Stages of Recovery After Divorce

If you're getting divorced, don't miss these key stages of recovery during this process. Understanding the stages of grief will help you to cope and make the right life choices.
Stages of Recovery After Divorce
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The stages of divorce are also known as stages of grief, until the latter ends and you can get back to normal. In reality, recovery from a divorce doesn’t follow a straight line. Whether there are breakthroughs or setbacks depends entirely on the person. This grief is usually a visceral pain originating from broken heart syndrome after divorce. So, we’re going to discuss the different stages of recovery after divorce below.

Stages of recovery after divorce

When we talk about the stages of recovery after divorce, there are usually five main stages.

Stage 1: surprise and devastation due to the divorce

At this first stage, there’s a surprise with the situation and devastation because what you started building with another person is over. No matter the causes that led to the divorce, there’ll always be a moment of devastation that we must be prepared to face.

Father passing through the stages of recovery after divorce.

Stage 2: intense sadness, anger, and anxiety

In any case, separation and divorce are overwhelming and exhausting. You don’t sleep well, you don’t feel like eating anything and, in this fog of the divorce, you’re faced with hundreds of decisions that’ll determine your future.

During the process of divorce, your life changes dramatically and immediately. The changes happen so fast that it’s difficult to process them all. Moreover, all of this happens while you barely have enough energy to keep yourself together during the day.

So, despite the exhaustion and overwhelming state that overcomes you during the divorce, you’re likely dealing with more intense emotions. Sadness and grief usually come first. The despair of divorce is overwhelming.

Anger comes next as part of the stages of recovery after divorce, coupled with a vengeance. Usually, this isn’t everyday irritation or aggravation, it may even be a feeling of rage.

Stage 3: coping with the reality of divorce for the purposes of recovery

After the anger and despair subside a little, you have to do the hard work of facing the fact that the divorce is really happening. Being divorced will be your new reality, even if you don’t understand it very well yet.

You may feel scared because you don’t know how to control things, your life, and all your responsibilities on your own. Stay close to people who love and support you because they’ll help you get better.

Stage 4: adjusting to being single after divorce

After you’ve gone through the basics of accepting that you’re officially divorced, you have to adjust to being single again. One step that helps in that post-divorce adjustment is figuring out how you’re going to talk about it.

When meeting friends at the post office or at the store, think in advance about what you’re going to say when they ask: “How are you doing?” Or “What happened?” You’ll have a chance to say something that’ll let them know that you’re a good and kind person.

Woman looking at her ring after divorce.

Almost always, one of the steps is to move your belongings out of the house. You may have to look for a smaller, more affordable home. In this regard, you must remember that home is and will always be wherever you are.

You’ll also need to figure out who you want in your life now and who you need to let go of. Hit the pause button on friends and family members who keep you stuck in the past. Relationships need time and energy, and you should choose to be around people who help you to move forward.

Keep in mind that after divorce, we often have to take the initiative to meet the people we care about. People don’t know how to act around us. So, one of the stages of recovery after divorce is to learn how to honestly tell friends and family what we need.

Stage 5: finding new optimism

As we’re adjusting to being single, which may take longer than we want, we can glimpse a new sense of well-being and optimism. Start speaking about yourself as single and not as divorced. This small shift in your thinking will make you feel more positive and more hopeful.

You’ll feel more confident in your ability to not only survive post-divorce but to create a good, fulfilling, and fun life. Even if anger and sadness still come up often, they’re less intense.

About the stages of recovery after divorce

Part of this journey of recovery after divorce is to learn that we’re in charge of our own lives and that we can make it as wonderful or as miserable as we choose to.

Our future is our choice, and when we realize this in real life after divorce, we know that life can be good again because we can make it so.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.