Divorce is a death of a relationship. Grieving is a natural response to the loss.
Two years after my ex-husband and I separated and divorced, I sat on the floor of my living room going through some old boxes of cards, notes, and pictures the kids had drawn over the years. I couldn't even touch those boxes before then, knowing what was inside would open up so much sadness, and was afraid that the tears would never stop flowing. Each note, letter, card, etc., saved as memories of a life now changed. I found beautiful love notes we had written each other over the years, crayon stick-figure drawings the kids had created for Mother's Day, Father's Day and birthdays. Some made me laugh, most made me cry. Some tears were for the gratefulness of having been loved as a wife and a mom, and some for the pain of having been hurt, and how we had hurt our children through the divorce process--collateral damage to our unresolved conflict. We both were hurt during our marriage, often, sometimes intentionally and most of the time, unintentionally.
I set aside the things I thought my ex husband would want, but wasn't sure of, as it wasn't my place to decide--cards from me to him over the years, drawings from the kids (who are now grown) and I neatly placed them in a bag to give to him when he picked up the dog (we share custody of our little Westie and exchange him every couple weeks--ya, I know it's funny and strange, but he is the love of our family's life!).
I let myself feel all the losses, the dreams I had on my wedding day, the feeling of being "the one" during our engagement, the shame I felt of being a divorced couple's therapist, my perfectionistic approach to motherhood, all of it...I was humbled and I grieved it all.
In the beginning, after we separated I filled my calendar with so much busyness, frantically trying to fill the gaps of time alone with friends, family, loneliness, fear of being alone (my biggest fear in life)...like a treadmill that wouldn't stop. I was often exhausted, but had to stay ahead of the feelings, right? Wrong! I made some poor decisions during that time, rushing into the dating world, pushing my kids to feel a certain way, going to bed later, getting up earlier...exhausting. My therapist (yes, therapists have therapists and that's a good thing if you are a client!) said I needed to feel the grief and sadness and pain, and I told her I was good, that I was an instrumental