Coping with the Trauma of Divorce during COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, stress and tension are on the rise everywhere. If you happen to be navigating a divorce, you’re also dealing with the trauma of ending a relationship, which may be further complicated by the necessary rules of social distancing. Add in illness or a job loss, and there’s a good chance you’re still sharing living arrangements with your soon-to-be ex. That’s a tense environment that nobody wants to endure.

So, what can you do to deal with the pressure of a divorce during a global pandemic? Here are a few suggestions to ponder as you move forward.

Accept your feelings as valid. You may be worried that it’s not right to feel sad about your situation when people are dying from the coronavirus. It’s easy to adopt that mentality, especially for those who are exceptionally empathetic. Maybe you feel like your relationship problems pale in comparison to what others are going through.

But that doesn’t mean the trauma of your divorce isn’t real, or that it doesn’t impact your mental health. Both things can be important at the same time. The end of a marriage is a major life event, fraught with conflicting and overwhelming emotions. Don’t delegitimize how it’s affecting you just because there are profound problems in the world. Your feelings are worth taking seriously.

Get by with a little help from your friends. They can help make a difference in your life. This will be a bit more complicated than it would be in normal times, but the important people in your life are still your friends – virus or no virus. In fact, in a world where so much feels out of our control, many people are feeling a strong sense of purpose from reassuring friends through their troubles.

When most communication is remote by necessity, it may be more important now than ever to take the initiative to reach out to others. Lean on your friends, express what you’re feeling, and allow them to help distract and entertain you. Even if options to see them in person are limited, your friends are still out there – and they still care about you.

Create a co-parenting plan. For partners with children, the coronavirus pandemic adds another layer of complication to divorce. As difficult as it may sound, you and your ex will need to come up with a co-parenting plan that accounts for the impact of social distancing while also agreeing on safe activities and interactions.

Obviously, disagreements over pandemic safety could be a large part of why you’re divorcing in the first place. But it’s important that you and your ex agree on what you both consider to be safe living arrangements as well as how to navigate custody exchanges.

Consider the benefits of remote counseling and therapy. When strong feelings about divorce continue to persist and become overwhelming, seeking professional help is the right thing to do. It’s good to know that virtual counseling and therapy sessions are readily available. There’s no reason to let technology create a barrier between you and your mental health. Our office professionals are happy to assist you with the process.

Divorce isn’t easy during the best of times, much less in the middle of a pandemic. But when you address the feelings that accompany it, rely on your support network and keep the lines of communication open, you’ll soon discover there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.