Grieving the Death of a Marriage

Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, emotional process of divorce, In so many ways, divorce is like a death. Not only does divorce legally end a marriage, but it also ends the life the couple – and the rest of the family – has shared. Regardless of whether or not you are the one who wants out of the marriage, and despite how badly things have been between you and your spouse, there will still be a grieving process to go through, just as if someone had died.

In 1969, Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross revolutionized the way people handled the death of a loved one with her book “On Death and Dying.” Kübler-Ross recognized that there were five stages of grief that most people went through before finally accepting their loss. Later on, she expanded the five stages of grief to other losses that people deal with, including the loss of a job, the loss of one’s health when dealing with a serious or chronic disease, and substance abuse addiction. Kübler-Ross also applied the stages of grief to the loss of a relationship, such as a divorce.

If you are struggling with the loss of your marriage, you may find yourself dealing with all of these emotions. It is important to allow yourself to process each one, in no particular order, in order to begin your own healing process, and to help your children heal.


Denial is the first stage that many people struggle with when dealing with the end of their marriage. This is especially true if one of the spouses is against the divorce. They may even ignore legal documents, including the divorce papers, instead putting it all off as just a stage their spouse is going through and all will be “back to normal” again soon.


Anger is another stage that many grieving people deal with. Once denial is over, all the anger moves right to the surface. Flashes of anger can suddenly come out of nowhere, and you may find yourself blaming your soon-to-be ex-spouse for everything that is going wrong with your life, including things that they most likely have nothing to do with. Getting stuck in traffic is suddenly your spouse’s fault because if they did not want a divorce, you would not have to put in those extra hours at work to make the extra money needed to pay the bills now that they have moved out.


Many spouses try to avoid the divorce by bargaining their way past it. They make promises to their spouse that they will give up things – no matter what the cost to them emotionally or financially – if the spouse stays.


When the denial, anger, and bargaining has not worked and the reality of the situation sinks in, many people struggle with depression when they realize that their marriage is truly over. Having a good support system of family and friends can help a great deal. It may also be helpful to seek out counseling or therapy to help work through this stage.


When acceptance finally arrives, you realize that life truly does go on, and many times for the better. Although you may still occasionally feel those other emotions, like anger or sadness, you now know that ending your marriage is the best thing for you and your children – and even for your spouse.

If you are considering ending your marriage, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney to find out what your legal options may be. Call Martoccio & Martoccio to schedule a free consultation at 630-920-8855 today.

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