Five Stages of Grief In Divorce

In 1969, a Swiss psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, published a book in which she described the five stages of grief experienced by terminally-ill patients.  This work was later expanded to help explain the emotions of people who have lost a loved one and others experiencing personal loss, such as spouses going through divorce.

Divorce is a trauma, and anyone going through this trauma may be helped by speaking with a counselor or therapist.  Additionally, you should consider whether the collaborative family law process may be helpful to your family, as it is a private form of dispute resolution that generally involves a neutral facilitator, who usually has a mental health background.  This is in recognition that divorce is not just a legal matter, but also a highly emotional matter.

Regardless, below are the five stages of grief you may experience if you are going through divorce:


It is not uncommon for spouses to deny that the divorce process will go forward.  And so they may ignore correspondence received from the other spouse’s attorney or waive of the other spouse’s movement towards divorce as “just a phase.”


Spouses may experience anger while going through divorce.  Anger at the other spouse for wanting the divorce, anger at themselves for perceived failures, and anger at the world for being a place where divorce happens.


Spouses may attempt to bargain to avoid the divorce.  They may attempt to bargain with the other spouse (“What if I spend less time at work?”), bargain with God (“If I pray will you make this stop?”), and bargain with themselves (“If I start caring about others then this won’t happen”).


At some point in the divorce, it is not uncommon for a spouse to feel that all is lost, or that he or she will never recover from this trauma.  At this stage it is most important to reach out to friends and loved ones for support and to consider speaking with someone who has the proper mental health training.


Finally, spouses come to accept the divorce and know that they can and will move forward.

If you have questions regarding dissolution of marriage or about collaborative divorce, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, Florida’s largest collaborative practice group of independent attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals.

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