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How to Mourn the End of your Marriage



I can still remember the day I got married.


I was stood at the back of the church. My dad’s job was to walk me down the aisle slowly – the vicar had told him specifically that brides tend to race down but we needed to take our time.


I remember thinking that this was the first day of the rest of my life, that this man wanted to make future plans with me. I don’t think we had everything mapped out, we knew we both wanted children and I already had a dog and we were in love. The rest was to be discovered.


A life ahead of us. We were both mid 30’s so no spring chickens about but we could hope for at least 50 years together.


So what happens when marriage ends?


What happens when that partner you created your future dreams with is no longer the person in those dreams. Regardless of how it came to end, what happens to the dreams? Do they wait for someone else or do they die?


It may not be obvious to see divorce as a bereavement, but it is a loss. It is something you grieve.


But do you know how to mourn your marriage?


When your marriage ends it’s not just the end of a relationship to that person you once loved. It’s the end of the hopes and dreams you had when you first got married, it’s the end or an era.


There’s so many more associated losses too:

You may have to move house, sell your car, lose possessions you once shared, the status of being married and financial security.

relationships with others change, so often I hear of friends feeling like they have to choose a side.


You lose your children, maybe completely but probably you lose having full time responsibility for them. You may share them with the person you’ve come to despise and don’t trust anymore.


When you are bereaved by death you would usually get a lot of compassion from friends and family. They might make meals for you, hold your hand at the funeral, pop round for coffee, listen as you recall memories and sob.


But what happens when your marriage is over?

Friends choose sides or judge you, you feel

guilty, family members point the finger or maybe they are angry.


But you certainly don’t get to be the widow in black and mourn for 40 days.


So how can you mourn when people won’t let you grieve?


First you need to grieve and here are some ideas to help you do that:


1. Allow yourself to feel the pain. The stages of grief set out by Kuber Ross are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. However there’s a whole load of other feelings to be expressed as well. These are all perfectly normally ways to feel after such a loss. Allow yourself to feel them.


2. Find Support. Don’t worry about those that have turned your back on you, this is very hard for you but it’s no walk in the park for them either. Forgive them or at the very least let them go. Then focus on the people that have your back.


3. Uplift yourself. It’s important to look after your well-being while you are grieving because it’s exhausting work. I’m talking about self-care, yoga, hot baths, positive affirmations, gratitude’s, daily self-affirming habits that remind you who you are and that you will be okay.


4. Journal. I’d recommend getting a black journal and use it as a safe place to write everything down, all your thoughts and feelings about everyone and everything. (I love a lovely journal but I find it hard to write all the really awful stuff I feel in something so pretty!)


5. See a Counsellor. Sometimes grieving on your own is too hard and you need someone by your side to help you. Counselling offers that support and normalises the process you are going through.


Now you’ve given yourself permission to grieve how do you mourn when you don't get a funeral?


Here are some ideas to help you Mourn:


1. Write a letter (you don’t need to send it) letting him or her go, wishing them well, saying sorry. This is about you not them, but sometimes you have to say these things so you can be free.


2. Ask some close friends to write you a sympathy card. Maybe you need others to mark the loss with you.

3. Celebrate your new life ahead. Meet with a few friends and ask them to toast your new life, make blessings and wishes over you.


4. Create a vision board, half for what you have lost and half for your new dreams for the future even if that’s really hard to see.


When people are bereaved by death we never tell them to move on they need to find a way to live with grief so they can live a new adjusted.


But if you are bereaved by divorce then you need to find a way to move on and see a future of hope and love like you did at the start.


When your marriage is over you Mourn so you can Move on.


You can dream again when you accept where you are now.


If you need some help processing your feelings or can’t see your way out then come and join me for some Outdoor Therapy where I listen and nature heals and lifts your spirits.


Love Nicola






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Nicola Hughes

Counsellor & Supervisor

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