Those of us who have gone through a divorce understand all too well the pain and grief we experience. We have lost our spouse, what we thought was our life partner, a loss similar to the death of a loved one. What is worse though, is losing all the many aspects of a life lived together as a couple and family. The fact is that many of our married friends cannot really understand that loss, which only serves to make us feel more isolated.

It is the loss of a total way of life… of extended family members, of holidays spent together and a social life with other married couples to name just a few of the losses associated with divorce. Recently, a divorced friend remarked that her married friends didn’t know what to do with her. Where we used to spend our Saturday nights with other married couples or Sundays on family outings with a treasure trove of kids, now there is little physical contact or more often, none at all.

Where did those family dinners together with friends go? We’re still here. Why don’t we see our married friends socially outside of a party? I know that we are all busy with our own little worlds but I sense that these former close friends simply don’t ‘get’ the loneliness and sense of loss we are experiencing. We divorced people understand that things are no longer the same; we know that better than anyone.

For those of living far away from our extended families it is even more difficult. My ex’s family lives within minutes of him so he still has the comfort of having his family close by for support. Not so for those of us whose families are a plane ride away. The simple joy of a Sunday night family dinner with our brothers, sisters and parents eludes us. We watch as our kids walk out the door to spend Sunday night with our ex and their grandparents and a vacuum opens up within us.

The holidays are another example of what once a source of joyous anticipation that is now an event that evokes sadness. Flying home to spend Thanksgiving without our children is lonely. I know other divorced people who say that part never gets easier. Sitting at that big table with our extended family but not our own beautiful children always causes my eyes to well with tears. I wonder if I will ever get used to it.

I am relatively new to this major life transition. Things that I took for granted are constantly popping up as yet another challenge and reminder of my new status. For example, just recently I was invited to my former brother-in-law’s children’s Bar Mitzvah but I was not invited to the family dinner the night before or the Sunday brunch afterwards. I was reminded that I was no longer a member of the family.

For me, divorce is not so much about losing my spouse as it is about losing the life I led for nearly twenty years. I can accept the fact that my marriage is over. I understand what went wrong or to be more precise, what didn’t work. I am re-building a life for myself, both as a single parent and a single, working woman. Nonetheless, the road to recovery is far from over. Getting the official divorce is just one step in the process. Then the real work begins:

What has been revealed to me is the fact that the road to a new life must involve new friends who have more in common with my new life. Mind you, I have the most wonderful and supportive friends who have helped me through this crisis. They will be in my life forever but they cannot fill many of the holes that must be filled. I see that this new life will mandate that I find other people who understand my experience because they too have gone through it.

I need people who I can have dinner with when my married buddies are out with each other. I need people who want to take in an exhibit at a museum when my ex has the kids on a weekend. I want to find another person with this same, new family unit who wants to go on vacation together. As you can see, divorce is really starting all over again. It’s all about creating a new and hopefully better life.

For those of us who are well into middle age, it can be extremely frightening. What we thought were going to be our golden years, the culmination of all the planning and dreaming we did as a couple, is not to be. We must find a new path to follow. We must create new dreams.

I am aware that time heals many wounds and things will get easier as they become more habitual. I also know that a new perspective on life that reflects that life is now filled with new opportunities and possibilities is mandatory. I am well into creating a new career and following interests and personal dreams that I have become reacquainted with over the last year or so. That does feel good.

My work allows me to give back to the world which brings me fulfillment and joy. I am pursuing activities that will bring me into contact with new people. I am doing things that I always loved but had neglected for too long. All that leads to more positive change and growth.

It also helps to lessen the pain of adjustment. It helps relieve the pain of the losses that I have experienced and continue to experience. But that pain is still there, sometimes shocking and more often numbing. I know the pain will lessen as time goes by. I have learned that if I am to be happy in this new life, I cannot depend on anyone other than myself.

What I have learned on a very deep level is we can only control ourselves and little else. Things happen. They always will. It is how we choose to handle what happens in our lives that makes all the difference in the world. We must accept reality for what it is and not for what we think it should be. It is only in that acceptance that we are able to move forward. The bumps in life’s road will always be there. That’s life.

Creating a new life isn’t necessarily easy but I know now that not only is it possible, but also filled with new horizons which is kind of exciting. It’s a matter of believing that life will once again be filled with happiness and joy.

Author's Bio: 

Shelley Stile is an ACC certified Divorce Recovery Life Coach and author who guides her clients to let go the pain of their divorce and move on to create new and vibrant lives after divorce. Shelley has been through her own divorce so she knows first-hand about the journey of divorce recovery. Shelley coaches her clients on a one-on-one basis and also leads tele-seminars and workshops. She has published powerful articles and books on life after divorce and is the author of the new book, 95 Transformational Tips for Letting Go and Moving On After Your Divorce available at

She is a certified coach and member of the International Coaches Federation, the governing body for Life Coaching. Shelley trained with the Coaches Training Institute and the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching’s Spiritual Divorce Recovery.

Receive her free, powerful e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce’, and her monthly ‘Take Back Your Life After Divorce’ Newsletter by going to: or contact Shelley at to schedule a free consultation and sample session of divorce coaching. For more information on Divorce Recovery Coaching, go to