The Stages of Grief: Coping with Loss in Divorce

The end of a relationship is a kind of death. Grieving the loss of a loved one is a personal experience, and certainly there is no single "right" way to grieve. But whether the loss is brought about by divorce, cult membership, total amnesia, or even just normal death like on the show "Six Feet Under," the emotional process is the same. Psychologists have identified the stages of grief we must go through, and I hope that my own journey through these stages may, in some way, help you cope.

Denial: In this, the earliest stage, we refuse to believe what has happened. We try to convince ourselves that nothing has changed. We may even pretend it hasn't by holding onto rituals that remind us of our loved one. Setting her place at the table, sleeping on one side of the bed instead of the middle, or lifting the potty seat when you pee... They can all be part of this stage.

Anger: We get angry. We can no longer deny the cruelty of the universe! We may blame others for our misfortune, especially our ex-spouse and her friends. And her family. And her co-workers. We may also experience renewed anger at past injustices we'd thought long forgotten, like that bitch in high school. We may even become angry with ourselves, blaming ourselves for the loss. Don't turn this anger inward as that is self-destructive-- it is always better to blame others!

Drunkenness: This stage is pretty self-explanatory. And vital! Take as much time as you need on this stage.

Drunken Anger: A potent combination of stages two and three. Avoid contact with anyone during this stage! It's all too easy to get your ass kicked picking a fight with someone much bigger than you, plus you're stumbling drunk and never were a good fighter anyway.

Drunken Denial: This stage usually involves lying on the floor crying and moaning, "No... no... no..."

Drunken Angry Denial: This stage typically involves lying on the floor crying and screaming, "No! No! No!"

Understanding Country Music: You never thought this would happen, but you finally get country music. You may wish you didnt, but you do. Damn it.

Bargaining: Bargaining can be with ourselves, other people, or, if you're one of those religious types, with your god, even though if there were any sort of "God" this horrible shit would never have happened. Still, you'd give anything to reverse reality. It's only human to want things to be like they were before. But Superman ain't gonna fly backwards around your marriage and turn back time, so get over this stage, asap! It's pointless, jackass!

Depression: When we realize there is no bargain to be made, depression sets in. There may be a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion. You may burst helplessly into tears, even when not drunk. Any sort of pleasure or joy can be difficult to find, even from activities which had previously delighted you, like cheating on your wife.

devastationDrunken Depression: Prepare in advance for this stage by throwing away anything you might use to kill yourself. This should include your car keys.

Drunken Anger: Oops, you've slipped back into this stage. It's only natural, but remember: avoid all human contact! And if you have pets, ask a friend to take care of them for a bit. If you have any friends left.

Acceptance: The penultimate stage of grief. It is when you realize that your life has to go on. You should now be able to regain your energy and goals for the future. It may take some time to get to this stage, but it will happen. You may still think of the past, but those thoughts will be less frequent and less painful. Mostly, you'll wonder why you were upset in the first place. Sometimes, you don't know what you didn't have until it's gone.

Checking Into Rehab: The final stage of grief. It is when you realize that your liver has to go on. It is better if you handle this yourself rather than waiting for family and friends to hogtie you and drag you in. It makes you look more "together," and that's the illusion you're trying to convey! It's much easier to pick up chicks in rehab if you check yourself in.

Thanks, Dave, that really helped!

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