Divorce after 60 may be painful, but, at least it is no longer a taboo subject. It’s also a challenge that more and more women are facing as our generation ages.
In fact, I would guess that about half of the women in our community have been divorced at least once in their life. I’m one of them. It took me months to be able to breathe normally after my divorce. My trust and self-confidence took years to return.
As women, divorce changes us in fundamental ways. In the beginning, it amplifies our insecurities. Longer-term, it can be an opportunity for growth and happiness.
At the end of the painful process, a new woman emerges. I’ve written my own thoughts, in the past, regarding how to recover from a divorce after 60. You can read about the “stages of ex” that most women go through here.
That said, with over 100,000 women in the Sixty and Me community, I was sure that there were many other great ideas out there. After all, we have all experienced divorce in one way or another. Either we have been through a separation ourselves. Or, we have seen someone that we love struggle to recover from a divorce.
With this in mind, I recently asked the women in our community to tell us what advice they would give to a friend who is going through a divorce. As I have come to expect, their advice was honest, insightful and, occasionally, humorous. Here is their advice.
Maria says, “I grieved for the marriage I lost. I knew that I couldn’t put it back together no matter how hard I tried. I would just let my friend know that I was there for her, anytime. I would listen to what she wanted to say without judgement.”
Jan suggests that “Friends should just listen without giving advice.”
Denise says, “Sometimes we need to be listened to. Other times, we want somebody to give us some tools to get us through the turmoil.”
Alice, who got divorced after 24-years of marriage, offers the following advice: “I went through a few months of sadness and despair. I got through it by renewing my faith, rekindling my old friendships and reframing my life.”
Barbara gives some advice from her mother, who said, “You can be bitter or BETTER!”
Deirdre would tell a friend, “Well done for taking such a big leap. All my friends who went through a divorce ended up looking slimmer, younger, happier and more independent. Give yourself time and try not to turn to food and drink.”
Kathy advises, “Take as much time as you need to grieve.”
Amanda would encourage a friend by saying, “Go for it. Remember: not all men the same!”
Diane would remind a friend, “Open a new chapter in your life. Stop reading the old ones.”
Margaret is realistic with her advice. She says, “Expect the loss to go beyond your spouse. You often lose friends and family members as well. Believe in yourself and build an authentic life, despite the heartache and challenges.”
Cristina says the most important advice she can offer is “Don’t forget to make friends. They are your support, your understanding and your company. They are EVERYTHING”
Elizabeth has some ideas. She says, “Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Keep busy, explore your interests and don’t get bogged down feeling sorry for yourself.”
Janíce talks to women who say they just want their divorce to be over. “No matter how much you’re looking forward to it being over, you may be caught by surprise when it actually is. Take your time and work through it so you can get on with your life.”
JB offers, “Take this time to explore the passions that you shelved during your ‘family-devoted’ years. Become the best you that you can be. This is a time for sunrises, not sunsets. Sculpt a last act worthy of a standing ovation.”
Katheryn looks back on her own divorce and says, “During my divorce, I finally recognized my own potential. Now I need to pursue those gifts.”
Lynda has an idea to share. Her suggestion is “Celebrate wildly! Let your hair down and realize that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want and with whomever you want.”
Serendipity thinks of divorce as getting your life back. She says, “Divorce is a chance to do new things, meet new people, go to college and revamp yourself. The best revenge is to look good and enjoy your freedom.”
Hortensia comments, “There is life after a divorce. See it as a new experience. Remember that your happiness only depends on you.”
Athanasia says, “There are still plenty of fish in the ocean. Keep your head up and always remember you are worth a million dollars.”
Anne reassures women dealing with divorce when she says, “We are all out here, waiting for you to join our sisterhood. There IS life after divorce or widowhood. Do not be afraid. Step bravely into your new world.”
Gennie says, “Being alone is better than being with just anybody.”
Augusta says, “Just keep going slow. Be quiet and resilient.”
Alix comments, “Know that you will come through this. Treat yourself as you would a friend in the same situation, with love and gentleness and generosity and honesty.”
