The Cycle of Grief - Separation and Divorce

Separation and Emotions

Emotions experienced before, during and after separation are those of grief at losing the family unit as we know it. A range of emotions can surface in any order, at any time, for different periods. Everyone experiences grief differently.

The Cycle of Grief

Shock - feeling numb

Denial - disbelief and pretending that this is not happening

Anger - frustrated outpouring of bottled up emotions

Bargaining - trying to find a way out; to resolve the situation, or to try to start again

Depression/Isolation - realising that it is going to happen

Acceptance - finding a way forward

Change - looking for real solutions to move on and be focused


Tips On Dealing With Grief

  • Take 'time out' just for you even if it's only 10 minutes a day

  • Eat regular meals that include fruit and vegies

  • Read a book , listen to music

  • Exercise, walk

  • Get a good sleep

  • Cry as long as as often as you need

  • Talk about your feelings, either with a friend or a professional



Work through your anger by keeping a journal or writing letters (do not mail them).

Talk or shout it out. Instead of taking your anger out on your ex, talk to a friend or seek professional help with someone who specializes in anger management.

Take responsibility for your part of the relationship break-up. It's rare that only one partner is solely at fault. Recognising what makes you angry can help to find the triggers and old patterns so that you can take steps to stop repeating them.

Think about the important issues. Talking about every little irritation provokes resentment - let go of the small stuff.



Denial is a natural coping mechanism for things that happen which we don't really want to see. Be honest with yourself and ask -

  • What are the thoughts or situations I have been trying to avoid?
  • What have I rejected because it is too close to home?
  • Is there some truth in it. If so, what can I do about it?

 Face your behaviour, make a plan to improve it and then stay with it.



Sometimes when you are depressed it is hard to get any enjoyment out of life. It may help to get back into routine and try to do more things that you enjoy. Re-establish familiar routines and get some exercise. If your depression persists, speak to your doctor or seek counselling.



Ask yourself:

  • What would the situation look like in 12 months time if I did.... this.... ?
  • What would the benefits be?



Establish a plan for the future and set goals for 3 months, 6 months, 12 months ahead and act on you goals.


Did you know

  • That the period of adjustment for families going through separation can range anywhere from 1 to 3 years?
  • Children also experience the grief process when parents separate. They may not know how to say it but might show it through things like being clingy or crying, or not being able to focus on school work. The best thing parent's can do for their children during this period is to allow them to express their feelings and most importanlty, not to inculde them in the parent's conflict.