Written By Featured Guest Blogger (and our friend) Tara Fass L.M.F.T.
For the newly separated or divorced the 'Year of Firsts' is a kind of mourning. The most intense time of grieving is the first 365 days, though every year may present challenges. Your ex's birthday, when they moved out or made it impossible to stay, the day you knew, "It's over;" all may conjure up sensitivities.
Acknowledge the past but stay focused on the present. The physical withdrawal of someone can bring back memories of times gone by, but you can empower the empty space and allow it to evolve as you lean into your new life.
Start mindful of grief with the purpose to cultivate self-compassion and self-reliance for the ‘heavy lifting’ that lies ahead. Fortify your intention to support yourself during this difficult year to come. It might just pay off in a less costly parting of the ways.
You are here hoping that parting ways can be less horrid. Think about what is to come. For some at the final step the deal is imminent. Others may be contemplating the big step to start uncoupling. Either way, here are 10 tips that might help lift you when grief drops to a new low.
#1 Call in your ancestral village. Reminding yourself of your elders who overcame adversity may be comforting. These 'angels under your wings' are rooting you on.
#2 Judge gentle in terms of what went sideways. Hope, courage and patience come from deeply befriending yourself in the face of this kind of crisis. If the split 'came out of nowhere' or ‘I was the last one to know,’ red flags along the way were ignored. My ex and I got here together differently.
#3 Hold 'coming clean' as a goal. Actively shed old habits of mind and behavior to learn and grow. Over-indulging in willful naiveté was likely a drain on your vital energies. Taking appropriate responsibility for the unwinding can prepare you to face the music.
#4 Expand space for what can go well. There is time to get there. You must figure out several layers of meaning first in order to move into a fuller expression of life.
#5 Know thy triggers. Grieving changes us deeply. Healing is not a linear process, chaotic and confusing at times. Closure takes time, beyond date-driven events such as filing for divorce or when it becomes final.
#6 Heroics might backfire and add to guilt and remorse. It is normal to feel withdrawn, sad, angered, or exhausted in the 'Year of Firsts.' It is within your right as a grieving person to shake off normal routines and ‘do your own thing.’
#7 Embark on a 'Year of Firsts' personal retreats. Plan several at regular intervals. Include therapy and therapeutic activities like meditation, workshops, clean eating, hiking, yoga, and other mind/body activities such as journaling.
#8 Honor feelings rather than avoid them. Accept your path without denying the realities of obligations and commitments. Resolutions are about empowerment. Creating space for self-discovery may be a luxury worth the expense.
# 9 Let whatever comes be your guide. Your comfort and safety comes first. On a 'vision quest' for a life re-design and re-boot, let one trusted person know you are making space to grieve. Ask them to be your on-call support system should you need to reach out.
#10 Time can pass quickly as a new singleton. There is so much change to keep up with. Life, especially when growing kids are in the picture, has a way of tugging at you to carry on. Grief recovery is unique unto you.
Replacing household items after dividing them may thrill you. Watching the mattress you shared or your ex’s favorite chair carted off to its new home will not break you. You may actually delight in moving to a new location, or having extra space in your closets and garage.
Springtime the season of renewal is around the corner. Embrace a renaissance of opportunities and possibilities. As the late singer/songwriter David Bowie once said, “Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom you're just about in the right place to do something exciting."
Tara Fass, LMFT #35078, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, California. For 8 years, from 1993-2001, Tara was a parent plan mediator for the Superior Court of California. During that time she also conducted approximately 100 Court ordered Child Custody Evaluations.
Now in private practice, Tara treats adults and couples dealing with a broad range of issues from navigating the legacy of divorce in one's life. Together we attempt to make meaning out of disturbing experiences from anxiety to depression. Tara helps you bounce back from challenges over a lifespan full of risk, transitions and new realities.