5. Coping with separation and divorce

Experiencing a divorce or separation can be one of the most emotional and stressful times in your life. Trying to juggle day to day life when you are going through such a change and loss can leave you feeling drained and overwhelmed.

Feelings at work

With work consistently busy, it can often leave a person operating on auto-pilot. You may continue to plan your lessons and continue teaching putting the situation in your family life to the back of your mind. Coping with a separation or divorce is often a painful experience, especially during the early days when everything often feels surreal. You may not feel ready to share this with anyone at this stage, and it is up to you when you feel able to talk about this with friends, family or employers.

Guilty feelings

Feeling guilty during a divorce or separation can be often the hardest emotion to cope with. It is very natural to process your thoughts and feelings, wondering whether you could have done or said anything to prevent things going in this direction.

If you have children, you will be trying to support them during this change in your family circumstances, which will may leave you feeling guilty. It might be incredibly difficult working with children who are experiencing something similar at home. This is a natural feeling for many teachers who are experiencing a divorce or separation.

Children with enough support will adjust to being part of a separated family. If it is difficult to communicate and make arrangements with your ex-partner, perhaps you can both consider mediation. This can be a positive step in making arrangements in a controlled setting.

Is time really a healer?

You might here that old saying that time is a great healer from well-meaning family members, friends or colleagues. It can be frustrating to hear this when your emotions and feelings are very raw. Going through this change is likened to experiencing grief and loss. It is natural to go through a bereavement process for your old life and to feel anxious about the future without your partner.

As much as it is a cliché, things do get better in time. It can be hard to envisage moving on, but it does happen and the process will take as long as it needs to help you accept your new circumstances.   

Managing stress or depression during a divorce or separation

Feelings of stress and depression can often manifest during this time. Finding a source of support may help you heal and you might want to think about finding a counselling service. This could be available through your school or there are independent organisations such as Dialogue First or Relate. 

Tips on helping you move forward

Think about things you can do at home to help alleviate the stress or depression. If you can incorporate changes into your routine or life, it may help you to move forward in a positive way. Some ideas include:

  • Plan something with your children, friends or family, orarrange something you have always wanted to do but have never tried.
  • Trying a new hobby, such as walking, yoga or learning a language. It can give you time and space to think and arrange your thoughts in a therapeutic way.
  • It may help to keep a journal of your experiences and feelings. This can be a great way of releasing negative thoughts and provides a record of how much progress you have made, even when you feel like you haven’t made any.
  • Look after yourself and find ways of recharging your batteries. It might just be a bit of time to yourself in the evenings or reading a book that gives you some comfort. Have a cut-off point when it comes to bringing home work from school.
  • It may help to join some supportive online forums so you can see how others have coped in similar situations including Family Lives
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