How to move forward gracefully after a divorce

Let’s face it, divorce, and break-ups in general, are very difficult to process and move on from.  For many reasons, separating from the person we love leaves us feeling lost and desperate for answers.  Many times we blame ourselves in hopes that if we take ownership of the breakup we can then fix whatever is broken and then we will not have to suffer with this pain any longer. This is a very subconscious thought and it isn’t until we are fully healed that we understand that thinking that way is a form of self protection. We are trying to avoid experiencing this incredible hurt.

The pain of loss can be so deep that it triggers other emotional issues that may exist inside us, you know, the ones that we thought we buried deep down and would never see again. 

Not possible. Trauma always rears its ugly head and at the worst times.

The truth is, sometimes, even most times, break-ups are the Universes’ way of getting us to deal with our issues instead of filling our voids and living the day to day as if these issues do not exist which, as you know, is called denial.

The Universe is constantly pushing us to resolve issues and move forward which is why you may find that you are continuously facing the same issue(s) over and over and not understanding the “why”. Reality is that you need to learn that particular lesson, the lesson you are being taught in that moment.

Learn the lesson, and move on.

Being divorced twice and losing both husbands in a similar and pretty traumatic way I realized the Universe was sending me a message…it was the same message both times and fortunately the second time I finally chose to listen. It was time for me to face my issues, work on myself, focus on what needed to change and do the work to get me on the path to a new beginning. As my friends called it, my blank slate. I called it “stepping stones”.

Below are my simple yet critical tips of letting go and moving on after a traumatic divorce (or breakup):

  • Let yourself go through the stages of grief/loss – A divorce or breakup of a significant relationship is quite similar to a death.  In order to move forward you must go through the stages of grief.  The five stages are  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and they are a critical part of the framework that makes up our learning to live without the one we lost. They help us to gain the tools we need to help us identify what we may be feeling, however there is no exact timeline when it comes to the healing process and you may bounce around from grief to anger and back to denial before you hit acceptance.   Healing is not linear.
  • Accept that healing takes time – As I stated, there is no time table and healing is not linear.  Just  know, you are where you are meant to be, healing.  The more difficult the relationship and break up the harder the hit is to your body, mind and soul.  You need to be compassionate with yourself and accept that it can take years to recover and that is OK!  Honor yourself and where you are at, at every moment.
  • Allow yourself time to heal – solo – Fix yourself and heal first before bringing someone else into your world otherwise you risk repeating the same patterns until you have learned the lesson you were meant to learn – the Universe is speaking to you so listen.  The only way over it, is through it.
  • Do not fill voids by immediately trying to replace your ex – Believe it or not, you are not ready for a new relationship!  By jumping in to a new relationship, you are trying to fill a void to escape from hurt, that never works, it delays the healing process and puts other people at risk for heartbreak.
  • Allow yourself to feel anger, fear and sorrow – These feelings are normal and are part of the healing process.  Feel every feeling until you are numb to it.  Stuffing your feelings does not work, facing them head on speeds up the healing process.
  • Fill your life with interests and activities – Now is the time to try something new (new hobby, take a class, start an exercise routine), make new friends, and start some Keystone Habits (see my blog on Improve your life with these simple Keystone Habits).  This creates a full and satisfying life.  Become a better version of yourself!
  • Make peace with your loss and try to forgive – If you focus too much on the loss and don’t let go of the story you will not get to acceptance and you will prolong the healing process.  There is a lesson in all this, take the time to learn what it is.
  • Let go of the story – Yes it was traumatic – yes you are in pain – yes you miss him or her – but if you do not let go of the story and make peace with what happened and why it happened you will delay creating a new and better story, one that doesn’t involve a traumatic breakup.  Learn the lesson and move forward.
  • Make time for yourself and figure out who you are as a person – I imagine you have spent a majority of time focused on your relationship and your significant other.  Now it is time to focus on yourself and figure out who you are and what makes you tick.  Fall in love with yourself!
  • If you want to find a happy, nurturing, compassionate relationship, look for those qualities inside yourself – Do you have those same qualities you are looking for in another person?   Remember … you are holding up your mirror so be who you wish to meet!  Its that simple.
  • Spend time with yourself – whenever you can, find time to be alone with your thought and feelings, whether it be in a designated “self” zone or just any space where you can get some alone time. Do it, it is magical.
  • Don’t become bitter and don’t regret the relationship just learn from it. Be a better person because of it. Take the positive, let go of the negative and mover forward so you can find the person who is right for you, because that person DOES exist.
  • Love again without the fear of loss don’t let this bad experience jade your feelings on love. In fact, I encourage you to love harder, stronger and without fear….be vulnerable and more than anything, trust yourself.

The truth is, once you change your mindset from the idea of this being a loss to discovering the opportunity and the magic in the healing, the process will be much easier as you start the Journey on your new path to a wonderful life.

Below are 30 divorce journal prompts to help you jump into your healing process:

1. A letter to your ex sharing your anger or sadness (but do not send)?

2. What are your fears?

3. What are you grateful for today?

4. Who are you thankful for today?

5. What are you most worried about today?

6. What are you looking forward to?

7. Write a letter of apology to someone you’ve hurt

8. What’s one thing that you’ve always wanted to try?

9. Make a list of places you would like to visit

10. What do you value more than anything?

11. What are you learning about yourself?

12. What have you accomplished that you didn’t know you could do on your own?

13. What are you most proud of?

14. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be?

15. Where do you see opportunities for improvement in your life?

16. Write about your ideal first date with someone new

17. What do you miss about your ex?

18. Make a list of the things your ex did that aggravated you

19. What qualities will you look for in your next partner?

20. Be your own best friend and write a letter to yourself telling yourself precisely what you need to hear.

21. Make a list of things that bring a smile to your face

22. What are the five things you would like to do more of?

23. What do you love about yourself?

24. Write down one regret that you have and can’t let go of

25. What’s one way you would like to grow in the next year?

26. What’s one thing you dream about doing?

27. What do you need to be content?

28. What were your highs and lows of the last month?

29. What’s one vacation you would like to take if money wasn’t wasn’t an issue?

30. Write down 10 ways you are going to take care of yourself going forward. (Bonus if you add them to your calendar, as well!)


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