Sign Up for
Our Newsletter

Global Guide to Divorce
Jack Jack the Cat

Dealing with Grief when an Ex-Spouse Dies

Going through a divorce encompasses the stages of grief. There may be anger or signs of depression during divorce. One may be in denial about the whole process and thus delaying the sessions. One mourns losses – identity, lifestyle, or losing some mutual friends. It takes time getting through the grief process with divorce and moving on.

When an ex dies, this grief cycle can be reactivated again. Even if the former spouse is a dim recollection, their death can trigger a myriad of emotions. It can start one on a trip down Memory Lane with rehashing both the good and troubling ones. Shock may be the first reaction. Take a pause in your busy life to acknowledge and then process these mixed emotions. Pour out your feelings to friends over lattes, get some fresh air with a walk in a leafy area, or release tension through physical activities. There are no “shoulds” – “I should feel sad” I should have done…..” You did what you felt was best at that time. Whatever you are feeling is fine.

In some cases, the death of a former spouse brought up the issue of abandonment all over again, as it had with divorce. Other folks I interviewed, claimed that they felt absolutely nothing upon hearing about their former partner’s demise. It felt impersonal as if it was someone in the news who had died. Their divorce was behind them and their ex had not been in their thoughts for a long time. Three women who had divorced abusive husbands, felt a sense of relief when these men died. It was closure for a traumatic time in their lives and they no longer had to worry about bumping into these toxic former spouses.

People can be devastated when learning about their former spouse’s passing. This death firmly closes the door to fantasies of reuniting when one has carried a glimmer of hope for their ex’s return.  Please read more…