AFTER SEPARATION


Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 21 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.

In my very first column, I mentioned that the approach to family law issues often involves help from other professionals as well as your lawyer.

This week Dr Vanessa Ghea from Rockhampton City Psychology joins us again to talk about grieving and coping emotionally after a separation.

The first thing that you must do after you have separated is to recognise that it’s okay to have different feelings.

At times such as these, it’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused – and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future.

Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the relationship was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown can be frightening.

Secondly, give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time.

You may not be able to be quite as productive at your work or care for others in exactly the way you’re accustomed to for a little while. No-one is superman or superwoman; take time to heal, regroup and re-energise.

Don’t go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations.

Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships, and overall health.

Don’t be afraid to get outside help if you need it.

You must always remember that moving on with your life is the end goal.

Expressing your feelings liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyse the situation.

Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.

It is very important to remind yourself that you still have a future. When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to see those dreams fall apart. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisaged, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones. This may seem an impossibility at the moment, but you must hold on to the belief that things will get better and blue water lies ahead.

It is important that you recognise the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression. Grief can be paralysing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression. You should seek medical assistance if you are in any way concerned.

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