Separation is like a bereavement

by | Relationships

I’m in the midst of a separation. My husband and I have agreed the finances, sold the house and liquidised assets and have both moved to new apartments.

It was me who set the separation in motion. Wed had discussions over time, but this time it was final we both knew.

So, to begin, the separation was easier for me, I had been thinking of this, a lot. But is it easier? I’m a psychologist and did a lot of thinking and reflection, I think deeply rather than just look at things at an immediate level. I think carefully about implications and scenarios. Maybe I think too deeply?

The past 5 months have been nonstop on making this move. We had so many items to sell from a caravan to garden lights, the stress of selling and buying, with poor surveys sending me back to Right Move to find something else.
It was clearly the right time for our separation and to move on, we had good times, many good times, but were ready for a new life. We are doing an amicable split, staying in touch, still helping each other where we can, wanting the best for each other.

I’m happy with my new place, a 2-bed apartment with balcony, garage, and car parking space close to town and with a lot of greenery around me.

5 weeks since moving in and it’s been nonstop unpacking and working out where things fit. Thank goodness for the garage, still not sure if I’ll ever fit my car in there but there’s a few months yet till winter.

I’ve been busy on the practical, doing side, but there is also the internal, emotional side of a separation. I know about the 5-stage grief model:

  1. Denial. We are in shock. We may want to get back together. We may avoid thinking about it through work or drink or drugs.
  2. Anger and Fear. Anger with the other person for what they have done and how they make you feel. Fear of being alone and maybe never finding another special person.
  3. Bargaining and Guilt. Some people try to get their partner back, for others the focus is on self-blame and guilt. This is a time for regret, and to say if only you may feel that it is all your fault.
  4. Grief and Depression. This is when we can feel tired, and numb, we may cry a lot. Sadness is common. It can lead to problems sleeping, weight gain or weight loss, a sense of loneliness. But I think there is a positive side to this we need to allow ourselves a time to grieve what we have lost. We can look back at the good times and miss them for what they did maintain the car, hang the pictures, sell things online and deal with all the paperwork. There is also the loss of being a couple and the end of the fairy tale that you will be together, forever. There is no longer having someone to go to places with and having to start to do things alone. Not everyone finds it easy to make friends. If we need to cry, we should.
  5. Acceptance. This is the final stage of grief when we realise that life must go on. We can look back and see what we have learnt both from the relationship and the transition. Think about how you will go into another relationship with this new learning.

People pass through these stages at different speeds, and we can get stuck in one of the stages and need to return to them, it’s not a linear process.

With this separation, I never really had the denial phase, but the fear step has come back to me. Maybe it was there, and I was too busy to notice. I wonder how my life will be. But is this fear I think I can see it more as an interesting future, like going on an adventure holiday, like to Myanmar 4 years ago and not being sure of what the country will be like. I hadn’t anticipated having to fly over fighting! The guilt was very strong to begin but I’ve now passed on from the self-blame. I’m surprised to be in a sad phase, hadn’t expected this, but as I’ve stopped being so busy these sad feelings are surfacing. I think it’s better to allow this then to try and push them deep inside.

I’ll be writing blog posts over the coming weeks and months, charting my journey from the old to the new. I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you, any comments are welcome, either on my blog, or, if more personal feel free to email me.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.