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How to survive and thrive through the divorce process

How to survive and thrive through the divorce process

If you think caring for an elderly parent while also caring for children is challenging, doing so while navigating the divorce system is near impossible. It is at this time that you must muster up all the power in the world. Fear and self-doubt will stand in your way, but it is doable. It must be doable. You have no other option. Your parent needs you and, at the same time, your children need you.

Divorce is an upheaval for children. It is specifically at this time that they most need your attention, affection, and consistency. Even though, for you, your life is unstable and in a state of flux, your children need you to provide them with a sense of permanence and stability. This is necessary while, at the same time, you are caring for an elderly parent, and also managing your many other responsibilities, including your job and career.

How to survive the divorce process 

Here are 5 tips on how to survive (and even thrive) through this most challenging moment in your life:

1. Be honest.  

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your friends. Be honest with your colleagues. Let everyone know what your life circumstances are. You will be pleasantly amazed to find courtesy and compassion existing around you. You will find help and support from people that you would not have expected. It is at this challenging time that you will discover humanity, civility, and community. 

But you will not uncover that kindness without being open, honest and candid about your personal situation. Take note that not everybody will be so giving. Indeed, there will be some disappointments from even family members and close friends. Do not focus on 'what is not', but be grateful for 'what is'.

2. Accept that there may be casualties. 

When people fight, people get hurt. Your divorce should not be a war or a fight. The loss of a spouse is tragic, but not terminal. After having created a life together, including children, you are forever partners. Willingly or otherwise, divorced spouses remain part of your family. Graduations, weddings and funerals bring family together. So too does the trauma of your present situation.

As difficult as this may seem, treat your spouse and your in-laws as part of your family and ask for help - help to get through this situation together. The best possible outcome is an amicable divorce, your spouse's assistance and even concessions in your settlement. The worst outcome may be a denial of help - but even so with him or her having a better understanding of your situation.

3. Investigate. 

Be the world's best private investigator and search for every government, community, or religious resource available to guide you through the divorce planning as well as to prepare you for life after divorce.

There are dozens of community groups that offer support in times of transition, loss, and need. You will be surprised to find that there is help available to you – mostly free of charge. You will not obtain this help, or even know that it exists, without investigating it. Indeed, this task may even be delegated to one of your friends or family members. Either way, take advantage of it. Then one day, when your situation is better, reciprocate and volunteer your time to help someone who is in the situation that you once found yourself in.

4. Be realistic. 

Recognize your strengths and your limitations. Take inventory of your life, your family commitments, your work commitments, and your present health. Just like on an airplane at a time of emergency, the flight staff urges you to first place the oxygen mask on yourself before giving oxygen to your child. So too you must first ensure your personal health and safety. You offer no assistance to anyone if you yourself are unhealthy or weak.

5. Be patient. 

The thing about time is it does not stand still. As the old adage goes: "Time heals all wounds". So too, divorces have a start and end date. Although the needs of children will never end, they are forever in transition and will ebb and flow. It is likely that the demands placed upon you will be less in the future [likely followed by more at a time when you are stronger].

Realize that more good times and difficult times are ahead. By taking a long-term view to life, you are giving yourself the strength and confidence you need to get through this most difficult time in your life.

Kelly Clarkson sings a song that contains good advice at a time like now:

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Stand a little taller. Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone."

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