Most people are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (or DABDA, which is kind of snappy for such a sad concept). The model is most commonly used to describe the stages we go through when confronted with illness, death or the death of a loved one, but can be applied to any life-changing experience. And anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that it is one hell of a life overhaul.
I’m generally an upbeat, outgoing person with a pretty decent sense of humour, something I share with my ex. His is on the dry side & kind of quirky: our 10 year old put it best when he said “Dad is good at self-humour. You know, how he cracks himself up.” But when two positive, good humoured people are going through a divorce, it’s not all that funny. I would say we went through all of those stages, not consecutively and certainly not at the same time. I arrived at the acceptance stage early and I believe it helped us finalize our divorce with compassion and respect for one another.
There is a saying that “if you really want to get to know someone, divorce them.” Well, I got to know my ex very well while we went through the never-ending process of untangling our lives. He turned out to be decent, fair, thoughtful and a highly moral, all the things I knew him to be when we were married. And still very funny: when we finalized our separation agreement, he sent a pitch perfect ironic t-shirt and card to my lawyer thanking her for her role in keeping things civil. He gave the same shirt to me and I literally laughed out loud when I opened the package. Some ex-wives may have found it offensive, but I absolutely loved it. The accompanying card was also very funny and touching and it made me cry.
Throughout each stage, a common thread of hope emerges. As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life. At the end, there is acceptance. And laughter once again.