How to cope with death, divorce and relationship break-ups?

Last updated on: 10/04/2017

In the course of my experience as a family lawyer, I have dealt with many divorces. I would like to share with you some of my observations about death, divorce and relationship break-ups in this article.

1) Give yourself a period of time to grieve

When one goes through death, divorce or a relationship break-up, one should allow oneself to have a period to grieve the loss of a loved one. Indeed, in the past, a period of mourning would be expressed in wearing sombre and dark clothing. Indeed, it is an instinctive and natural reaction for human beings to want to grieve after a death, divorce or a relationship break-up, and it is very wise for one to allow oneself the time and luxury of grieving. Indeed, the grieving process is essential in allowing one to recover from the death, divorce or relationship break-up.

In certain cases in the past and even today, the grieving would be administered sedatives in very extreme cases to calm them down. Indeed in the vicissitudes of life, it is important to get help if your period of grieving is too difficult to handle. Whilst we do not recommend turning to drugs etc., going out with your good friend for a round of social drinking may help you to cope with the grief of a death, divorce and relationship break-up. Also, do get more sleep or allow oneself to sleep more, as is the case for some people who feel very tired and drained during the period of grieving the death, divorce and relationship break-up. And do not be too harsh on yourself if you decide to indulge in food and put on some weight as a result. The proverbial depiction of women indulging in comfort food such as ice cream after a break-up may be a good way of helping you to cope with a break-up. Also, do indulge in some retail therapy, if it helps you regain your joy and self-esteem to buy nice clothes or nice things for yourself.

In the words of the popular Take That song “Shine”

“Stop being so harsh on yourself, it’s not good for your health. I know that you can change so clear your head and come around. You only have to open your eyes, you might just get a big surprise And it may feel good and you might want to Smile Smile Smile.”

If you are still unable to cope with the grief of a death, divorce or a relationship break-up, do seek professional help with a counsellor, therapist or even a psychiatrist.

It is best at this point in time not to compare oneself with friends who appear to have happy and smooth-sailing lives, and if necessary do disconnect or kick your social media habit of checking out your friend’s photos on Facebook or Instagram and envying your friends and pitying yourself. It is a vicious cycle and you will find yourself spiralling downwards.

2) Throw yourself into your work

In a French movie “Delicacy” starring Audrey Tautou, the main character played by Audrey Tautou throws herself into her work after her husband passes away. She tells a fellow co-worker “Do you think this (her job) is all I’ve got?”

Indeed, people surrounding you may react in such a way when you throw yourself into your work after the death, divorce or a relationship break-up with a loved one. You may be perceived to be compensating for the loss of a loved one by throwing yourself into your job. Indeed a successful career does not compensate one for the lack of being in a loving relationship. However, the converse is also true that if one is unduly affected by the grief of death, divorce and a relationship break-up, and this affects one’s work performance, one’s problem of grief would be compounded with other work problems, including unemployment and the resulting stress of being financially strapped.

In the case of the main character played by Audrey Tautou, she eventually recovers from the death of her husband and finds new love. Indeed, it appears that by throwing herself into work, it helps her in her grieving process and her job anchors her through this difficult period. The main character’s ability to find new love is a success story, and it should encourage everyone who is going through a death, divorce or relationship break-up to throw yourself into your job, there is nothing wrong with this.

The benefits of throwing oneself into work after death, divorce or a relationship break-up is that work can be “redeeming” and most people find that by being absorbed in their work, they can momentarily forget the grief of having lost a loved one through death divorce or a relationship break-up. In fact, through throwing oneself into one’s work, one can turn a setback into success i.e. in the case of the author JK Rowling who threw herself into work after divorce, and wrote the remarkably successful series of Harry Potter novels.

3) Do not move on into a relationship soon after

In Hollywood, which is well known for divorces and relationship break-ups, there are some celebrities who represent on a larger scale, the behavioural pattern of some people after they experience a death, divorce or relationship break-up in that they move on into a new relationship soon after the death, divorce or relationship break-up, even before they have had time to recover from their previous relationship.

At the end of the day, not only do they move on into relationships while being in love with their ex, they are not actually “present” in their new relationship and often times especially in a divorce or relationship break-up they are using the new relationship and the new partner as a way to retaliate and show their ex that they have someone “new”.

Such a way of reacting is not recommended. Instead, one should accept that it takes time to get over a death, divorce or relationship break-up and conduct oneself with dignity and move along in life, forming organic relationships, rather than moving into new ones even before one is ready for a new marriage or relationship.

In conclusion, please do contact us should you wish to know more about the legal consequences of a divorce and legal advice and representation in this regard.

Written by Grace Tan, Senior Associate, Golden Law LLC