Important work goes on in nature during the winter season. During the long, cold months of darkness, we wonder if we’ll ever see the sun again. It’s like that with divorce, too.
For me, during my divorce I thought I might find pockets of joy here and there, but deep down, I was afraid I would never be really happy again. I was devastated by the end of my marriage, and I worried that too much of my identity had been destroyed to ever have a life that brought me the joy and contentment I had known.
At the time, I just didn’t realize what had to happen to get my life back…. my full-of-love, full-of- laughter life that I felt had been destroyed by my divorce.
Nature gives us some really helpful clues about times of barrenness and times of growth. Here are three things that have to occur in the winter of despair before new hope can spring up after our divorce.
1. We Have to Accept the Winter and Grieve the Losses of Divorce
The work of grief is one of the hardest things we have to go through during the end of our marriage. We have to honestly take stock of all the losses we are facing. We have to feel our sadness fully and express our anger in appropriate ways. Regardless of how our divorce happened, avoid the temptation to pretend we’re doing just fine.
This is not how we wanted our marriage to turn out. We hoped that our life together would be good forever. Some things are worthy of the deep grief you feel, and divorce is one of those things. As I’ve made my way through my own divorce, and as I’ve worked with others, I’ve come to realize that there is hard, ugly, desperate grief work you have to do to allow new growth to happen in the end. There’s no way around it.
2. We Have to Be Patient With the Natural, Dependable Growth Cycle
After the grieving part of divorce comes the healing work. Just like when the ground is still hard and lays quiet, healing is a time for reflection and pondering and gathering new strength for what’s to come. Healing is a time to re-center ourselves and feel the blessing of the easing of the raw pain we felt in the beginning of the process.
During this fallow season, nature is putting the building blocks of new growth in place and waiting for the warmth of the sun to get the life juices flowing again. Snow may still be on the ground, but there is important restoration going on below the surface. It’s true for your divorce cycle, too.
3. We Have to Prepare the Ground of Our Heart for New Life
At last, after the grieving and healing work are done, we can begin to feel a fresh awareness of all the good things we still have around us. We feel a growing anticipation that something good is about to poke its head out of the dirt and back into our consciousness.
At long last, as the ground of our heart is being softened and repaired, we begin to have those tiny glimpses of optimism. We feel little promptings toward the sun. Then, one ordinary day, all of a sudden, we laugh out loud again, and it feels great and familiar. We feel more generous to others and especially others who are going through tough times. We begin to see more clearly what’s important and what’s not worthy of our time or energy. On top of all that, joy in the smallest things shows up more often than the sadness and loneliness that we had grown so accustomed to.
And all the while, during this process, the old junk and debris and crap that had built up over the long, dark winter is being cleaned out and carried away. It’s true in life after divorce as well.
As hard as it has been, accept the reality of the darkness. Don’t fight against the quiet time of reflection that brings a deeper understanding of good things that might come next. And finally plan for the garden you want to enjoy as you move forward.
Trim all the deadwood of despair and defeat. Get rid of emotions that keep you stuck instead of motivated to move forward. Get rid of the thoughts that keep you mired in regret and guilt. Say no to people and things that are not good for the kind of garden you are designing now.
After we’ve been through the winter of despair, spring always blooms full and fragrant again. We finally get to experience anew the colors and buds and blossoms that have been hidden from us during the cold, dark winter. They are more beautiful than ever. And that’s just how life can be after divorce, too. It’s the promise of Nature.
Author, speaker and founder of Midlife Divorce Recovery, Suzy Brown has spent the last 10+ years inspiring hope, healing and transformation to those going through divorce. Get her free 10-Day Crash Course at by visiting her bio below.
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