Linda has a practical suggestion when she says, “Make sure all of your financial ducks are in a row. Money is what you need to survive!”
Joy says, “It’s never too late to make a fresh start! Give yourself time to adapt and enjoy your new independence.”
Fay says, “By all means, grieve… but, then, move on. Your life is just about to become something great.”
Karen’s advice is, “Do not expect love in your 50s or 60s to be the same as it was in your 20s and 30s. Your hormones have changed and so have men. When you are ready for love again, cut yourself a LOT of slack.”
Sophie really sums it up when she says, “Just take one day at a time. Divorce is not the end… it is a new beginning.”
Magdalena says, “It takes time, but, don´t worry. You can emerge from the storm wiser and more beautiful.”
Kimberly offers, “Be kind to yourself and learn something new.”
Kate says, “Meet with friends and find new interests. A divorce is the time for new beginnings.”
Margaret says, “Be strong, be yourself and don’t let anyone dictate your future. Talk to your family and friends. Take time to grieve. Then go out and celebrate a new life. Buy yourself something new and colorful to wear.”
Mary agrees, “Open the champagne!”
Elisabeth says, “Sometimes you have to replace sad with mad. This may not feel authentic at first, but, it helps you get your moxy back.”
Josephine says, “I was in shock but it does gets better. Now, I can do what I want and go where I want. Don’t make decisions too soon.”
Joan says, “The best is yet to come.”
Karen adds, “Start living life FOR YOU.”
Brenda says, “It’s your choice. You can be a victim or a survivor… but you can’t be both at the same time.”
Shirley suggests, “Buy a motor bike, learn to ride and never look back.”
Diane says. “Maybe you will be happier now that you don’t have to please anyone else. It is hard to imagine right now… when the pain fades, you will understand.”
Rachel’s advice? “Live for today. Freedom! Nothing like it.”
Phyllis offers, “Take your time. Stay close to friends and family. Be good to yourself.”
Andy says, “Never blame yourself. Love yourself. Do not be fooled into thinking that the pain will go away quickly – it’s a long, hard struggle. Get out as much as you can.
Maggie offers a simple piece of advice. “Love yourself and shout yippee.”
Linda points out that “Getting a divorce is the hardest time in your life. Feelings will evolve and the struggle will ease. Every divorce is unique for the couple involved, so listen to your own feelings not the people who want to tell their own stories; this is yours.”
Margaret says, “Take care of YOU.”
Kathy reminds us, “You didn’t make it this far without being strong. That courage belongs to you…not your ex.”
Dorna says, “You had a long time to decide why you wanted a divorce. Remember your reasons.”
Joy says, “Give it time. Love yourself.”
Lorna offers, “You are now free to build your life, without any stress. You are lucky that you had the courage to do it.”
Sheila says, “It will get better. Happiness will come. Love yourself.”
Monica adds, “The only way out is through. Look for the light at the end of the tunnel and move forward.
Carol’s advice is to “Find your true self. Living well is the best revenge.”
Debbie says, “There is a lot of life left in you yet, so, enjoy your new freedom.”
Patricia would remind a friend that “Time is a great healer. Take care of yourself and know that you are a lot stronger that you think.”
Leslie says, “Hang in there, it gets better with each passing day.”
Pinsey has a positive suggestion when she says, “Don’t grieve! You have already wasted enough time. Think about a time when you were MOST happy without your husband. Be positive.”
Shirley suggest you pray a lot.
Marilyn says, “Remind yourself that your marriage didn’t fail. It worked for a long time… then it didn’t. It may be the end of a hugely important phase in your life… but it is also the beginning of a brand new one.”
Susan says, “Don’t make any major decisions. You don’t have to. Take your time and heal.”
One thing is clear. Many of the women in our community have dealt with divorce. They have also picked up the pieces and reinvented their lives. This is really the message that runs through all of these comments.
Divorce after 60 is hard, but, it is not just an end… it is also a beginning. You are a wonderful, caring person and you deserve all of the happiness that this world can offer!
Have you been through a divorce? What advice would you give to another woman in our community who may be going through this difficult experience? Please join the conversation.