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  • Midtown Mediation

How to Successfully Grieve your Marriage

We all know the importance of facing the devastating grief of losing a loved one, but have you considered grieving the loss of your marriage?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the seven stages of grief in the 1960's and they became quite popular for understanding and working through the grief process. For those not familiar, they were:

  1. Shock

  2. Denial

  3. Anger

  4. Bargaining

  5. Depression

  6. Acceptance and Hope

  7. Processing Grief

More recently, experts have been doing a deeper dive into what like looks like from a neurological perspective and the findings are quote fascinating - I highly recommend the Andrew Huberman Podcast, The Huberman Lab, on grief, click the here button to listen.

But what exactly does this all mean practically speaking? I find it helpful when working with clients to give tangible, task oriented steps to aid in the grief process.

Here are two of my favourites:

  1. Write a letter to your ex to thank them.

This one alway gets people's back up, but stay with me here for a minute... No matter how poorly your relationship ended, at one point you loved this person and chose to be joined together to create a life and family with them. Thank them for that life. For the lessons you learned, for the fun you had, for the kids you share, for the person you became through knowing and loving them. This is tied closely to forgiveness (remember, we forgive for ourselves, not for the other person), and closure. Part of the acceptance stage of grieving is to be able to accept the circumstances, and take accountability for your part in it. Only when we close the chapter on the past can we truly welcome in the present.

This letter writing exercise is also important for self awareness and personal development. We don't want to be repeating the same mistakes in our relationships moving forward, so let's ensure that we know what those mistakes were, why we made them in the first place, and celebrate the person we are now - someone who knows not to let history repeat itself!

I should note - you are not to give the letter to your ex, this is just for you. Once you've written it, burn it, shred it, toss it in your sock drawer, whatever you want, this is for YOU! and you alone.

2. Update your sleep hygiene.

We all know the importance of sleep for the bodies restorative properties - well this includes grief as it is a physical manifestation of the emotional toll. Undoubtedly, if you are a human trying to live in this world, you are connected to your phone at all times of day. We all know it is harmful, but that is the reality of the world we live in, so I am not going to tell you what you already know and ignore (no devices in the bedroom, wear blue light blocking glasses, turn off all notifications, etc...;) don't worry, I'm not going to lecture on those!)

What I am going to suggest are two small changes: get 15-30 minutes of direct sunlight every morning (ditch the sunglasses!), ideally as soon as you wake up. So have your coffee on your porch or front steps instead of on the couch or at your desk! Secondly, avoid all screens from 10pm-4am.

As we learn more about grief and how it manifests in the body, the more we realize that taking care of the body to allow it to heal is of the utmost importance. So try to get outside, get some fresh air, move your body, see friends and family that bring you joy, take time for gratitude and for yourself.

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