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Loss of Recently Divorced Spouse


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Since the in-person grief support groups have been shut down, I came across this site awhile ago but wasnt ready to join. Today I did. Am wondering if I choose the correct forum to post under since this is seemingly labelled as people who were in current relationships ? I dont consider myself to be divorced considering my spouse passed away suddenly only a few weeks after we got divorced. I mean I never really got to process our divorce so I feel like a widow quite often.

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Welcome.  Yes, this is a good forum for you.  When the person we love or loved most in the world dies, it matters little if we were married, divorced, engaged, dating, living together, etc.  It simply doesn't matter, certainly not whether you will be welcome here or whether we consider that the loss of a partner.  Believe me, we do.  The devastating, gut-wrenching, life changing loss is unrelated to any of those specific "categories" of relationships. 

I can only image all the conflicting, confusing, and painful emotions you are having right now.  And knowing how poorly our society handles or understands grief and loss in general, it would be normal for you to feel slightly out of step with what's "expected."  Well, forget that.  All we ask and expect of you here is that you talk to us, as you are able and willing and with no pressure ever.  Tell us how you feel or about your husband or about your life together or really, about anything at all.  We do not judge, we do not lecture, and we do not expect you to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Each of us is unique in why we are here and exactly who and what we have lost.  We're in different places in life and with different concerns.  But the one thing we have in common is that we lost our one essential love.  The wonderful members of this forum almost literally saved my life 18 months ago when I was lost, floundering, and hopeless.  I felt as if no one, not even the people closest to me and my love, fully "got" what was happening to my heart and my life.  I was welcomed with compassion, understanding, and even a little humor when it seemed right.

It would seem to me that in a way you are grieving love twice.  First, no matter why you divorced, you would have been feeling the loss of your marriage, your life together, your future and the possibilities.  Just because two people divorce, it doesn't mean that their lives together vanish.  It doesn't mean that the love you share disappears. Then having him die so suddenly and so soon after your divorce gave you no chance to adjust to both a different life and a different way of thinking about your love.  It gave you no time to grieve that loss and learn how to take baby steps forward.

Perhaps it's an added layer of pain for you because as long as our partner is alive, there is hope.  Let's say that a little part of each of you wondered if you could or would reconcile down the road.  Then all of a sudden, that possibility has been ripped away from you.  Now you will never know and so you are left wondering all the "What if?" questions.  So absolutely it makes sense to me that you would feel like a widow far more than you would feel like a divorcee.  And, as I mentioned, it doesn't matter what a piece of paper says.  It only matters what is in your heart and how you feel.

I'm so very sorry that you have to be here with us all.  I wish no one had to go through what we all are.  You are no longer walking your painful, unwelcome journey alone.  We all walk our own path, but we are walking together.

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9 hours ago, starsareblack said:

. I mean I never really got to process our divorce so I feel like a widow quite often.

Understandably so.  Divorce papers don’t stop the love and attachment you feel towards someone.  I know my sister-in-law loved my brother-in-law for years after they divorced.  Come here and share.  We all “get it”.  I know that the easiest people to talk to about my grief are others that have also lost a spouse or partner.  They understand.....

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19 hours ago, starsareblack said:

Since the in-person grief support groups have been shut down, I came across this site awhile ago but wasnt ready to join. Today I did. Am wondering if I choose the correct forum to post under since this is seemingly labelled as people who were in current relationships ? I dont consider myself to be divorced considering my spouse passed away suddenly only a few weeks after we got divorced. I mean I never really got to process our divorce so I feel like a widow quite often.

Of COURSE you feel like a widow, and you didn't have time to adjust to the divorce!  Many are here that never got to make it to the altar, it is how we FEEL that  defines the relationship, not the piece of paper.  They sometimes call this disenfranchised grief as others don't always acknowledge or recognize our loss, so that further complicates our grief!

You are VERY welcome here and we embrace you.  I am very sorry for your loss.

I wrote an article for grievers based on my first ten years of this journey, what I've found helpful, I want to share it with you in the hopes you get something from it today, perhaps something else later on down the road.  I hope you'll continue coming here.  Also I want to share articles on disenfranchised grief in case you might relate...



There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.


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