3 Words For Those Who Can’t Cope With Divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

I have 3 words for those who can’t cope with divorce. Here they are:

Enjoy. Each. Day.


Why these three words? Here’s the story. A reader commented on one of my articles, “divorce is a fate worse than death.”

Now, my gut reaction to this statement was that this reader has obviously never experienced the death of someone close to him. Otherwise, he would not have written this. I can speak firsthand, as someone who went through a divorce and who lost my father. Two entirely different things and not that I am judging him at all, but  I’ll take the divorce over death any day of the week. The bottom line is, divorce and death are very very different and I don’t think they should be compared.


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That said, I do feel for this guy, or anyone who can’t cope with divorce.  For him to write such a bold statement, he is obviously in a lot of pain, and he is suffering immensely.

We don’t know what his divorce is like. Maybe his wife left, maybe she has turned his kids against him, maybe he is financially in trouble, or maybe he is suffering from loneliness. So for him, he can’t imagine the death of a loved one being any harder than what he is experiencing.

Here is how another reader responded to his statement:

Dude, take a pill. Divorce is not a fate worse than death. For example, I am divorced. I started my day with a run by the river, and then met my girlfriend for brunch. After that, I went to the movies and then had a long call with my Dad about nothing before having a beer. It’s been a pretty good day so far. I haven’t been dead before, so I can’t say definitively, but just going out on a limb, I’d say this is not a fate worse than death.

 Reading this response was like a breath of fresh air to me. Why? Because this reader understands something that many people who can’t cope with divorce don’t. He seems to live by the three words: Enjoy. Each. Day.


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Let me back up. I don’t think anyone wants to be divorced. But, it happens. The pain of divorce can be unbearable. Your ex can do unspeakably horrible things to you. The process can seem really, really unfair and exhausting. And, the regret you might feel can make things seem hopeless. But all these things have one thing in common:

They are all out of your control.

You might not have wanted the divorce. Maybe your spouse just told you one day, “I met someone else, I want a divorce.” Or, maybe you did want the divorce because you had no choice (because of abuse, for example.) In either scenario, you had little or no control. You don’t have control of someone cheating, you don’t have control of a substance abuse issue, and you don’t have control over someone deciding it’s over.

To an extent, everyone has some control over the success of our romantic relationships. In other words, you can put in effort to keep your marriage healthy, but a lot of things are out of your control, mainly your spouse’s behavior, words and actions. Additionally, you have little or no control over the court system, other than to trust your attorney and educate yourself so you can make good decisions.

What many people don’t know how to do is to take all the things they can’t control, put them on a plate and set them aside. Doing this makes room for: peace, acceptance, and action, meaning doing the things you can control. This includes what you choose to do each day of your life.


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I’ll start with this example. You can wake up and do one of these two things:


#1. You can lie there thinking, ‘The house is empty. My ex is waking up with his new girlfriend, happy as can be.’ ‘My kids are at their house and they love her.’ ‘I am going to be alone forever.’ You can then cry and worry about it all day, sit around watching old “Friends” episodes and ordering a pizza.




#2 You can wake up and look out the window and see that the sun is shining. You can think, ‘What do I want to do on this beautiful day that is such a gift to me?’ ‘Do I want to go for a walk, call a girlfriend, go shopping, plan a vacation, go see my family, do some volunteer work?’ ‘What do I want for breakfast? I can have anything I want!’


Think about my reader. He went for a run, ate brunch, went to a movie, talked with his dad, had a beer. That sounds like a great day! I’m sure things weren’t or aren’t easy for him for the simple fact that he is divorced, and nothing is easy about that. But, he is choosing to enjoy his day.


He probably doesn’t do this every day, and no one is expected to be perky and happy every minute of every day. There are times we can nurture ourselves and let ourselves feel the pain of what happened to us, but in the coming months, more and more days should be spent going back to basics and doing what we love, seeing people we enjoy, experiencing and learning new things, and doing what makes us happy and fulfilled.


I tell newly separated people who are really in the thick of feeling crappy and who can’t cope with divorce that they should take some time every single day to enjoy something. It might be an activity with the kids, trying a new restaurant, walking in a garden, or performing a kind or charitable act. Even if you do one thing that makes you realize the beauty of life, your day can’t be that bad.


Enjoy. Each. Day.

Because there will always be challenging, difficult things we all have to deal with (whether you are going through a divorce or not). Problems will always be present. We solve them and then new ones come up. Most we can handle, but there are some we can’t.

