Friday, August 15, 2014

Grieving in Circles

The funny thing about grief when you're an ACOD is that it never seems to end. It just goes around and around... and when you think you've conquered the pain, there it is again.

You're grieving in circles.

Brooke Lea Foster said it best in her book "The Way They Were" (one of my favorite books specifically for ACODs. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should). The thing about grieving your parents' divorce is that it's a lifetime process. You may overcome one set of issues, but then a whole new set of issues appears. Maybe you've gotten accustomed to your parents' divorce but then one (or both) remarries. And suddenly there's a new face in the family and life is back to being surreal again. I felt this way when my mom remarried earlier this year (another topic for another post).

There are some who don't think the aftermath of a parents' divorce should be classified as grief. After all, no one died, right? 

Wrong. Something did die - a family unit. 

I'm not making light of those who have experienced death in their family. That's a whole different sort of grief and one that cannot (or should not) be compared to a parents' divorce. But to say ACODs aren't grieving is completely false. We grieve for what our family once was. We grieve for our parents' love - the love that we were borne out of. We grieve for some sense of normalcy, because as we all know, when parents divorce normalcy goes out the window (I like to call it the divorce crazies). Much of our grief doesn't actually stem from the divorce itself - it stems from the fact that nothing is as it once was. And despite the fact that we had no control over the situation, it will impact the rest of our lives.

Where am I going with this? I want all ACODs to know that it's okay to grieve. You need to grieve in order to move forward. If you're going through a parents' divorce right now and you feel silly for crying, being dramatic, acting childish, etc. - don't. It's your family to grieve and no one else's. And even though the grief may go around in circles and appear at times when you least expect, remember that grief is what makes us human. And the only way out is through.

How have you dealt with the grief of your parents' divorce? Or grief over another lost relationship in your life? Share your tips by leaving a comment below. If you don't want to leave a comment but want to talk privately, email me at


Anonymous said...

Thanks Michelle. I know there aren't many responses here on your new blog but please don't stop adding to it. It's so good to know that someone understands; that I'm not alone in feeling this.

Anonymous said...

This blog has brought me incredible comfort. Thank you. Processing these concepts must be difficult for you, too, and I am incredibly grateful for the guidance and the levity of your posts.

Anonymous said...

Any loss accompanies grief. One of the best books i ever read to put my parents divorce into proper context was a book Motherless Daughters. It has nothing to do with divorce yet every thing i experienced was similar because as noted, its the loss of the family unit. A deeply, disturbing loss that brings about fear, mistrust, abandonement, lack.of safety and so much more.


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