Society it seems portray's divorce as a celebratory event, a monumental part of closing a chapter of your life. You hear about "divorce parties" and movies show it as a milestone to celebrate so you can move on with your life.
After eight years of separation the day finally arrived when I decided that it was time to close that chapter of my life. I had already gone through many stages of grieving. I had adjusted to the challenges of single parenting, of co-parenting and of managing my life alone, so it came as a surprise that getting a divorce would bring up a lot of emotions.
After some reflection I realized that although I had dealt with the grief and changes of living apart from my husband, I had not dealt with the actual end of our marriage. With getting married there came hopes, plans and expectations of what my life would look like. Getting a divorce would provide a concrete end date, evidence of the death of that dream that my 21-year-old self had. At first, getting divorced didn't feel like a celebratory event, it felt like a funeral.
This is your life, your story and you do not need to be ashamed of any part of it.
It seems that we understand the need to grieve being physically separated from our ex and it comes as a surprise that the ending of your marriage can feel like another big loss. Moving on in a healthy way is important and there are things you can do to help you through.
Take the time to grieve
When we get married we have dreams, hopes and expectations of what our lives will look like within this union. The end of your marriage is also the end of a plan you once had for your life and it is important to take the time to recognize and grieve this loss. Give yourself the time and space you need to work through all of the emotions that come up, even if it is painful and hard.
Forgive yourself and your ex
Forgiving yourself as well as your ex for the things that each of you did or didn't do in your marriage is important. Although gaining closure through conversations with your ex is not likely possible there are other ways to work through this process. Writing a letter expressing your feelings that you discard after can be a useful tool and/or talking to a therapist. Holding on to anger or resentment for yourself or them only hurts you.
Watch: How to reset your finances after divorce. Blog continues below.
Let go of shame about being divorced
It can be the elephant in the room and not talked about but there is often an aspect of shame attached to being divorced. Sometimes it is our own shame, feeling that we have failed at a part of our life. Other times it is other people's opinions about divorce that causes us to feel that way. Most often people do not get married expecting that it will end in a divorce. Remind yourself that life changes, people change and other people's opinions don't matter. This is your life, your story and you do not need to be ashamed of any part of it.
Celebrate what you had
Although getting a divorce means you have come to a place that your marriage is over, most often there are parts of it that can be celebrated. Reflecting back to the 15 years I spent creating a life with my husband there are many good times I want to remember. Focusing on the positive versus the negative is a nicer way to close that chapter of your life.
Divorce was tougher than I had anticipated, it was both a funeral and a celebration. It was something to grieve and also a milestone for moving on. To this day my wedding picture remains on my grandparents' wall and my grandmother tells me I looked so beautiful she just can't take it down. I tell her she doesn't need to, it was a special time in my life and although it is over, it is not one that I want to forget.