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You may begin to feel the impacts of your divorce on your mental health and well-being during and after the process. In fact, most people experience feelings of guilt and heartbreak, whether they initiated the divorce or not. You may ask yourself, “What have I done?” and look for ways to get back together with your ex-spouse.

However, going back isn’t as easy as it may sound. Your Mississauga divorce lawyer has likely worked with several clients in divorce recovery, and he or she can tell you from experience that most couples who begin the divorce process are ultimately happier when they’ve gone their separate ways.


Guilt: Why Most People Experience It

Generally, guilt stems from the feeling that you didn’t fulfill a promise to a loved one, didn’t hold up your end of the bargain, or missed an important detail that could have changed an outcome. Guilt is usually the result of believing you should have done more or the result of having done something that caused damage to your relationship.

According to psychologist Dr. John M. Grohol, healthy guilt guides people into redirecting their behaviours to improve the future. Unhealthy guilt, on the other hand, has no rational purpose, like when one spouse feels guilty because the other cheated.

It’s common for one or both spouses to feel guilty when infidelity, financial troubles or large-scale disagreements cause a marriage to end. Additionally, one party can feel guilty for leaving the marriage – even if it was extremely unhealthy. In most cases, feeling some degree of guilt is normal.

If you are having trouble dealing with your guilt, ask your Mississauga divorce lawyer if he or she has the name of a qualified local licensed therapist who can help you. 

Research has shown that people who don’t deal with their extreme guilt have difficulty starting new relationships and are generally unhappier than those who process their guilt on their own time.

It’s also important to keep the company of a trusted friend or, better yet, a support group or support system to help you deal with the different stages of divorce as you enter a new life without your ex-husband or ex-wife.


Coping With Guilt During Divorce

Some therapists suggest that journalling during your divorce can help you cope with the guilt you may experience. When you write about your guilt, you’re doing two things: getting your feelings out and creating a written record that you can later reflect on.

If you’ve chosen not to ask your Mississauga divorce lawyer for a referral to a family therapist or counsellor, consider talking to a close friend or family member. Sometimes just verbalizing your feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside can have an astounding effect and aid your healing process.


Coping With Guilt After Divorce

Even after your divorce has been granted, you may continue to experience guilt. There’s no set time period after which guilt automatically disappears – each person deals with a unique grieving process in his or her own time.

Most psychologists agree that in order to cope with your guilt, you must accept that you did something wrong (if you did) and then move on. Realize that you cannot change the past, but you can prevent yourself from repeating the mistake again.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help if you’re having a difficult time coping with your guilt. Your Mississauga divorce lawyer may be able to provide you with the name of a highly qualified counsellor or therapist who’s experienced in dealing with divorce and the issues it creates.

FAQs on Coping With Guilt During and After Divorce

There is no precise amount of time that guarantees to get over a divorce. Depending on the relationship and the person’s coping methods and unique outlook on life, it could take several months to a few years.

Getting over a divorce is much like the grieving process and could follow similar patterns. Grieving individuals could cycle through these stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Below are a few ways to help your healing process in getting over your divorce:

  • Recognize your feelings and allow yourself to feel them.
  • Build a support system of friends, family, and other loved ones.
  • Immerse yourself in activities you enjoy.
  • Seek professional help from a licensed therapist or counsellor.
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