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Meditations for the Divorced
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WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

A friend asked, "Am I supposed to congratulate you or express my condolences?"
          —Mel Krantzler

My divorce felt like a funeral service without a dead body or an official time to mourn. One day I was married, the next I was not. No sick leave, no time off to grieve, no nothing. Just back to the job without any chance to reflect on or acknowledge the enormous change in my life.

When I lost a loved one through death, people were very kind. They sent cards and flowers, came to visit, prayed with me and above all, were sensitive to my loss. But when I lost a loved one through divorce, well, that was another story. Some said, "Congratulations," some made a joke of it, and some told me they were sorry. While most, it seemed, just wanted to say something polite but not too personal.

While some of their behavior could be explained by the lack of divorce rituals in our culture, some was due to the fact I didn't know how to act myself. So I kept people at a distance with my aloof responses, yet all the while I was longing for their empathy and desperately praying for understanding and guidance.

Then one day, undoubtedly with the help of God, a good friend broke through that reserve by asking just the right question at just the right time. It wasn't anything profound. She just said, "How are you really feeling?"

"Like there's been a death in the family," I said, letting the words tumble out in a rush. "More than anything I need to talk about the divorce to come to grips with it. I don't want to be bitter, but I need to be sad. Not for any particular thing that happened, but because my marriage is dead."

When I finally stopped talking I felt so much better.  I had been strangling myself by suppressing my emotions. Acknowledging my thoughts was the beginning of the grief work I desperately needed to do.

After releasing that tight grip on myself I became less distant with friends. That, in turn, made them more comfortable with me, and was an important step in helping me to accept my divorce.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to recognize and express my feelings.

—Pattie Bynum

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