With everyone wishing each other a happy new year and deciding to start anew it can be a reflective time and we can often reassess our happiness and that can include the separation from an unhappy relationship.  According to a survey by Irwin and Mitchell the legal firm one in five couples plan to divorce after the holidays.  January can be known as the divorce month in legal circles.

It is thought that children can play a major role in this as they choose to get through Christmas for the sake of their children.  It can also be due to the fact that Christmas is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year so it does not always feel appropriate to split with someone just before Christmas.  It can often be easier to go with the flow for the sake of families.  Of course another reason could be that the couple are hoping to rekindle that flame over the Christmas period.  Whatever the reason s January can be a time to be honest with ourselves and the Christmas period may highlight the major flaws in the relationship even further so you start thinking about another year of discontent or making the break.

Of course separation can often come with a myriad of other concerns.  If you share the same friendship groups it can mean an isolating time if your friends “pick a side”, there are financial implications, as well as emotional and legal considerations. It can be a time of immense stress and anxiety and even if you are the one initiating the separation, there can be a sense of loss. 

It is very likely that you will feel as if your world is falling apart and one minute you may be ok, the next you are crying, you may feel you can’t concentrate and wonder if you will ever survive. 

This is “bereavement” and you are on the bereavement curve which is an emotional rollercoaster. These feelings are normal and happen to most people experiencing a relationship breakdown.  Scientifically, medically, psychologically and sociologically it is recognised that you are going through a full blow bereavement. 

A person going through this bereavement process is trying to survive on both an emotional and a practical level, having to support their children and make important decisions when you feel least able to.

It is important to recognise this process as a bereavement and understand the five stages:

  • Denial. We refuse to believe what has happened. We are in shock.
  • Anger and Fear. We get angry. We may blame others for our loss. We can have emotional outbursts. We may turn the anger inwards on ourselves. It is important to release this anger in a healthy way. Bad uncontrolled behaviour is often caused by fear. Fear is common in grief. Violent and confusing emotions, panic and nightmares, may make grief a frightening experience. You may fear ‘losing control’ or ‘breaking down’.
  • Bargaining and Guilt. We may bargain with ourselves or, if we are religious, with our God. We may try to make a deal to have our loved one back. It is only human to want things as they were before. Guilt or self blame is also common during grief. Regrets often take the form of ‘if only’s: ‘if only I had done this’ or ‘if only I hadn’t said that’. It is common also to feel a sense of relief or freedom, particularly if there has been a lot of unhappiness and suffering in the relationship, and this may also cause intense feelings of guilt.
  • Grief and Depression. We may experience feelings of listlessness and tiredness – wandering around in a daze and feeling numb. Pleasure and joy can be difficult to achieve. There can be thoughts of suicide. If you have any thoughts of harming yourself, it is essential that you get immediate professional help. Self-preservation during this process is a must.
  • Acceptance. This is the final stage of grief. It is when we realise that life has to go on. This stage can take any amount of time to get to and varies with different people.

If any of this resonates with you and you are struggling to cope talking in a confidential space can be hugely beneficial.  Divorce can be a scary time and whether you are being forced into this decision or you are the one who has chosen this step it is never easy. Getting the right support will help you to put your life into perspective and find happiness.