After an unhappy marriage, divorce can feel like a liberation.
For others, however, a divorce - particularly for those whose children have grown up and flown the nest - can lead to aching loneliness.
Some find it hard to be by themselves in silent, empty homes. Others find it difficult to sleep alone. And still more find themselves latching onto their older children for company, and becoming reliant on them when they’re feeling down.
Divorce Coach Sara Davison explains: “If you have been married for a long time and the children have all flown the nest and now your ex has gone the silence can be deafening and it can feel extremely overwhelming.
“I see many clients in my clinic who are struggling to cope with being on their own after their break-up. Loneliness is an interesting emotion as it affects people in different ways.
“For some it is the motivation to get out and do more with their lives, even if they are not sure what at first.
“But for others it can have a variety of negative effects such as:
Locking yourself away and never going out
Waiting for someone to rescue you
Losing your zest for life
Latching onto your children for emotional support
Sara explains that, no matter how we feel, we can survive a divorce, and will, if we keep a positive attitude as we go ahead alone.
“By learning to become more self-reliant you will reduce your fear of being alone as you know you will be able to manage on your own,” she says firmly.
Here are Sara’s top tips to help you through the initial loneliness of your divorce:
Plan your diary ahead of time and book activities in so you have things coming up to look forward to. This way there is a light at the end of the tunnel when you start to feel lonely.
Make sure you get out of the house at least once a day. Even if you just go for a walk around the block it will help you to feel better. You will see other people and maybe interact in a shop or café which will give you a boost.
Get some fun back in your life by starting up a hobby, joining a local class, do some charity work or begin a project you have always wanted to do.
Don’t suffer in silence. Tell friends and family if you are struggling so they can offer help and support. Get professional help if you need it from your GP.
However, while it’s good to lean on friends and family in times of difficulty, this can cause issues.
Particularly if you find yourself leaning too heavily upon your grown-up children.
Sara explains: “It’s important to maintain boundaries as, even though they are all grown up, you are still the parent.”
Sara goes on to stress that your adult children can often give good advice and will have your best interests at heart, so you should be able to turn to them when you need them.
After all, every parent-child relationship is different.
However she does advise that parents remain aware of the situation and look out for the following signs that they are putting too much pressure on their children.
Oversharing personal details that make them feel uncomfortable. Even adult children do not want to hear about their parent’s sex life or other intimate details.
Bad mouthing your ex. This is still their parent and they may resent you talking the other parent down to them and you could alienate them
Dumping your old responsibilities on their shoulders. For example, asking them to care for your ex or do certain jobs for them because you are no longer there to do it. Remember they will have their own lives now and may not be able to take on much more.
Making them the go-between. Whilst they may want to care for both of you still it can be awkward if you are constantly putting them in the middle especially if there is a lot of conflict.
They may find your divorce upsetting. Even though they no longer live with you and have grown up the breaking up of their family home and seeing you now live separate lives can be very difficult no matter how old your children are. Don’t forget they may need some support from you too.
Traditional family occasions. Be aware and sensitive about sharing these events equally with your children as they may find it hard to choose between you
New partners. Adult children often find it hard to see their parents with new partners as they have only known you with their other parent. Be considerate of their feelings and appropriate with signs of affection in front of them.
Sara adds: “Remember that loneliness doesn’t have to last forever, it is not a permanent state. There are things that you can do to rebuild your life and get back on track.
“By shifting your focus onto doing things you enjoy and being around people you love then you can soon rediscover a whole new and exciting future after your divorce.”
Sara Davison is an expert break-up, separation and divorce coach who developed the UK’s first Divorce Coaching program which provides individuals with the tools, techniques and advice needed to help individuals navigate and better cope with the process of divorce.
For more information on Sara, or to book a one to one consultation, log on to her website or follow her on Facebook (Sara Davison Divorce Coaching), Twitter (@SDDivorcecoach) and Instagram (SaraDavisonDivorceCoach).
Alternatively, book yourself on her next break-up retreat from the 20th – 21st May 2016 via her website.
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