How do you say good-bye to someone who is still there? A person who has been an integral part of your daily life, shared your adventures and your routine is now gone… and not gone.
Last week I attended a conference by Pauline Boss on Ambiguous Loss. She reminded me that divorce is an example of loss that is indefinite and messy. Signing the final decree ends the divorce process and defines your new legal status. You are divorced now but the person is still there; at events, through friends, extended family, work connections, and/or, of course, children.
We don’t like ambiguity. We prefer control and certainty. We seek a beginning and an end. We crave closure.
In the divorce process it is helpful to find the certainties where possible, and thank goodness there are some. People move into separate homes, disentangle finances, start to plan their own schedules and make independent decisions.
I think it is more difficult to prepare for the many uncertainties; how will you communicate, when will you see each other – intentionally or unintentionally, how do you cope with feeling relieved one minute and anxious the next? It is essential to take time and make space for the emotional challenge of saying a complicated good-bye to someone who is still there.
Remember, in reality we handle ambiguity every day, we just don’t think about it; traffic, weather, other people’s reactions, unexpected phone calls. We survive this by processing what we can and can’t control. When life feels too uncertain do something concrete, something you can control; read a book, do a puzzle, clean the kitchen, talk to a friend.
In the difficult process of divorce recognize that this good-bye is conditional and complicated. Allow time to grieve, to feel confused, and to adjust. Look for opportunities to set personal goals, celebrate independence, affirm inner strengths, spend time with people who are supportive, do things you enjoy and, above all, take good care of yourself.
Tagged with: Ambiguous loss • coping with divorce • ending relationships • getting divorced • saying good-bye to a spouse • seeking closure • self-care in divorce • the uncertainties of divorce