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The stages of 'survive, alive and thrive' during and post-divorce

Many clients who interview attorneys at the start of their divorce process want to know what they can expect. Certainly, experienced divorce attorneys can tell you what to expect in terms of fees, the legal process and how they will ultimately help you to construct a financial settlement and a child custody order. However, many individuals navigating divorce for the first time want to know what they can expect emotionally from the process, and this is a question that is ultimately harder to answer than the one that is more procedural.

We have previously discussed the fact that it is both vital to your wellbeing and critical to the outcome of your divorce case that you take excellent care of yourself during this time. If you take excellent mental and physical care of yourself, you can expect to go through the stages known as “survive, alive and thrive” during your process. Of course every divorce is unique and this outcome is not guaranteed. However, these stages serve as good reference points to watch and prepare for.

The “survive” stage occurs at the beginning of your divorce. You need to secure tools for your basic mental and physical survival at this stage. You may need to seek safety away from an abusive spouse. You may need to secure housing if you have chosen to move out. You also may need to re-learn how to eat well, sleep properly and attend to your other immediate needs if your divorce has left you drained and unmotivated to attend to them.

Once you have secured your immediate physical and emotional needs, you will likely transition to the “alive” stage in which you regain the ability to laugh, breathe a little more easily and move more frequently. You may start becoming more social and will likely gain confidence in yourself and your life.

Finally, you will likely reach the stage in which you start to thrive. Your divorce may still cause you pain from time to time but you will have rejoined the world in new and exciting ways. This stage may seem like a lifetime away but if you take good care of yourself and remain open, this stage will likely find you sooner than you probably expect it to.

Source: The Huffington Post, “From Surviving to Thriving,” Lisa Arends, Feb. 17, 2014

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