This blog was originally posted on itsovereasy.com. As well, listen to the podcast I did with the wonderful celebrity divorce attorney, Laura Wasser. We talk about all of these topics and more. Click Here to Listen!
How to Heal After a Divorce or Great Loss
Darling, I don’t have a ‘gist’ ( Psychologist,) ‘trist’ (Psychiatrist) or ‘pist’ (Therapist) after my name. Just like you, I have experienced the bitter and the sweet, tremendous joys and great sorrows. I am a wife, mother, daughter, mother-in-law, girlfriend, and grandmother to several grandchildren, who affectionately call me Honey. I am a woman over 50 who believes age is just a number. So, I became an author, a blogger, and an influencer in my sixties! The site I created is, of course, Honeygood.com. I am a fierce voice for women over 50. My goal is uplifting women by showing them how to take a big positive bite out of life with style.
As many of you know, I have endured financial hardship, the heartbreak of widowhood in my forties, the joy of remarriage, the horrors of suicide in our family, the unknowns of Cancer, the challenge of building a blended family and that is just for starters. Throughout my ordeals, I have never allowed myself to have low horizons. I have never let fear stop me from starting. I have, through my experiences, earned a degree behind my name… a Ph.D. in Life!
Loss Comes in Many Forms
Did you know the divorce rate for women over 50 has doubled since the 1990s? Unhappiness came out of the woodwork without shame and many couples who had been unhappy for years decided to take a new path called… divorce.
Though I have not experienced divorce, I know the feeling of loss. I went through the sudden and debilitating experience of losing my late husband, Michael when we were in our forties. Our home was in the Hawaiian Islands. We lived on the Island of Oahu in Honolulu. Michael was on the Mainland on business. On a lovely sunny Hawaiian day as I was just about to leave for the market, the telephone rang, and it was my brother-in-law calling to tell me Michael passed away instantly from a sudden heart attack. The message was riveting. My life and the lives of our children took an instantaneous turn.
I can feel the pain you experienced when your husband came home from work and told you, “I am very unhappy, and I want a divorce.” Or, one day you had just had it and told your husband, “I can no longer live with you.” You never expected that to happen when you walked down the aisle 25 years or more ago. Divorce is a loss and no matter the role one must grieve their loss in order to reenter the world with a positive attitude.
How I Survived
I believe the route I took to survive the loss of my husband you can use to survive the loss of your marriage.
I chose my path of healing by listening to my heart; my innate instincts. After all, no one knew me better than I knew myself. My personal journey to recovery took a few years even though I had met and remarried a fellow widower. I traveled through the five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Through my shock, anger, sadness, and despair. I managed to recover. I want to share my journey with you because I also perceive divorce as a great loss, even when you may have been the one who wanted ‘out.’ You are on your own for the first time in years. Your first courageous act will be to decide the method you want to take to heal. There is bound to be shock or numbness with the breakup of your family.
Then, there is the phase of a variety of feelings: anger, sadness, anxiety, confusion, emptiness, and the question, “Did I make the right call, or did my spouse make the right call that created this loss?” Despair sets in when your loss becomes reality. You may feel hopeless and want to withdraw and disengage from family, activities, and friends for a time. A divorce is like a death. Mourning or grief is essential as you travel your personal journey to its ultimate destination… a healthy positive attitude about your life. Your goal, J’ AIME LA VIE! Meaning, I love life!
The Start of a Journey
Before you can concentrate on healing you have to educate yourself on how divorce works. Put your finances in order, chose a competent attorney or mediator, actively participate in the negotiations even if you want to pretend they are not happening. Visit with only a professional Positive Psychologist (it is a profession), because you don’t know how you are really feeling. Do you feel self-loathing? Do you feel the loss of your best friend? Or do you know the importance of taking the high road for the sake of your children, no matter their ages?
As I said earlier, the divorce rate for women over 50 has almost doubled since the 1990s. Hopefully, you are able to go through the above processes successfully so you can begin self-healing by taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Art of Being Alone
Please stay cognizant of the fact that your life is far from over. You are in a period of transition and it is scary. You must take your time to emotionally heal so you can transition into a new passage of life. I found the best method to heal was to spend time alone with my thoughts. This gave me permission to think about my life. Trust me, it works.
Your loss is monumental but different. You owe it to yourself to heal whether you wanted out or your ex-spouse wanted out. My advice is to take a year out of your life to just be. In other words, be alone. You should work through your feelings. You should rediscover a side of yourself that has been lying dormant. A side that was always there but has been left unnourished. So, take my advice and don’t get caught up in a whirlwind or rush into anything.