Believe me, divorce is one that you can handle. I promise!

So, set aside the problems you can’t control but will eventually solve, and find simple pleasures in life. Do kind things that make you feel good. Laugh a lot. And of course, love love love the ones you love.


Like this article? Check out my article, “Going Through a Divorce? One Word That Will Keep you Out of the Garbage Chute”



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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    20 Responses to “3 Words For Those Who Can’t Cope With Divorce”

    1. Monica

      I can understand this persons feelings. Who are we to judge one persons feelings in just one moment in time. I, myself, have these feelings on more than one occasion. And although my intellect tells me it’s just a bad day, my heart is absolutely on the floor in pieces, at that moment. I am a 47 year old, childless, new divorcee whom made a major career change and have gotten divorced within one year. I would have to disagree that if one feels like death is better than divorce, that person never lost someone he/she loves. To the contrary, I have been through the loss of a death of loved ones, friendships, famiy etc. To put my view into perspective, today is a perfect example. I woke up not wanting to get out of bed, but I did. I didn’t want to go to work, but I did. I could hardly make it through noon, I felt so alone; and I want to make it clear I am not one who wants a pity party. i’m an adult and I’m dealing my own way and not by way of sympathy from outsiders who don’t understand what i’m going through. This morning I just really wanted to die. News. People. Ex cheating on me. ect. I left early, took a xanax, and took a 2 hour nap. I woke up and forced myself to go to the gym. that exercise alone, helped me feel like I had hope again. My day literally took a 180 degree turn. In short, not one persons experiencne is like anothers so we should not judge how one feels at that moment , because it is just a bad day, not a bad life!

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        I love this reply. I guess I never thought of it that way because I went through a divorce long before I had a death in my family. I love the part about you going to the gym. It does make such a difference, doesn’t it? I remember, I used to call my sister sobbing (when I was going through my divorce) and she would say, “Let’s hang up. You should go to the gym and call me back after.” and i would do that and i would always feel better. I wish you lots and lots of really good days ahead and less and less bad ones. xoxo

      • Ana

        I am 46, married 25 and my husband decided he doesn’t love me anymore so he left! My dad died a couple of years ago and i loved my dad! But this pain is worse than the pain of losing my dad!! My dad died! He didn’t choose to leave me… so the pain of death is different! I totally understand him… it’s much worse! I cry myself to sleep I wake up and cry.. I feel so helpless, sad rejected! I gave that man the best years of my life! And now I am old and he leaves me!!! Becase he wants to find his happiness… so selfish! What about breaking my heart and leaving his daughter… I just want to stop crying and be happy again but the days are so long! I wish I could go to sleep and wake up next year when this pain is better or gone!?

        • Jackie Pilossoph

          I just want you to know that I feel your pain and I’m so sorry you are going through this. But, let’s make one thing clear: you are not old! I would give anything to be 46 again! Oh, and by the way, I met the love of my life at 49. Please be patient. It takes time to process your grief. Focus on your daughter and getting healthy. xo

          • Lonely

            I gave up everything and moved to a different state 8 years ago to marry my husband. He begged me to marry him and bought me a house. I found out he was seeing someone after he had asked for a divorce but we were supposed to be trying for 6 months to work it out. He filed for divorce and I got a new job and place to live back where I came from. 2 days before I left I found out this supposed non sexual affair had been going on for 2 years. I’m devastated, I cry all the time, I’ve been suicidal wishing to just sleep and never wake up. He is my second husband and he helped finish raising my son. I’m 47 and I feel like my life is over. My children are grown and I’m alone. I never loved until I met him and that is the reason I left everything I knew to be with him, I thought this is my chance to be happy and never be alone. Here I am, alone and wishing I was with my Mom, brother and grandparents. I have lost all of them and they loved me, it hurt but they loved me. I completely agree it’s worse than death. “My dear, the hardest thing you will ever do is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive “~unknown. He was the best husband ever and the way he looked at me was with so much love. I can’t believe this happened and I can’t believe he doesn’t love me anymore. Our divorce is still pending and I am still praying for a miracle. I am just not sure how to go on.

            • Jackie Pilossoph

              I am truly sorry you are going through this. My first piece of advice is to PLEASE PLEASE see a therapist. You need help and you deserve to get better and move on with your life. Promise me, Ok? You will not feel like this forever. But I want to address one thing you said: “He was the best husband ever.” UMMM…no, he wasn’t. He was a cheater. Period. You deserve to be loved monogamously. He will regret what he did someday, if he doesn’t already. Please, please go to a therapist. I know he or she can help you. your life is not over. So many others have been in your position and they end up happier than they ever thought possible. I hope this helps.

