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Divorce, Grief and Anger - Part 1
(provided by Deborah J. Schmidt, MA)

Q. We just agreed to file for divorce; Why does it feel like someone died?

A. At the outset of the decision to end a marriage, one or both partners may feel some relief from the previous suspense of waiting for a final determination. Even when both halves of a couple agree that they foresee the end of their relationship, the emotions associated with this process take about a year to incorporate. Normally, a person recognizes grief when it follows any other significant and involuntary loss, such as a death in the family or an unexpected termination of employment. Because divorce is an event that at least one person "asks for," it can confuse those involved, especially the emotional support network, when it comes with so many moods.

Q. What does GRIEF have to do with this?

A. Understanding that the human body & mind can only tolerate a small variance from day-to-day can help us accept that there is a limited pace at which the parties to a divorce can move forward and absorb the impact of divorce. Initially, the emotions surrounding the break-up can feel worse instead of better, even when everyone "agreed" to split up. Grief encompasses several stages & emotions: Shock/Denial; Bargaining/Negotiation; Anger/Resentment; Sadness/Depression; & Acceptance/Bitterness. Most people recognize at least one of these stages, hope they will avoid another, and are completely shocked again when they admit they have visited every single one of them on & off by the end of Final Divorce (+) Year One.

Q. Should we wait to call a professional until we have the details sorted out?

A. Mediation is certainly appropriate at any stage, but can be particularly useful early on before either party becomes anchored to the limits which they will consider during settlement. Using a neutral third party early on can circumvent one or both parties from rehearsing an unrealistic or unfair resolution. A family mediator will approach you with respect, make sure you are aware of the points open for discussion ahead of time, and always makes sure you feel prepared. Because informal offers were proposed & possibly declined in the past, frustrations rise, emotions get more significant, and creativity usually runs dry. When the ability to work out the details becomes mired down in old emotional patterns, it quickly becomes a critical time to call a professional who is experienced and may have several choices for your family that were simply unknown to either person. A mediator will craft a personalized set of choices that are valid for your family alone, like a custom suit. Also, rely on this service to make sure your settlement is comprehensive and complete; by pointing out common concerns, showing you areas that you and your spouse may have overlooked, and coaching you to ask questions early in the process, DJS Mediation Services will ensure that your paperwork is acceptable to the courts and that you will avoid unexpected complications after your final decree.

Q. What can we do to avoid a longer process?

A. Asking your neighbor, family member, or co-worker how their divorce went can lead to very unrealistic ideas. They may have had an easy time of it, no kids, and no debt; or it may have been extremely difficult and technical (but they might not share all of the reasons why); either way, without knowing all the details, another personÕs story may mislead your family- for better or worse- and waste precious time and energy. Because no two divorces are alike, no amount of extracurricular advice will find you the deal of the century and shopping for a solution that you think you want may only cause more frustration, because there is a significant chance that information will not apply to your case due to different financial, legal, and personal circumstances. This leads to hard bargaining and "take it or leave it" offers that will land you in litigation. Allowing a professional mediator that you both trust, to bring into focus the most calming and fair options can create ideas that both parties can live with and allay fears about extreme solutions that will disenfranchise one of the parties.

Information provided by:
Deborah J. Schmidt, MA

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