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Divorced at 60? How to Deal with Your Grief and Start Healing

By Martha Bodyfelt June 03, 2016 Family

Grief is a tricky thing. We understand the process during the death of a loved one but forget its role during divorce, especially if when ending a decades-long marriage.

Not allowing yourself to grieve during divorce means not giving yourself the chance to heal and move on with the next chapter in your life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The #1 Thing to Remember When Grieving Divorce: It’s Like Death and It’s Okay to Mourn

It is completely normal to feel like your world has crashed into a million pieces and that you will never recover from divorce, especially when you were married for a huge part of your life.

Be kind to yourself during this process. After all, you are actually reeling from multiple deaths during divorce:

  • Death of your marriage
  • Death of the life you thought you knew
  • Death of the vision that you thought you knew how retirement would be
  • Death of your own identity as a partner and a member of a team

These losses are often overwhelming.

Remember, you don’t have to just swallow your pain and act tough. Be kind to yourself, as you are experiencing something awful and traumatic that has shaken your world and the life you thought you knew.

Unless you’re made of stone, you will feel like you have been hit by a freight train during a time of your life when you thought you could finally take a break and relax.

It is okay to be angry, scared, and panicked. The trick comes in showing yourself enough compassion to make peace with your loss, but motivated enough to not let it hold you prisoner. There are so many beautiful things in this world, just waiting for you to discover them.

Remember that starting over at any age – even when you feel too tired to do so – is always possible.

Turning Your Grief Into New Insights

Moving through divorce after 50 presents you with the gift of insight. It allows you to ask yourself powerful introspective questions that will help you move on. Some of these may include:

What emotions can I not get my head around that seem to be ruining my life right now?

How will I mindfully manage these emotions so they do not hold me prisoner?

I cannot change the past. Moving forward, what steps will I take to ensure that I will heal?

What lessons could I learn from this loss that will help me in the future?

Acknowledging your grief, how it is holding you back and what you can learn from it lets you tune into a part of yourself that you may not have been acquainted with before the divorce. Listen to that part of yourself. She can help guide you through this transition.

Learning from Your Mistakes Without Blaming Yourself

As with most lessons in life, what we learn while processing divorce grief is only as valuable as our willingness and our ability to put them into context. Grieving the loss of a marriage lets us look back and reflect. It also teaches us how we can handle situations different in the future.

This approach takes much self-awareness but without it, it may be very hard to heal. Some questions to ask yourself on the road to healing may include the following.

What are some of the things that I blame myself for?

What are some of the regrets that I still harbor that I have not let go?

How can I change those feelings into something positive moving forward?

The ability to acknowledge past mistakes can be a gift, as long as you learn how to move beyond them and not continually blame yourself for a past you cannot change.

Getting the Divorce Support You Need and Holding Yourself Accountable

Regardless of where you are in the process – whether the divorce papers were signed years ago and you are still wondering how to move on with your life, or you are knee-deep in divorce drama right now, one of the strongest things you can do is reach out for support and remember that you do not have to grieve alone.

Many women feel like their divorce is a mark of shame and do not get the support they need to help them heal.

As a way of ensuring that you will get the support you need, make the following pledges to yourself:

By the end of today, I will…

By the end of the week, I will…

By the end of the month, I will…

These accountability pledges can be as simple or as detailed as you want – the point is to set that intention to reach out for divorce grief support and follow up on it.

Grieving the loss of your marriage is not an overnight process. Neither is it a life sentence that will keep you from moving on. Mourning your loss in a healthy manner, learning from your mistakes and getting the support you need are all methods that will help you move on.

Remember to show yourself compassion and the journey to the next chapter of your life is entirely possible.

Did you experience grief during your divorce? How did you process it? What did you not expect about being divorced at 50 or 60? What would you recommend to other women experiencing the same? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach who helps professional divorced women over 50 overcome their divorce loneliness and break free from the patterns keeping them stuck so they can feel fulfilled, have more fun, and live fearlessly. To find out what's *really* keeping you stuck after divorce, take the 30-second quiz.

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