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Coping with loss when you’re getting divorced

Having recently – finally – received the decree nisi on what has been a very long divorce, I can safely state that you will experience a whole range of emotions during the process; but grief isn’t always the one people talk about. Anger, regret – these are expected – but they are also part of a greater grieving process, and any good source of divorce advice should discuss how to deal with loss.

Something you once hoped would be a lifetime of love; your cherished lifestyle; your home and children; you are just as likely to be grieving for these as for your ex-partner. It’s crucial to acknowledge these feelings instead of trying to squash them down or convince yourself that they’re irrelevant or unimportant. This isn’t to say you should dwell on them constantly and not allow pleasure when it arises – there’s nothing wrong with smiling at a funny child, or enjoying a pleasant meal with your friend! Just that it’s better to express your feelings and let yourself feel sad, even let yourself cry if you need to, because these are natural responses and are part of the healing process.

It’s also natural for these feelings to continue for some time – up to a couple of years, in fact. This may seem daunting, but with self-awareness and a little help from your friends, you will get through it, and grow in the process.


One of my top recommendations for anyone struggling with loss or a life change is to maintain a routine. Your schedule doesn’t have to be created in Excel, or filled with exciting social engagements – I’m talking about basic stuff like getting up, having a shower, going for a walk, each done at a regular time every day. It provides a sense of continuity and is crucial when it comes to maintaining self-care and healthy habits even when you’re feeling down.

Looking after your health is also very important, as it’s much easier to maintain mental wellbeing when your body is taken care of. Diet-wise, eat plenty of fruit and veg, with low-fat proteins, minimum sugar and wholegrain carbohydrates like bread, rice or pasta. Try to avoid too much caffeine, as this can lead to anxiety and even trigger panic attacks (caffeine stimulates adrenalin – too much adrenalin causes panic attacks). If you love coffee as much as I do, my compromise is to have one cup of excellent home-ground coffee on the weekend – when I don’t feel agitated about rushing off and doing anything – instead of hourly cups of high street or instant, which both seem to be all about maximum caffeine and nothing to do with taste.

Try to get daily exercise, too – just a walk in the park is enough, or that famous trick of getting off the bus a stop early. It provoked my rebellious side the first few times – why can’t I just get home and be comfortable?! But I’ve really noticed the difference since I’ve been doing it, and my mind feels clearer.

If you do find yourself struggling, please do speak to your doctor – admitting to these feelings is not a weakness or a waste of time, although you should avoid anyone who tries to put you on antidepressants after five minutes conversation! Talking to a trusted friend is always a good option, or if you feel isolated, the Samaritans are excellent, anonymous and thoroughly non-judgemental.


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