Why I Divorced My Grief


by Terrell L. Whitener

My dear brothers, recently I decided to get a divorce.  The actual divorce was not between myself and another person but with emotion, I had carried for far too long.  That emotion was grief.

Realistically, our grief will always assume some space in our existence; however, in my case, I decided to no longer allow it to accept as much space in my emotions as it had previously taken up residence.

Full disclosure, I will eternally miss my wife.  However, my wife, in the way I knew her, is no more.  She will forever rest in my heart, but the space I give her in my present and future happiness has less space.  Let me explain my rationale.

Growing up, I suffered from asthma.  Over the years, the condition subsided, and I could live a reasonably asthma-free life.  There was still the inhaler the trainer had in their kit on the sidelines of my football games over the years just in case I needed it, but I rarely had to ask for it.  Realistically occasionally, I can feel a slight rattle or wheeze in my chest that lets me know that asthma will be forever with me.  Grief, my dear brothers, is a condition that will always be with me.  Like asthma, grief no longer has a stranglehold on my emotions.

Why is it important for me to acknowledge the fact that I have divorced my grief?  I am glad you asked.

  1. Grief attacks our ability to breathe deeply the full gravity of being happy again.  I remember the relief I felt when I could take a full deep breath after an attack had subsided.  Like asthma, it allows me to breathe in freely again.  I have learned to once take and soak in the full measure of a full deep breath of happiness in my life.
  2. Love again.  I almost missed the call because I did not remember the ringtone of love.  Like many, love owed me nothing else in my life.  So, it was almost impossible for me to identify these new feelings I was experiencing when it came along.
  3. Divorcing grief helped me to cherish the dream of all possibilities that may remain in my life.  Though true, I will not have the opportunity to experience many things with my late wife, the pursuit of happiness and the search for personal dreams must move forward.  Divorcing grief may afford such opportunities to occur in your life once more.
  4. Divorcing grief could lead to letting go of your feelings of guilt.  Once divorced, the sense of guilt has a more challenging time taking up residence in your heart and mind.  Sometimes, this may be referred to as “survivors’ remorse.”
  5. Finally, you gain the resolve to live again fully.  It will not be the same.  I can not even venture to convince you that it will feel as enjoyable but permitting yourself to live is an act of self-grace we all deserve.

The divorce I have referenced does not include the division of property or the visitation schedule that some have previously experienced.  But it does come with its menu of challenges.  But with every challenge comes an opportunity, and with every challenge comes personal choices.  Divorcing grief is no different.

What I have shared in the article may resonate with some while being dismissed by others.  Many will not be ready.  Grief may be the glue that holds your sanity together right now.  But time and exposure can breed new opportunities in our lives.  I wish you nothing but the best no matter what you decide.

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach.  Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss.  His second book Speaking From the Heart of Widows and Widowers, will be released soon.  Terrell can be reached at his website thedebriefgroup365.com; there, you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widowers Support Network.  More details to come.

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