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Divorce isn’t something anyone is ever totally prepared for. You probably know someone who’s gotten divorced and seen what they went through. But watching someone else deal with the grief of divorce doesn’t do anything to make you ready to deal with your own.

You were probably shocked to learn that your ex-wanted a divorce and tried to see if you could do anything to save the marriage. Usually, there’s nothing to do. Once someone comes to the point of asking for a divorce, they’re usually done and are already experiencing their own guilt and grief.

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And after the unwelcome surprise of hearing the words “I want a divorce” begins to wear off, the tidal waves of grief begin to hit you. And they don’t just hit once. The waves of grief hit you again and again and again – until you’re not sure you can take it anymore.

Don’t just let things get stirred up, write down what you’re grieving about the loss of your marriage. (Obviously, this is why you need the paper and pen.) By specifically recognizing every little and big thing you’re mourning you’ll be taking a big step toward your divorce recovery and out of the miserable place of being stuck in the grief of divorce.

Here are 50 secret causes of the grief of divorce:

  1. The children you’ll never have together.
  2. Losing the home you shared.
  3. The inside jokes that won’t mean anything to anyone else.
  4. The shared history that you’ll never share with anyone else.
  5. The love you thought you had.
  6. Feeling that you were special to your ex.
  7. Your children not being able to grow up in an intact family.
  8. Losing the secure feeling of knowing your ex-has your back.
  9. Lost financial security.
  10. No longer sleeping together.
  11. No longer parenting together.
  12. The dream of celebrating your 50th anniversary (or maybe just your 10th).
  13. Being able to help out at your kid’s school at a moment’s notice.
  14. Always having someone there to share your day with.
  15. Losing your best friend, soul mate, and confidante.
  16. Losing your pets.
  17. Saying goodbye to your in-laws.
  18. Having your role as spouse ripped away from you.
  19. No longer being part of the bulk of society – married.
  20. Losing your holiday traditions and spending all of your holidays with your kids.
  21. Saying goodbye to amazing sex with your ex.
  22. No more date nights with your ex.
  23. The withering of the relationships with your shared friends.
  24. Losing your shared music library.
  25. No longer being able to count on someone else to take care of the car or pay the bills or cook or maintain the house or …
  26. No longer being able to stay at home to raise your kids.
  27. The disappearance of that someone who accepts you as you are.
  28. Losing your shared vacation dreams.
  29. Saying goodbye to the dream of growing old together.
  30. Losing the dream of sending the kids off to college and rediscovering each other.
  31. Not being able to welcome your grandchildren together.
  32. Taking your wedding pictures down.
  33. Asking your parents to take your wedding pictures down in their home.
  34. Splitting up all the things that made your house a home.
  35. The dream of happily ever after with your ex-evaporating.
  36. No longer being able to reach out and hold their hand when you’re scared, or happy, or proud.
  37. No more sharing a cup of coffee in the morning before the day kicks into gear.
  38. Losing the joy of sharing your hobby with your spouse.
  39. Losing the comfort of attending church together.
  40. Knowing that your spouse is no longer your rock.
  41. Having to file your taxes as single instead of married.
  42. Discovering that your self-confidence has evaporated.
  43. Feeling isolated and no longer feeling connected with others.
  44. Realizing you don’t know who you are if you aren’t your ex’s spouse anymore.
  45. Noticing that you don’t know what you want out of life anymore.
  46. Losing your sense of purpose.
  47. Finding it difficult to trust anyone – even yourself.
  48. Destruction of your belief in love and romance.
  49. Losing your faith in the legal system.
  50. Feeling as if you’ve lost control of your life.

This list isn’t comprehensive. There’s a myriad of things you say goodbye to when your marriage ends and your grief of divorce will probably continue long after you’ve read through this list for the first time. So revisit it each time you have a new wave of grief that you’re ready to process.

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