It's hard to cope with an unexpected divorce, but you can -- and you'll come out stronger for it.If you were surprised by the news that your spouse wanted to split up, as many people are, you might be left scratching your head and wondering, “What next?”

Coping with an unexpected divorce poses special challenges, because you’re forced to run through a wide range of emotions in a relatively short period of time. Surprise, hurt, anger and betrayal are among the most common emotions reported by people in situations like yours; these (and several others) are normal.

How to Cope with an Unexpected Divorce

Many people shroud themselves in denial when their partner unexpectedly asks for a divorce. While it might be comforting to tell yourself that this is just a phase and that he or she will “come around,” believing it when it’s not true can cause even more emotional pain.

In most cases, the best course of action is to ask your Toronto divorce lawyer for a referral to a local therapist who’s experienced in dealing with situations like yours.

While you’re waiting for an appointment with your therapist, treat yourself kindly. That means don’t blame yourself, accept the fact that you cannot control (nor can you change) what your spouse did, and allow yourself to feel however you want to feel.

You might also:

  • Consider starting a journal so you can chronicle your feelings. Let yourself write freely and don’t edit. More importantly, don’t tear any pages out when your feelings change. If you’re more comfortable with a smartphone or tablet than a pad and pen, download a free journal app. Your journal can also help your Toronto divorce lawyer create a timeline of your case; written records are far more reliable than emotionally clouded memories.
  • Think about closure. What will help you let go of some of the negative emotions you’re experiencing? Some people choose to write letters to their exes, burn slips of paper with specific events written on them or drop them into Lake Ontario. You might meditate, if that’s more your style, or you might choose to list all the positive outcomes divorce may bring.
  • Let your lawyer work on your behalf. Your lawyer will help you create a child custody agreement, ask all the right questions about property division and handle all the legal aspects of your case. For now, let him or her worry about those things. You deserve time to recover from the shock.

While these things can help alleviate the pain of an unexpected divorce, time is the best healer. With a little help from your lawyer, your support network and a therapist (should you choose to work with one), remember that you’ll come out of this ordeal stronger and more resilient.