Grieving over an ex-spouse | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I hope everyone had a happy Easter. Holy Week was great in Manila. What a joy it was, not having to dodge a million and one motorbikes. My driver didn’t ask for time off. He was delighted to be in Manila. He had asked, with dread in his voice, if we were going to Batangas or Baguio, and his face lit up when I said we’d stay put.

My daughter went to Tali Beach and got stuck in Sta. Rosa and Tagaytay. From Alabang, it took five hours to their destination.

Despite SCTEx and TPLEx and the newly completed Pozorrubio Pangasinan toll exit, my nephew took 10 hours to get to Baguio. Another friend was on the road eight hours to get to Quezon. It normally takes not quite four.

And so Lent is over and we’re again in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Oh well.
It is sad that some of us treat Easter as just the end of a season of sacrifice, and a return to old habits.

In school, we were always asked to list what we were giving up for Lent. It was always chocolates for me.

I couldn’t wait for the purple vestments to disappear and I could sit down in front of a Hershey bar and demolish it.

How seriously do we really commemorate that one early Sunday morning, when they discovered the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. Do we even pause to give thanks?

It was many years after convent school when it finally made sense to me. I understood that no matter what I did or didn’t do, I could never earn heaven.

I realized that the baby born in a stable on that cold holy night in Bethlehem grew up to spill his blood on the cross, and that He came only to pay ransom for us, to atone for our sins, and to open heaven for those who believe.

That’s such good news! Rejoice!

Sudden jolt

Just when you think all is nice and wonderful, life throws you a curve ball. And you have no choice but to deal with it. You scrape up every ounce of courage and face up to the reality that life is real and all too short.

Grief for an ex-spouse. God knows I have been through this before. It isn’t easy. But not too much is written to guide us through this type of bereavement. I don’t know of any support group that offers help.

I remember several years ago, a dear friend was in the same situation. Her marriage had been hopelessly flawed. Their inevitable separation was full of bitterness. But years later, when her ex-spouse passed away, she felt genuine sorrow and spoke of her deep regret. “All those years of anger! What a waste!”

I have lifted a few pointers from articles I found online that may help us deal with this phenomenon.

One writer explains, “We grieve because we have loved. No matter how a relationship ends, there are good times and good memories. It is normal to remember and grieve.”

Reasons for grieving

She continues, “We grieve because we share history, especially when there are children. There is life after a divorce and it does not erase the memories, good or bad, regardless of the magnitude of the hurt or the lack of forgiveness.

“We grieve over what used to be, and what might have been.

“We grieve because we cared for the same people. And we grieve with them.

“Grieving over an ex-spouse revisits memories and mistakes. It challenges us to look deeply inside at who we are and how we have grown.”

In “Heartache to Healing,” the author says, “Often, when I talk with those grieving a death, it is of utmost importance to know their loved one’s life mattered, and one way we can be supportive is to talk about the person who died, share memories and be willing to speak their name.”

One writer advises, “Be glad for the good times and lay to rest the bad. But don’t try to dismiss your grief. A loss is a loss.

“I don’t think divorce should define who we loved and and how we grieve.” I so agree.

Columnist Laurie Graham has this to say about losing her ex-husband. She wondered, “Am I entitled to grieve? The grief I felt took me by surprise with its intensity.”

She talks about her sadness, her regrets over the bad times and nostalgia for the good ones: “I wept, but only when I was alone.”

My turn

It has been over a week. I have felt confused and shocked at the rush of myriad emotions.

Again, I see the pain of my children, and it breaks my heart. I am focused on being their rock and may allow myself to be jelly later, in private where no one can misunderstand.

For me, it is a time of sadness and regret. The fault of a failed relationship does not belong to only one party. I know that now.

There is so much to be thankful for. By God’s grace, we raised wonderful children. Mine and ours.

They say we should forgive and forget. There is nothing left to forgive. A long time ago I chose to kiss each hurt away and lift it up to the Lover of my soul. But I will always remember.


My friend called. He is worried about me. He also not too subtly suggested it was time for me to write my memoirs. I laughed.

He asked, “How are you really?” I told him it was all good.

What I really wanted to do was sing with all my heart, the words of an old church hymn: “It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

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