“The End.” The last song recorded by the Beatles, and their shortest. For some “the end” drags on and on and on, plaguing  a divorcee. James Chau, a respected divorce lawyer in San Jose California, and author of the San Jose Family Law Blog, recently cited a survey on the feelings of the parties to a divorce after the final Judgment and Decree has been entered. According to Chau:

The survey revealed that only after a year and half are divorcees really ready to move on. Six of ten people surveyed said the hardest thing to overcome was the sense of failure and 5% of those surveyed said even several years after the divorce they were still trying to come to terms. In total, a fifth said they will never truly get over a divorce and 55 percent said it was the worst thing they had ever gone through. The survey of 4,000 divorcees was carried out by the dating website www.fifties.com, which is caters to those 50 and over.

The survey also revealed startling differences in divorcees’ reactions to the news their marriage is officially finished. Although 43 percent felt relieved when their judgment came through, 31 percent were sad that it was over. Another 16 percent even said they felt distraught. The article states that while it might be an average of nearly 18 months before divorcees are totally content, they start feeling better about their life after 16 months. Around this time, it appears that divorcees start dating again. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed arranged a meeting through friends and twenty-eight percent tried online dating sites. Also, about 49 percent of divorcees would rather meet someone who has had a similar experience.

Read the entire article referenced by Chau here.

I’m not surprised by the results of this sampling. I would guess that in more than half of the cases we handle, the final hearing is extremely difficult on our clients. I can’t count the number of final appearances we have made with a client who, in responding to rather simple questions from the court, breaks down in tears. Those are the times that are the toughest as a family lawyer. It’s also why I choose to focus in the area. While many of my law school classmates represent insurance companies or handle tax issues (and deserve respect for doing so), I have the privilege of helping real people every single day through very difficult, life-changing situations. For me, that is personally fulfilling.

Here is my brave attempt, as an amateur psychologist (took 101 in college), to offer some advice on bringing closure following the final drop of the gavel:

  • Recognize that it is normal to have a multitude of feelings, such as sadness, loss, guilt and anger, following divorce. You aren’t strange to feel a little confused and there are many out there who feel the same way.
  • Don’t fight the feelings you have. Once you accept that you aren’t in a position to “control” your thoughts, you can work toward healing.
  • Accept that you may not have an “A” game in place for a while. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Share your feelings with others you trust, such as family, friends, clergy or therapists. Or, find a good divorce support group. We all learn the most from each other by hearing another’s difficult story.
  • Stay positive. Keep in mind that things will get better as time goes on. You’ve already hit bottom, so the only place you can go is up, right?