Divorce loneliness is part of pain and suffering of a failed marriage. “I feel so empty and alone” is the theme and refrain that the mourners know when burying a marriage that has died. This deep aching loneliness can seem unbearable. Man or woman, the leaver or the left, adulterer or faithful partner, loneliness infiltrates the heart and soul, and it hurts.
The crushing loneliness often inundates people who find themselves single again. A song from the past happier times, the sight of a couple walking arm in arm, the overheard conversation of loved ones greeting each other at the airport – all can trigger a suffocating loneliness.
According to the Rev. Pastor Reydon Stanford, the emotional and mental pain that often accompany divorce can be unbearable. It is not uncommon for these types of emotional strains to lead to further destructive behaviors — substance abuse or other addictions, alternative ‘soothing relationships,’ severe depression or anxiety…and sadly, even suicide.
Divorce is one of the most internally damaging experiences a man or woman endure because it is one of the greatest losses in life that can be experienced.
Almost no one handles divorce alone. Divorce means the loss of an intimate relationship, the loss of a life-long dream, the loss of trust, the loss of security, the loss of self-esteem and the loss of loved ones.
Many professionals as well as anyone who has personally experienced divorce agree that the “loss of a partner through divorce is worse than loss of a partner through death.” Death ends a marriage in the natural way; divorce ends marriage in an unnatural way. Most times when death ends a marriage, the deceased did not want to die and both spouses still love and comfort each other. In divorce, love is lost and that knowledge haunts thoughts and emotions for many years to come.
A person can cope with the loneliness of divorce by facing it. After acknowledging the pain, he or she can wait it out, fight it, or embrace it.
Waiting it out enlists the Great Physician – Time. For many, time heals the wounds of divorce. Some experts say it can take somewhere around 3-4 years and the healing process begins immediately. The divorced do not forget about former spouses several years after separation, of course, but most of the healing work for a spouse who’s gone through a typical divorce is complete within about 3 years. Some people simply endure the loneliness they feel, and some people decide to live with it, knowing that it won’t last forever and though painful is not fatal.
For some time helps them forget just how miserable they were in the wake of the divorce and some people resolve to fight loneliness.
Grief counseling helps in dealing with loneliness. A therapist helps analyze the loneliness and understand how threatening it is. Counseling works because shared pain is half the pain, shared joy is twice the joy.
Ernest Hemingway said loneliness can be very productive. Some people turn to volunteer work at a homeless shelter or visiting people in a nursing home. There are any number of other places to use the free time of divorce in a useful way.
Very little about divorce is good, but it does offer the chance to embrace loneliness, which can be a life changing discovery. A healing person can learn to make a friend of himself or herself through the battle in dealing with loneliness.