It's a strange word and one I've become quite accustomed to this past year. It's strange to think about grief when you think about divorce. Up until this past year, I wouldn't have equated the two. Grief was for people who have experienced a death in the family or lost someone they loved. Not for someone whose parents are splitting up. But now I realize how untrue that is. Grief is very real in the midst of a divorce, especially when you're older. You've lived the majority of your life with an intact family and suddenly, that's gone.
So you grieve. You grieve for your family. You grieve for your parents' marriage. But mostly you grieve for the way things were.
In her book, appropriately titled, "The Way They Were," Brooke Lea Foster references studies that show that adult children of divorce experience actual grief, similar to the grief people experience when they lose a family member to death. It makes sense, actually. Because we have lost something. We've lost our parents as a single unit. We may have them as individuals, but they will no longer be together. And that makes everything different.
By the way, I highly recommend Foster's book, "The Way They Were." This is the only relevant book I know of for adult children of divorce. (And you can download the ebook from Barnes & Nobles for $10).
The important thing here is to allow yourself to grieve. So many people (including myself) push their grief away. It doesn't help that many share the same viewpoint: "you're an adult...so deal with it" (and some may actually say this to us)! But the truth is...it's a huge change. It's traumatizing. And we need time to grieve for what once was, knowing that at some point we will have to move on. So let yourself grieve. Don't listen to anyone who tells you differently.