A divorced person usually goes through the same stages of grief that a bereaved person does, and simultaneously reorganizes his or her life. The circumstances of the breakup – that is, whether the marriage was generally amicable or abusive, who initiated the divorce, and whether the separation was mutual or forced – determine the intensity of the pain and suffering. Little by little, however, most people cope, passing through these stages:
- Shock and disbelief, which correspond with the phases of denial, anger, and bargaining in the death of a loved one. During this phase, as a spouse may first struggle with feelings of denial, anger and disbelief, he or she may bargain with the other.
- Initial Adjustment, during which a person is better able to function, but still has feelings of disbelief. The spouse makes plans for the future, dealing with the legal necessities of divorce, and otherwise addressing the practical realities of splitting one household into two.
- Reorganization, wherein a person puts plans into action, including change of residences and revision of schedules. A person reorganizes friendships and relationships. Distancing from former in-laws and mutual friends or friends of the other spouse. The legal proceedings are generally well advanced during this phase, but anger or depression may continue.
- Reformation, which is the final stage of coping with divorce. The legal proceedings are complete and the divorce is final. New routines, new interests and new pursuits take shape. “Down days ” still happen, but the person is generally free from depression, guilt or shame over the divorce.