divorce advice
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
April 23, 2024 ·  4 min read

Surviving a divorce isn’t easy – these are the 4 steps you need to take to heal

Divorce is painful. The person who you have trusted to be your eternal companion is walking out of your life. You feel at a loss like something was ripped from you. You are surrounded by well-meaning people who cannot fathom your suffering. The sinking feeling of despair is slowly lodging itself into your heart. You beg for this awful period to end so you can move on. Yet it seems impossible to get back to life in the face of this trauma. There is hope. You will survive this and come out on top. Your relationships will make all the difference.

Step 1: Yourself

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Your views and feelings about yourself are complex yet vital for your healing. There are different stages of emotion normal for people going through a divorce. Through all the pain, know that you are not the only one who has felt this way. These stages are founded by Psychologist Thomas Whiteman, co-author of Starting Over.

  1. Denial – “This is NOT happening to me right now.” “It’s really not so important.” This is the initial shock reaction, where the body shuts down to survive the pain.
  2. Anger – This is when reality strikes. It can manifest itself in an uncontrollable rage or a burn-out. Whether the anger is justified or not, it still must be channeled toward healing through healthy outlets. Otherwise, it’s destructive.
  3. Bargaining – This is where desperation sets in. You make promises and drive yourself crazy trying to win your spouse back. You think it can still work out, while the problems have gone too far for any ‘quick fixes.’
  4. Depression – You begin to suffer from insomnia, irritability, changed appetite, exhaustion or other physical manifestations. You’ll need a good friend by your side for encouragement.
  5. Acceptance – This comes as an epiphany that the past is over, and it’s time to look towards the future. This moment comes from you without outside influences.
  6. Forgiveness – It’s time to let go of the resentment towards your spouse and forge new healthy relationships. This is the final step where you are cleansing yourself entirely of the divorce’s anguish.

Some may experience some stages more intensely or quickly than others, or in different orders. Every situation has different contributing factors and personalities to create a unique process for each person. It’s highly recommended to join a support group with others who are going through as similar situation. You will learn from their mistakes and receive the encouragement you need to proceed and move on. It may feel hard to reach out at first, but you will see it is the key to a complete recovery. (2)

Read More: Toxic Marriages Are More Painful For Kids Than Divorce

Step 2: The Ex

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Most divorcees harbor a fierce grudge against their ex-spouse. Even if it seems rational to feel this way, know it takes two to fight, and that’s the bitter truth. Acknowledging your mistakes can be invaluable to heal your wounds and to fix some aggression between you and your ex. Also, don’t lash out against the ex to your family and friends. This slander only adds fuel to the fire. Calm yourself and create a more balanced perspective of the other person. (3)

Step 3: Your Kids

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The worst thing you can do is getting the kids involved by badmouthing their other parent. This places the children in an unfair struggle of their loyalties and causes friction in your relationship with them. Keep the legalities away from them and try not to disrupt their daily routines. Be open and discuss what is happening in a manner befitting of their age. Be careful not to do or say anything that would give them stress. Encourage them to talk and legitimize their feelings. Remember it’s a hard time for them too. (4)

Read More: “My Dad Still Mows My Mom’s Lawn – Even Though They’ve Been Divorced for 28 Years.”

Step 4: Friends

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It’s easy to fall into solitude after losing your so-called life partner. Don’t fall into that trap! Get out there and make new friends. Real human interaction friends, not what’s-up-texting-Internet friends. You need a change of scene, and you will rediscover yourself as you interact with new relationships.

A good way to find these new faces is by getting busy with something you enjoy. If you always miss your favorite gym class, start attending regularly. If you love to read, join a book club. If you want to join a sports team, go for it. If you crave travel, pack your bags. You will meet people with similar interests as you, and you’ll be reigniting your passion for life. This is the best cure for the pangs of divorce. (5)

The Future Awaits

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As you move on, keep in mind what Deepak Chopra says:

“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” (6)

Read More: The Best Marriage Advice From A Divorced Man


  1. (2) (5) Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W. (July 10, 2016) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemplating-divorce/201607/im-divorced-now-what
  2. (3) Stephen J Betchen D.S.W. (April 5, 2015) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/magnetic-partners/201504/how-get-along-your-ex-after-the-divorce
  3. (4) Nemours https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/help-child-divorce.html
  4. (6) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/life-after-divorce-15-quo_n_2481738.html?slideshow=true#gallery/274946/4