By Judy Clark, NACFLM Region 10
OFFERS HEALING to separated and divorced spouses and their families.
Millions of people of various faiths and backgrounds have suffered the devastating grief of a marriage that ended in divorce. Countless children of various ages have lived with feelings of anxiety, disorientation, guilt and abandonment. Divorce hurts. We have experienced the pain of divorce in our families, in the lives of our friends and those we serve in ministry
The Grief of Divorce
The grief of divorce involves all the symptoms of grief we think of regarding a serious loss. Besides denial, bargaining, depression, anger, confusion, and finally acceptance and moving on, the grief process of divorce deals with self-esteem issues in a unique way. Rejection permeates the loss of a marriage, for adults as well as children. Rejection feels like being shattered into a million pieces as a sheet of glass does breaking on concrete. Feeling broken, less than whole and ashamed are common emotions that mirror low self-worth. Children often experience feeling unloved and abandoned as their parents grapple with their own healing. They can falsely blame themselves for causing the breakup of their parent’s marriage, prompting guilt, self accusations and reactive behaviors. Parents experience ongoing guilt over the pain their children are experiencing. Both children and adults can feel abandoned by God and have difficulty praying to a God who would let this divorce happen.
The Healing Process
Healing takes time. The grief process is truly a journey. There are dashed promises and dreams to let go of, life roles to grieve, and new roles, responsibilities and jobs to assume. There are deep disappointments when certain friends back away, removing their emotional support. Financial security may have greatly changed and downsizing is required. Growing through the grief process towards healing can seem a daunting task. Offering solace, encouragement, guidance and like-to-like understanding is a great part of helping people heal on their grief journey
Divorce Recovery Programs and Processes
As ministry persons, we can be the conduit that brings hope to those who are in need of divorce recovery. We can help them connect regarding recovery programs, counselors, spiritual guidance and like-to-like support. It is not so much “which” program to use as it is to provide connection versus isolation. Being with nonjudgmental people that understand the grief of divorce brings almost immediate relief and increases confidence in believing that they can, indeed, make it through to healing and a new life. So buy a couple of books or attend a divorce program course that will add to your own confidence in assisting our divorced families towards recovery. Make Divorce Recovery part of your ministry planning schedule. If you offer it, they will come. They need the opportunity to heal.