Somewhere lost in the 1970s, divorce and the stigma of divorce took on a different persona. Beginning in the 1960s and extending throughout the decade of the 70s, divorce forever changed as the introduction of no-fault divorce opened the doors to a new wave of thinking.
Conceptually defined in the 1960s, the five stages of grief were first introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD, in her book On Death and Dying. Although Kubler-Ross was specifically referring to the finite physical loss of a person, research has found that these five psychological stages of grief also manifest when facing the dissolution of a marriage.
Kubler-Ross summarized the five stages of grief for those experiencing the physical loss of a loved one due to death; however, decades of research has proven that each stage also manifests during the loss of a marriage. If you are contemplating divorce, or your spouse has expressed his or her intent to file for divorce, the following summary may help to prepare you for what is to come.
During this first phase of the process, couples tend to lead with their hearts rather than their minds even though one or both fully understand a divorce is inevitable. Denying a life without a life partner, one may imagine or initiate solutions for keeping the marriage intact. Although the solution may seem realistic it becomes a battle fought against all odds. This is often the most vulnerable phase of the process.
Following denial, this second stage may manifest in several different ways. One may not only express anger at his or her spouse but blame the entire universe for his or her marital problems. Unanswered questions and confusion may set in as the grieving spouse feels compelled to let the world know how much of a “heel” his or her soon-to-be ex truly is.
Bargaining, or the third stage, compliments denial and may present with shades of desperation. Promises of negotiation and change accompanied by suggestions of counseling as well as intense guilt trips are used as bargaining chips. One may even go as far as begging family or friends to talk some sense into the offending spouse.
Depression is one of the hardest phases and may present in many different variations. Not only is there an element of psychological effect, there is also the decline of physical well-being. One may feel isolated and disconnected while running through a gambit of uncontrollable emotions. Situational depression accompanied by a lack of sleep, loss of appetite, and perhaps elevated dependence on alcohol or other self-medication practices can only lead to decreased psychological and physical health.
The fifth and final stage offers each spouse the opportunity to make peace with the loss. Although this stage does not miraculously manifest once the divorce has been granted, it will produce a sense of harmony and acceptance as each spouse learns to release the relationship and moves forward with his or her individual lives.
As Kubler-Ross believed that while one can ever be fully prepared for the loss of a partner or loved one, either through death or divorce, knowing what to expect one may be more accepting of the journey.
Whether you are contemplating divorce or your spouse has vocalized his or her intent to divorce, the experienced Naperville divorce attorneys of Sullivan, Taylor & Gumina, P.C. not only provide exceptional legal counsel but will assist with the many questions of the divorce process. Since 1994, our team of dedicated family law attorneys have been assisting clients throughout Chicago’s western suburbs by offering realistic outcomes based on Illinois divorce law. Contact our offices at 630-665-7676 to learn more about our services today.