. The Second Chance Marriage is healthy and well. Probably because knowing my diagnostic and treatment skills are not equal to His, we’ve chosen to adhere to the teaching of Dr. Jesus NOW rather than waiting until it’s too late. For more than 30 years, that wellness plan has been working. Praise God!
I was married 25 years. I came home from work and he was leaving. I supported him. Took care of him. He didn’t work for 4 years after a wreck and he said I don’t want a family, can’t do it anymore. Said it was 90% our son’s fault and 10 percent mine. It was about money he said. I got a loan to pay off his debt. But he couldn’t do it anymore. Couldn’t stand up to our son when he got in trouble for weed or stayed out all hous of the night. But remember the problem was 99% our son and 10% me. Wow. But me I am 60 years old that was my life, my security and boom my life imploded. No home no husband no family. So now I am numb don’t care whether I live or die. Actually have thought of ways to commit suicide just want to make sure it’s done right. I was a vibrant exciting full of life woman until that night of 2/7/22. I died