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What Are the Five Stages of Grief After a Divorce?

 Posted on May 21, 2024 in Divorce

DuPage County, IL divorce lawyerThere is a lot of emphasis placed on the divorce process, and for good reason. Getting divorced in Illinois is a massive legal undertaking that requires a skilled divorce attorney who knows how to navigate the process.

As if that is not difficult enough, many people who get divorced must cope with the five stages of grief, also known as the Kübler-Ross model. This model is usually used to explain how people feel after the death of a loved one. Because the human mind often treats divorce as a loss similar to death, the five stages of grief also apply to many people whose marriages come to an end.

Here are the five stages of grief as they apply to divorce.


There are many ways that spouses who are getting divorced experience denial. Some examples include:

  • A spouse may be in denial about the need to get divorced. For instance, he or she might make excuses for why an abusive marriage does not need to end.

  • A spouse may refuse to sign divorce papers because he or she is in denial that the other spouse wants to end the marriage. Or, the spouse may feel there is a chance for reconciliation when there is not.


Anger is common in divorces. Sometimes the anger is projected outward toward the other spouse. But anger can also be directed inward. Some spouses blame themselves for their divorces and the resulting effects, like the emotional impact on their children. They can then become angry with themselves and resort to unhealthy behaviors like alcohol and substance abuse.


Someone faced with divorce might bargain with the other spouse. Saying things like “We can work this out” or “What can I do better?” are not uncommon after one spouse expresses a desire to end the marriage. But bargaining can also happen after the divorce when the grief sets in. The spouse who initiated the divorce might then consider trying to reconcile with his or her ex.


Considered the most difficult stage of grief, depression is normal after a divorce. If it is not dealt with, however, it can become overwhelming. Unlike the other stages, depression can easily become crippling and seriously affect quality of life. 


Acceptance is considered the last and healthiest stage. It is when the spouses truly accept the reality of the divorce and that the marriage has ended. Only after this stage can the spouses really move on.

How Can I Cope With the Five Stages of Grief?

One of the best ways to cope with the five stages of grief is to consult a divorce coach. A divorce coach not only understands the legal divorce process but will also emotionally prepare you for the end of the marriage and post-divorce life. People who use divorce coaches often have a much healthier and more centered emotional reaction to divorce.

Contact a DuPage County, IL Divorce Lawyer

The only thing better than hiring an excellent Wheaton, Illinois divorce attorney is hiring one that comes with a divorce coach. At Goostree Law Group, we give our clients the full service. We not only provide top-tier legal guidance but we also take our clients’ emotional state seriously. Our client liaison is a certified divorce coach and will work with you to cope with the divorce process. Call 630-364-4046 for a free consultation today.

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