I recognized my environment was essential to my healing. Our home with our children was in Honolulu. Life in the Islands was very family-oriented, health-driven, and peaceful. It was considered rude to honk your horn on Highway 1; the only highway on the Island! Life was easy. When invited to a friend’s home if you rang the doorbell or knocker on time you were ill-mannered. Ten minutes late was the norm!
The smell of the salt air rolling off the sea surf combined with the softly blowing trade winds… The fragrance of the plumeria, orchid, and the beauty of other varieties combined with the slow pace of life on the Island was the perfect environment to just be and heal from my loss.
I moved from our large home into a condo on the sea. Friends said, “Don’t move out of your home for a year. Take your time.” I did not listen to what people said. I listened to what my heart told me and it told me to take my memories and move into a smaller space that would wrap its arms around me. And, I was right.
After your divorce is final, rethink your environment. Ask yourself if you are happy in your home. It was very important to me to feel uplifted where I hung my hat. Feeling happy at home affected my attitude and was a very positive tonic. The more content you are within your environment the easier it is to concentrate on healing.
You must listen to your heart after your divorce and not to what others tell you to do. If you stay in your original home, toss out the old! Bring in the new! No one knows you better than you know yourself. If you do move, don’t settle until you find a place that puts a smile on your face.
Your goal is to free yourself from your past so you can move into a new passage of life.
Walking is Therapeutic Medicine
I walked alone every day for four miles in the early morning and four miles at sunset with my pooch, Mahalo. I cried and cried and I remember I could not remember one incident that Michael ever did to upset me. Walking was very therapeutic, healing, and restorative. Walking relieved my stress; therefore, very beneficial to my physical health. Walking allowed me to simply be.
When you are unable to walk outdoors, join a health club, or purchase a treadmill or bike for your home. Put on a headset and play soft music or sounds of softly blowing trade winds or soft waves rolling into the shoreline.
A Major Life Change Can Transform You
You are feeling better emotionally. You have let bitterness and blame go. And, you have accepted what you cannot control and are reframing your thoughts. You are getting to know yourself again and are looking forward to new adventures.
I know you may be filled with trepidation and fear but remember: Fear stops you from starting. So, take a deep breath and plunge. Be fierce in your pursuit of happiness.
If you want to reenter life in a big way, I suggest starting with a camaraderie of women or a mixed group of new acquaintances. Join a group or groups that interest you. Cards, wine, cooking, movie, travel, health, sport, crafts, gardening, or multigenerational. Women need women. People need people. Your new acquaintances will help you breathe stimulation back into your life. If one group does not tickle your fancy, try another group. Don’t stop trying.
Another idea is to go back to college or apply for a job. This will energize you and provide you with self-worth. Or, plan a business you have always desired and when COVID-19 has passed, finger’s crossed, you will be ready.
Every Woman Has her Style
It is time to nurture the inner you. Your style is your biography. 80% of how others perceive you comes from your inner beauty. It is part of a woman’s charm to make others feel the joy of life. So, put on your winning smile, use your wit, and show your warmth. Walk tall with twinkling eyes and have a look about you filled with curiosity. And, remember to be interesting, you have to be interested. If you do the above, you will be the most beautiful woman in the room. You will feel visible and vibrant.
A woman’s outer beauty is 20% of her style. It is important to take time for self-care. Get your rest, your massages and facials, relax with Yoga and meditation, do your ample exercise, and eat a healthy diet. This takes a great amount of discipline and self-love. In other words, show kindness to yourself.
Go shopping in small shops where you can get professional advice. Not everything you wear has to be pricey. Mix a J. Crew t-shirt with a pair of jeans and buy a shoe or bag or broach to uplift it and give it style.
This all takes hard work. But this work is for you. You deserve it. Make yourself interesting and irresistible.
Family first. Always. Revel in your family. It is your turn to allow yourself to lean on them. You gave them their roots and their wings and their values. So, reach out to them, not as the babysitter, but as their multigenerational friend. Share with them stories about their great grandparents including your growing up years. Enjoy.
Life Plays Tricks
Life plays all kinds of tricks on us. Divorce was never supposed to be in your cards nor was Michael’s death supposed to be in my cards. New passages face us, and we are forced to find out who we really are. When we work without fear on whatever comes our way with a positive attitude, find out so much about ourselves, and isn’t that so special?
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