In marriages that dissolve, there are endless questions forever begging to be answered. Night after night, behind closed doors, in the privacy of their own homes, men and women around the world are asking why their marriages failed. For those that were left, the question become, "Is there life after divorce, can I truly recover?" For the one who leaves, the most pressing question they face is "Can happiness be found in any marriage relationship?" Divorce isn't a problem found just in the United States, but it is a global problem confronting our world.

Wounded! That's the best way to describe how a person feels after a divorce. For the one that is being divorced, it is a highly emotional state of rejection, pain and suffering, and sometimes even rage. For the one leaving the marriage there is disappointment, failure, and defeat. The breakup of a marriage can be completely devastating and bound to have emotional impact on both partners.

Yet, it is possible for the wounded heart to heal by allowing each of the following five stages of divorce work and successful recovery to happen. Divorce work is the process of dealing with and working through the sense of loss and the emotions caused by the divorce. The five stages are very closely related to the five stages of grief following a death as described by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1997). These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

* Denial: This stage can take many forms from denying that the divorce is ever going to happen to completely denying the emotions that you are feeling. If you find yourself saying "No, really, I'm fine," too early in the separation and divorce process, beware. Face the reality of your feelings and express them honestly.

* Anger: The reasons for anger are many and varied: infidelity, physical or emotional, real or imagined; betrayal that even the "ever after" has come to an end, and with it your secure, dependable future; being left with the full responsibility of child rearing; being kept away from your children and denied visitation; feeling overwhelmed and stupid over so many unfamiliar chores to be done, like bill paying; sudden insecurity over your financial future; rejection. This is just the beginning of a list of reasons to be angry.

* Bargaining: Some try to strike a deal with the soon-to-be-ex hoping for reconciliation, with God for the restoration of their marriage, or with anyone else that will listen for that matter.

* Depression: When bargaining doesn't seem to be getting any where, the overwhelming feelings of depression roll in like a dark cloud of hopelessness and despair. This stage is often considered, "the dark night of the soul." This is a time for going inward and working out the individuals issues that arise. Often it is at this stage that a professional counselor is consulted. Depression is a necessary stage of divorce work and sets the stage for divorce recovery and triumph.

* Acceptance: This doesn't mean great joy or riotous celebration. It simply means you have come to terms with the divorce and have triumphed over adversity. It is a time of accepting that you must get on with your life, when you finally accept your status as a single person and begin to build a new life.

So, who needs to grieve after the breakup of a marriage? Everyone. The left and the leaver must each grieve the loss. The children, the grandparents. No one involved in the death of a marriage goes unaffected by it. No matter who you are, you are going to have to go through the grief process, it can be now, or it can be later, but grieve you must.

But as many divorced individuals will tell you, it is many times easier to heal after a death than a divorce due to the closure and finality of death. In divorce the possibility of restoring the marriage may still be considered an option to one of the partners. Or, if you have children together, you always have to be in contact with the ex-spouse and the reminder of your loss or failure is always present. Regardless of the circumstances that precipitated the divorce, the basis for divorce work is the idea that the break up of a marriage is a loss and loss brings grief.

There are two types of grief; good grief and harmful grief. Good grief is about loving. It is about loving yourself enough to go through the process of "feeling" the pain of loss and change. The sadness, the rejection, the anger, the disappointments, the sense of failure, the bitterness, the loneliness. You must recognize and allow yourself to have the feelings that you are experiencing. Do not try to block or stuff down the feelings of emotional pain but find a very close friend, a counselor, or minister to share your feelings with.

Be selective in whom you confide in and only allow yourself to talk to this person. Express your true feelings about the breakup of your marriage because feelings become toxic when buried alive. These feelings create emotions that get trapped in our unconscious mind and body, creating physical and psychological symptoms, which in turn make recovery impossible.

Most people leave a marriage with a wounded heart. As a spiritual counselor and success coach that is where I generally come into the picture because I work to help individuals heal from the heartbreak of divorce and go on to have a successful recovery. I immediately begin the process by getting my clients to journal. This is a "feelings journal." It is here that the journey of emotional healing begins. Here are some general guidelines:

1. Don't edit as you write; accept whatever comes up.
2. Forget grammar and spelling.
3. Write until you feel finished.
4. If you're new to Journaling, start out with old-fashioned pen and paper.
5. Write in blank journals that are published precisely for this purpose.

In order to heal you must take owner ship of your feelings and admit that you actually have some ugly and unsightly feelings that are hard for even you to admit. You can't keep anything hidden, nothing can be denied. Not even the part of yourself that you didn't want to look at, much less acknowledge. Divorce brings out the dark side of our soul. It is in admitting there are ugly feelings, pain, and suffering, that emotional healing begins.

If you are angry, admit it and write it down; if you are bitter, admit it and write it down in your journal. Identifying your feelings diffuses the intensity and toxicity of emotions. But "feelings buried alive never die." Denial keeps the toxic feeling alive and you will not heal.

Divorcing spouses go through these same five stages of grief –while mourning the death of their marriage. Being aware of them can be reassuring, and help you view your emotional healing as being part of a normal, human process. If you do the healing work you can be reassured that you will FEEL GOOD, BE HAPPY, and ENJOY LIFE again.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Judy Ellison is a psychologist, research scientist, success coach, author and motivational speaker. You can use this article by permission from the author. She can be contacted at her website