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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are you over it yet?

Congratulations on your divorce?@!?

Was visiting with a friend the other day about our divorces, and the fact that so often people really don’t have a clue.  Actually, have had this conversation multiple times since I started blogging.  That individual indicated he had actually received some cards from well intentioned friends who congratulated him on the divorce.  He and I agreed it isn't really something you feel ought to be congratulated….it is more about loss, failure, disappointment and the shattering of life.  Even if you are finally out of an awful situation, there is still a great deal of grief and hurt over it all…it just isn't a good thing to experience. 

Another piece of this whole thing is that folks here in the United States really don’t get grief, and even more so when it is the grief of divorce.  After a death, all too often people expect the grieving widow or child to be better a few weeks later, to be moving on in life within a few months at most.  But those of you who have been through it know that time frames like that are not realistic.  In fact, times frames are always artificial constructs, because everybody is different and processes grief in their own time and way.  But divorce, well, that grief can be never ending, because the complications of the aftermath can drag on a very long time, and be refreshed as new issues arise year by year.  In fact, I had a woman ask me today when things finally get settled.  After asking whether or not there were children and learning there were, I passed along a comment a friend had given to me:  “It never really ends until one of you dies.”  That is why I use the phrase “divorced to” instead of “divorced from;” the entanglements just continue to pop up when you think they should be over.

I continue to find it stunning how different the reactions are I meet as I discuss the book, between people who have been divorced (or worked closely with someone who was) and those who have no experience of divorce.  The congratulations cards is a pretty good illustration.  People who deal with divorcing folks or who have been there; meet the book with a real understanding and sense of gratefulness that a new help is available.  Others think, “it’s a nice idea, good luck with that.”  But somehow I suspect that the core issue is the same as with grief at death:  people who haven’t been there think it should be no big deal and one should get over it quickly.  The truth is, the scars are for a lifetime, the hurts heal slowly and things can just be hard to deal with time and time again. 

Having said those things, let me raise another thought.  I have kind of moved us into a discussion of children, at least for a while.  If the process of grieving and healing is difficult for adults going through divorce, and takes a lifetime for them, how much harder would you suppose it might be for children who have much less maturity and much fewer life skill experiences to deal with their parents’ divorce?  Sure they adapt to the changes, but that doesn't mean it is easy, or good, or that they are healed inside.  It means they survive.  In fact, if you know very many children of divorce, you observe that survival skills are the one thing they hone best.  Maybe that’s a good thing, because survival skills come in handy in life.  But the kids I know in divorce learn the survival skills of becoming hard for self-preservation and learning to manipulate situations; not particularly great skills to have.  No, adults and children both need time to heal, patience and understanding by those who care for them and acknowledgement that they have been changed as they face the tragedy of divorce.  I guess a key question is whether or not you are willing to be the kind of person who grants that care and understanding, providing safe space for those struggling with divorce in your world. 

By the way, thanks for the responses to my questions given so far.  I am still collecting input on the following issues:

1)    If you have been a child of divorce, are there things you wish you could tell your parents about what helped or what made it harder?
2)   If you are a parent, are there things you wish you could tell your children that you have avoided lest it create more problems?  Things that you really wish they understood?
3)   If you are either, and have experienced something that really helped or was a good idea, would you be willing to share it?
All names will be kept confidential, and don’t even have to be submitted.  If you are a child from divorce, it might be helpful if you gave your current age range (teens, 20’s, etc).

TL:dr  The grief of divorce is NOT short lived….neither for the adults involved nor the children.  

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