Grief and Divorce

With my job as a hospice chaplain, I have online training due every month that covers various aspects of my job. In addition to being the chaplain, I also am bereavement coordinator and volunteer coordinator. I watched a refresher on the models of grief yesterday. As I looked at the various models, I saw how one particular model related to the process of my separation and divorce.

A pastor told me before the separation officially occurred that a divorce is similar to a death. I could not see the similarities until I was alone and walking through it. The grief model that related to my divorce is called the phase model, presented in 1980 by Bowlley. The phases are numbness/shock, yearning/searching, disorganization/despair, and reorganization. 

Initially, I was numb. I tried to respond spiritually. I said all the right things and had all the responses a “good Christian” should. However, it was fake. TOTALLY FAKE!

Then I began yearning and searching. I knew that ministry as I knew it was probably over, so I began to figure out how I would make it with my new life. I looked to set up my new life in a place where I had no past connections. That would have been the stupidest thing I could have done. I needed the support system of the people in the area where I live. These folks were wonderful to me, and many stayed in contact the year I was away. I left on such a high note, and I thought that the people here would look at my life as a failure. I also did not want to be questioned to death about how everything fell apart. They did not respond this way. Many people walked with me through this process.

My life was definitely disorganized and full of despair. I was unemployed and got out of bed to take my son to school. I would hang out with friends or just lay in bed until I had to pick my son up. I would apply for jobs and wait for something to happen. After two months, things slowly began to come together. I was beginning to reorganize. I am still doing that to some degree. 

I tell my story in hopes that God will use it to help someone who is going through separation and divorce. There is life after divorce. But the grieving process is one we must address. Don’t self-medicate with another toxic relationship. Work through your grief. Let God heal your heart. Get into a DivorceCare group or other support group. Don’t use it as a dating service but as a place to learn from others who are walking a similar journey. I would suggest that you find a mentor. I knew several men who knew the sting of divorce. They were an awesome support system. 

Most importantly, seek the Lord with all your being. Let Him fill the voids that divorce leaves. He understands your pain. Cry out to Him. He is the Friend of a wounded heart.

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