We are all familiar with the in-flight safety demonstration, wherein the flight attendant instructs that in the case of emergency, passengers traveling with small children should first secure their own oxygen mask, and then assist their children. This is, by analogy, true at the inception of the divorce process as well.
When parents commence the divorce process, so much is expected of them – Emotionally deal with the loss of a very important relationship, get out of bed each morning and go to work so the job is not lost, make sure the bills get paid, deal with fears as to financial future, interview and hire a lawyer, prepare all of the initial documentation needed of the divorce process, worry about the children’s future, and keep as much normalcy for the children as possible. This is way easier said than done! None of it will be done well if the parent is not emotionally supported through it all. Depression, anxiety, sadness and stress can be overwhelming and all-consuming. But, this is when the children need their parents more than ever.
The parent needs to put that oxygen mask on, and seek out the assistance of a therapist to help stabilize, ground, and support the parent throughout the difficult process that divorce is. A lawyer, no matter how experienced and compassionate, is not a therapist and insurance does not cover their hourly rate. It is true that friends and family members can provide invaluable emotional support. However, experience shows that they begin to tire of hearing about the soon-to-be ex-spouse and the challenges of the divorce a few months before the divorce is final.
A therapist, skilled in providing support throughout the divorce process, can be there for the parent as much, and then as little, as needed. In the early stages of the divorce, weekly sessions may be needed. At various times throughout the pending process, the weekly sessions may need to resume as the divorce reaches an intense stage, such as when a hearing approaches. Even when the divorce is finally over, that therapist with whom a strong therapeutic relationship has been established can be invaluable for sorting through the feelings associated with closure, and with the prospect of new beginnings. Even years after the divorce case closes, when a significant other is introduced to the children, a blended family presents itself, or the children enter a new developmental stage causing challenges, that therapist will be greatly appreciated. They are the oxygen mask to get a parent through divorce, and even thereafter.