How to Move On after a Divorce You Didn’t Want

Divorce is an emotional process for everyone involved. In fact, divorce brings out some of the most painful emotions and worst behaviors in all of us – especially those who are stuck moving on from a divorce they didn’t even want in the first place.

It may not feel like it now, but the pain you’re feeling will not last forever. It just takes time and effort to process your feelings and pick back up the pieces of your life so you can rebuild it on your own.

How long does the shock of divorce last?

Regardless of who filed for divorce or how you and your ex-spouse decided to separate, you will likely experience feelings of shock and denial in the early stages of the divorce process. You may feel numb, confused, and unfocused. As your brain tries to make sense of the situation, you may lose your appetite, experience insomnia, and feel like your entire life is falling apart.

In many cases, these feelings will last anywhere from a few days to a few months before they give way to other feelings such as fear, anger, and sadness. As you move through the stages of grief, you will want to have a solid recovery plan in place so you can come out stronger on the other side.

How do you recover from an unexpected divorce?

If you are working through an unexpected divorce, you may feel responsible for your relationship’s end. You may look at yourself as a failure or blame yourself for not doing what it takes to make your marriage last. 

Here’s the thing, though: Many marriages end in divorce. What’s more, people who go through a divorce almost always find ways to recover and bounce back even better than before. It just requires an understanding of the post-divorce healing process and taking care of yourself as you recover.

The post-divorce healing process

Coping with separation and divorce is anything but easy. However, giving yourself the time and space to heal is necessary in order to move on. It involves working through the stages of grief as they come, processing your emotions in a healthy way, and taking care of yourself as you work through the painful emotions you experience along the way.

Stages of grief in divorce

Divorce comes with its own emotional stages of grief. Much like any other tragedy, we have to work through this emotional pain and process it before we can fully move on.

The stages of grief during divorce include the following:

  1.  Shock and denial
  2.  Fear
  3.  Anger
  4.  Bargaining
  5.  Guilt
  6.  Sadness
  7.  Acceptance

The stages of grief don't always come in this order, nor does everyone go through each stage one at a time. Regardless of your experience with grief, though, it’s important to work through each piece – shock, fear, anger, bargaining, guilt, sadness, acceptance – in a healthy way so you can move on to your best post-divorce life.

Finding emotional support to cope with divorce

Many married individuals rely on their spouses for emotional support. However, you can no longer turn to your former spouse when coping with a marital breakup. During this difficult time, you may need to find new friends and individuals to add to your support network.

Divorce coach

If you are in the early stages of the divorce process, you may want to hire a life coach or divorce coach. These trained individuals can help you work through the emotional pain of divorce, provide advice to help you manage your well-being during and after your divorce, and even help you navigate the early stages of life post-divorce. Even if they are in your life for just a short time, a divorce coach can be a valuable asset if you’re feeling lost.

Divorce support group 

Because the painful feelings that come with divorce are complicated, a lot of people also seek out emotional support from a divorce support group in the aftermath of their separation. These specialized groups give you a safe space to share your thoughts, negative feelings, and emotional pain with people who understand exactly what you’re going through. Group members may also provide you with guidance based on their own divorce experiences.

Our partner Circles is one of the leading Divorce Support groups in the United States.

Join the thousands of people who’ve found comfort and support with Circles.

Mental health professional

Sometimes, you may need support beyond what a peer support group can offer, and that’s okay. If you notice that your mental health is suffering post-divorce, you can seek out a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychologist. These experts can help you work through the grieving process post-divorce, help you navigate co-parenting with your ex-spouse, and help you explore your new life as a single person.

Taking care of yourself after divorce

As you work through the painful feelings of a divorce you didn’t want, you may start to neglect yourself to some degree. However, self-care and physical health management are very important during difficult times like these. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself in any way that you can.

Sleep and nutrition

You’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating properly. Proper sleep and nutrition make it easier to regulate your emotions and cope with the stress, anxiety, and sadness you may experience during this time. Also, sleep and nutrition keep your body in check so you don’t develop physical health complications like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart conditions. 

Physical activity

Additionally, making time for exercise or other forms of self-care can go a long way toward improving your overall health and well-being during this time. Regular self-care helps you think clearly, concentrate, and make decisions more effectively, which is necessary for the aftermath of a divorce. Also, self-care and exercise can give you another outlet for your emotions, which can help you work through the stages of grief more quickly.

Does divorce pain ever go away?

It may not feel like it now, but eventually, you will move on with your life. In fact, as you make new friends and enter new relationships, you may find yourself in a place where you are actually thankful for your divorce.

As you work through the pain and mend your broken heart, it’s important to find ways to build a new life filled with things that bring you joy. In fact, it’s the perfect time to pick up a new hobby, find ways to connect with new friends, and explore the world on your own so you can learn what being single again feels like. And, as you put yourself out there and make an effort to embrace your new life, the emotional pain of your divorce will fade into the background.

You may not have wanted your marriage to end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of your new life post-divorce. After all, you deserve happiness and contentment – so let yourself embrace life and enjoy it.


At Hello Divorce, we strive to provide our readers with resources to help them through every aspect of divorce. Check out these additional suggested readings:
Divorce Content Specialist
Communication, Mediation, Relationships, Divorce Insights
A content writer and editor for several digital publications and businesses, including Make Tech Easier, How-To Geek, and Clean Email.