sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Coping with the Emotional Challenges of Gray Divorce

By Brian Joslyn August 29, 2023 Family

While the overall divorce rates appear to be stabilizing, there’s a noticeable upward trend known as “gray divorces.” These divorces involve couples who have spent years building lives together, raising children, and managing shared finances but are now choosing to separate later in life.

Despite their conviction that divorcing in their late 50s or 60s is the best decision for both parties, they often underestimate the emotional toll that a late-life divorce can have. This situation unravels the intricacies of long-term partnerships, underscoring the complex blend of emotions and challenges that arise when ending a marriage during a phase in life when individuals typically anticipate retirement and the enjoyment of their golden years.

Coping with a gray divorce requires a deep understanding of the emotional impact it can have on individuals. It’s crucial to realize that concluding a long-standing partnership can trigger a range of emotions, encompassing sorrow, melancholy, and apprehension regarding what lies ahead.

Managing these feelings involves practicing self-care, reaching out to loved ones for support, and considering professional counseling or therapy. By acknowledging the effects of a late-life divorce and actively confronting emotional hurdles, a path towards healing, personal development, and embracing fresh possibilities in the next phase of life can be paved.

Gray Divorces Still Affect Children

While some couples remain together for the sake of their children, those opting for a gray divorce often underestimate the impact of the divorce on their adult children. Despite these children leading their own lives, the repercussions of such a divorce can be substantial. Grown-up children face unique challenges, including providing emotional support for both parents and dealing with the increased stress of caring for them, which becomes more complicated post-divorce.

Coping with parental divorce is arduous for kids of all ages, yet adults frequently find themselves in the role of emotionally supporting their parents. Additionally, they might grapple with the practical and financial complexities of separately caring for both parents.

In these situations, open discussions and comprehensive care plans are vital. Addressing existing health concerns, honestly discussing care preferences, and setting realistic expectations for your child’s role is pivotal. Enlisting the services of an in-home care agency can help alleviate the physical and emotional burdens of looking after elderly parents after divorce.

Divorce poses challenges regardless of age, but with prudent preparation, support from loved ones, and the aid of caregivers, gray divorce can progress more smoothly, particularly for individuals over 60.

Priorities Shift After a Late Life Divorce

Moving from marriage to singledom frequently triggers a change in attention toward individual priorities. This phase offers a chance to reflect on your personal identity and aspirations, instead of just conforming to external demands. For older couples going through a divorce, this stage involves shifting energy toward introspection.

However, after a gray divorce, it can be emotionally challenging to let go of your previous priorities and navigate the process of identifying new ones for yourself. This includes assessing your life, goals, past mistakes, and deriving lessons from those experiences. During this process, priorities are reevaluated, leading individuals to uncover what genuinely matters in their lives.

Dealing with Loneliness After a Gray Divorce

Even if couples find themselves happier and healthier after a late-life divorce, the unexpected challenge of loneliness can take an emotional toll. The absence of a partner and the void left by lost companionship can be profound. Alongside this, significant life changes often lead to shifts in social circles, intensifying feelings of isolation. Loneliness is a common concern among older adults, and divorcing later in life can amplify this sentiment.

Although it takes time, readjusting your social network becomes crucial for your overall well-being in this new life phase. Maintaining connections with friends and family, participating in community events, attending religious gatherings, and involving yourself in volunteer activities can all help rebuild your social ties.

In-home caregivers can also play a vital role by offering companionship and support, including organizing gatherings or arranging transportation for social engagements, especially if mobility challenges or lack of transportation are factors.

Lost Sense of Self Worth After a Divorce

Following a gray divorce, many individuals grapple with a significant blow to their self-worth, often experiencing feelings of unattractiveness and unworthiness. The discovery that a former spouse has moved on to a new partner can deeply undermine confidence, leaving a profound sense of inadequacy, especially if the spouse’s new partner is younger.

It’s a harsh reality to face when one’s ex-partner appears to have taken a leap forward in life, leaving behind a feeling of devastation. Being seemingly replaced by a newer, more vibrant version can be particularly disheartening. Regardless of age, these experiences can lead to self-doubt and a negative self-perception.

Overcoming this emotional pit can be a struggle. However, small steps towards self-care, such as making an effort to get dressed each day, can gradually help rebuild a sense of identity and self-esteem. Even when the desire might be to stay in casual attire all day, dressing up can make a significant difference in how one feels, contributing to a positive self-image and newfound confidence.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What was most difficult for you when going through divorce? Have you experienced any problems you didn’t foresee? How did you handle them? How did your grown children react to your divorce?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Most people die alone. its not a big deal. They go to sleep and don’t wake up. if they’re in a group living they have friends and staff. Its so unrealistic to get with a guy for this reason. Not worth it at all. They wont be there for you anyway. Make new friends. Families are overrated.


I was more alone being married. Wake up, most men are couch potatoes and boring. They want a mother & take no responsibility for their feelings. Ask yourself
What would this do for me? I found the answer was nothing. Wanting a guy because your lonely is lazy.

Stephanie Bryant

I’m here. It’s a jungle out there, seemingly nice men turn into inappropriate animals even on the first date. You can’t meet men in person anymore. That’s the only way I know how to judge a person.
I am lonely, and settled in every other aspect of my life at this point, since we separated, except companionship. I want to be loved, cared for and build my self-esteem as nice compliments I don’t wanna die alone like my mother, very sad situation.


All about what you want and not about what you’re going to supply to the “inappropriate animals” that you call men.

The Author

Brian Joslyn is a family law and divorce attorney practicing in the state of Ohio. Brian handles cases involving divorce, separation, spousal support, child support and more. Brian has devoted his life to principles of fairness and justice in the treatment of his clients and the outcomes he seeks on their behalf.

You Might Also Like