Divorce grief triggers PTSD

I have been completely separated from my wife and two young children from Jan 2013 and then divorce on July 2015. I have grieved a massive amount the first year of the separation and more after the divorce was finalized. My self esteem has taken a major hit and my PTSD symptoms has kept me from pulling out of the grief. I have had short stints of time without grief but it does not last. I am doing my best to be positive and hopeful for the future but the grief makes it incredibly difficult. I realize it will take more time to heal but I really want to start living and all this time I have been just surviving. It is very similar to my growing up years where my PTSD originated. Does anyone have any tricks or suggestions to get through these difficult times?

8 Replies

  • I think with grief it is a roller coaster as you described and it has it's own process. I would say try to feel what you feel when you need to. Don't hold feelings back. I would recommend Bell Ruth Naperstek's guided imagery 3 step trauma CD's. It has helped me a lot. There is a meditation for releasing grief among other great guided meditations that may help your PTSD. Another thing I do is write out my feelings. Maybe seek out something new to try that you always wanted to do to bring some joy to your day. Other than that with grief I think rest and good nutrition is important. I've had a lot of loss in my life and these tips have helped me. I think there is no way to "get over certain losses" We can't get our old lives back that we had before the loss but somehow we have to integrate that experience into a new life. Make sure you have solid support also. Best of luck to you.

  • I can relate. My divorce was awful and my ex set out to destroy me! Yikes! It has been two years for me know. /Here are a few things that seem to be helping me, although I still have C-PTSD from an abusive relationship-battered wife syndrome?

    I have reconnected with some good friends from long ago, Believe it or not my best friend from 6th grade who moved away at that time. It is like we have never been apart.

    I have also reconnected with an old "boyfriend" although we are just friends currently . He knew me and liked me long ago-this helps my self-esteem and I know I can count on him!

    I made a new friend and we get along well!

    My counselor tells me he will know I am well when I no longer mention my ex!

    I spend soooo much time with my doggie. She is awesome and guess what she was a stray who came to me who "found me" during my divorce and she has never left my side. She is my best friend. I call her my baby doll, or baby. She keeps me going during the really tough times. She needs to walk or visit the dog park or go to the Pet store to shop. Things I simply would not do with out her.

    I try to look forward to doing a few things I like even if it is a favorite tv show.

    I took on a part time job selling jewelry as I love jewelry and I am learning all about diamonds and gems and this is such fun!

    Anyway PTSD is tough, but I try to remind myself lots of people have chronic illnesses and that is what I have. If I frame it that way it helps. If I had heart disease or diabetes I would cope and so I have a different illness, one I never expected, one which wears me out. However, I try to say to myself it is ok I do my best and that is all I can do.

  • I have to ask, are you not having visits with your kids?


  • Work out what your highest priority is and focus on that as a start. After my divorce the highest priority was "pay the bills".

    When your highest priority is taken care of you could look at "Who do I want to be?" Everything was so painful for me that I thought "adding a bit more isn't going to make much difference" so I tried a few hobbies and ideas that I'd always been to scared to try. I went from "I'd love to ..... but I could never......" To "I can". I spent a year paying a woman to drag me around a dance floor until I forgot "I cannot dance" and "I have no rhythm and feet that don't move". After that I moved into public classes happy I wasn't a klutz.

    It takes a while to build a new life and undo the blending of being a couple. But now you can choose to be anyone you want to be. As things settle you are going to build a new life. It can be one based around bitterness and regret or it can be one based on finding those parts of yourself that are dormant - making them bigger can fill in the gaps.

    Now on a dancefloor I can walk up to a woman and say "would you like to dance" and know I can deliver. That's something I always dreamed of doing. Now I can.

  • Thank you all for your experiences with this. I do spend a lot of visitation time with my two boys. I do not know what I would have done if I did not have that time. I see them on Wednesdays after school and every Friday until Saturday afternoon. I am lucky in that respect. I am even more impatient to start living again when the kids come over to my house. The grief still weighs me down when they arrive. I do my best to put on a happy face while they are here. The drives back after dropping them off is the most difficult 30 minutes of my week. I have found the drives not as painful as they used to be. I see some progress there. I really do need to reinvent myself. I have let a lot of my old friend drift away. I have kept in touch with a few close friends and they have become a God send now that I really need their support. I think if I do look more forward than back it might give me more hope this will end up more positive as some of you suggested. Today seemed more positive than yesterday. So I am going to keep drudging forward and take your word for it that there is life after divorce. I only see a small light at the end of the tunnel right now. Thanks again for the help and suggestions.

  • Degn8er - Such a major transition in life would absolutely come with a sense of loss and grief. At the bottom of grief is love, so in some respects moving through the grief means reclaiming a connection to what we've loved in some way appropriate for the present moment.

    On my radio show I've interviewed a couple of experts about how to process grief. You might find helpful insights and ideas for moving forward in their responses:

    Transforming Traumatic Grief


    How to Cope with Grief


    And you might find this idea about deflecting grief useful:


    You can get through this, Degn8er. I'm so glad you spoke up about this so that we could all join you here. You've got friends and a safe place to share and explore about this. :)

  • Divorce, to me, was awful, a necessary healthy thing for me, but painful at the same time. There is a definite before and after similar to adjusting to being married. You change, things are not as you expected, you grow, you learn. Seems that marriage had a safety net feeling attached to it, so living afterward may not feel safe, but totally new and raw.

    However, it is a journey that is to be addressed everyday, and finding life in a new way than before. Key things I did learn:

    To look forward without expecting bad history or good history to repeat itself. Be open to the possibilities of a new history to unfold. Taking one day at a time.

  • Family is very important to me and lately the grief of my lack of family has really been eating at me. It is not really family per say, it is the fantasy of a family. I am having trouble giving up the family I always wanted but never really achieved. The family that I saw on TV that was never real but I wanted to be real in my life when I became an adult. At the end of my divorce, I realized the family that I had in my head was not close to the reality of what was there. I had fooled myself for a long time. I wanted to believe that my family was growing closer so badly that I made it happen in my head but it really was not happening. When the divorce was final, all the pretending ended. I suddenly found myself alone and the fantasy was gone. I got very angry but I am not a screamer. So I felt the anger but it did not expel easily. I made a decision not to attack anyone and I talked to close friends about my anger and pain that I did not know what do with. I think I felt a lot of the anger but I am sure I did not let it all go. I think some of it has turned into depression and fatigue. When I feel the anger come up ever so often, I do my best to express it without blasting some innocent bystander. I acknowledge that it is there and I move on. Loosing the fantasy of a close family has not been easy to let go of. It has been a hard pill to swallow. I do not have much of a choice now in that respect. The perfect family is no where to be seen but I do have my children to have a different type of family. My children like being with me and love me no matter what. I have done fairly well in not damaging my children during the process of my divorce. I am proud of myself for this. I have spoken with them many times to make sure they know that the divorce is only between their mom and me. I tell them that they did nothing wrong and they could do nothing to fix it. My kids and I are making a new type of family together. We are still trying to figure out what the family will look like. It will take more time to see how it will turn out. I remind my children the good things about two different families like two Christmas's and two birthday parties. Divorce is so very sad. I think I am through a large part of the grief but I have more to go. I am going to trudge forward today and do my best to the positive in my life. Not easy but that is my plan today. Thanks to everyone who has given me suggestions to get through this. It is good to know others have lived through it.

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