        • Kris

          Hi Ana, your story is so similar to mine! My husband of 25 years walked out in November, said he didn’t love me anymore and I was/am knocked completely off my feet. Then in April my Dad died. The rejection is by FAR harder to handle. A man who promised to be together forever lied and betrayed me. How do you get over that? My Dad did not willingly walk away from me, We had such a tight bond and I’m almost glad he didn’t have to see me go through this (he had Alzeimer’s). It would have broken his heart.. So like you, I think the rejection is worse. The death of a parent is the natural “circle of life” sad as it may be. Spending the rest of my life alone is not the natural course of events that I had anticipated for my life. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    2. Sensei

      Solid advice. It’s important to not get sucked into a “victim mentality” trap. And if you can flip around your way of thinking a bit, you’ll quickly realize that divorce is actually VERY GOOD NEWS! 🙂

    3. Jayne

      My father died when I was a teen, many years before my spouse and I separated. I can honestly say (though it feels dishonorable to my father) that the separation has been much harder to deal with. My father dying was horrible, sad and really tough but it did not leave me feeling rejected, with low self-confidence and facing the possibility I may not have children like the separation has.

    4. catosg

      47 m here going through a divorce and there’s good & bad days and though seeking regular counsellor still sometimes struggle each morning once the reminder hits, I started using these 3 words starting today and I like the positive vibe its giving me. I can wallow later, but now I am going for a walk on this nice spring day and meet friends for sushi.

    5. Amber

      Wow, I just want to say thank you so much for all of these posts. I have to be honest, I would say that how I am feeling right now is a fate worse than death. I am miserable and with every second comes these mind consuming thoughts that I can’t seem to shake.
      My name is Amber and I filed for divorce last week. Not because I wanted to but because I have no control over what my husband wants… no control. Ugh, no control. I can’t believe this is happening to me.
      We have been married for nine years. We have a brand new home and a beautiful little girl. What makes everything worse is that I recently left a full time job to go back to school because it has been something I wanted to do for a long time. I also thought that my husband would be there to support me, to grow old with me, and now I feel lost and empty. I feel like I have nothing left.
      So when does it come? How long does it take? Will I ever be okay again?

      • Leigh

        Hi Amber. I left finally, for the third and last time. I had left him before for about nine months, then went back and then left again for another month and went back AGAIN. This occurred within a two year time span; each time I left because I simply could not take the emotional and mental abuse any longer. Now, a month separated (this time for good ) I am living at my parents home, I have no job (I worked for him) and my vehicle & cell phone…he pays for. I quit my 80k + career four years ago when we got married, I was pressured by him to do so and I caved and it’s my biggest regret in life! I feel hopeless, ashamed and depressed. I cry everyday and I absolutely mourn the life I had planned with my spouse. I feel pathetic and hopeless as each day passes and the fear of the unknown future consumes me. It would almost be easier for me to go back to my horrible life with my spouse than endure the pain I wake up to each and everyday.
        I lost my dad four years ago and I can assure anyone reading this that divorce/separation is not a fate worse than death. If I could trade one situation for the other, I would bring my Dad back in a heartbeat if it meant having to get divorced. I will admit however, that although not suicidal myself I can understand why people have contemplated it whilst going through a messy separation/divorce.
        I am 36 and childless and I feel as though I’ve made some poor choices that have ruined the rest of my life. I know this is not true but it’s hard for me to think otherwise when the thoughts consume me. Yes, I am looking for work but so far nothing and for that I feel like a failure as well.
        I resonate with this article because I have told myself “I can’t do this and I would rather die than go through this” on more than one occasion. This feels like death and I recognize I am grieving the loss of my relationship much the same way I grieved the loss of my Dad. Divorce most certainly is not a fate worse than death, I am grateful to be alive and I will try to find enjoyment and happiness in each day no matter how crappy I feel or how sad I am. I wonder too…will I ever be okay again?

    6. Kristi Shaw Reed

      My husband and I have been married 17 years and he left us, I have a daughter in college and a freshman in high school! We are so close to being empty nested and now I feel like I will be alone forever, and he’s happy as can be! It’s baffling to me, I’m the sole provider in our home and every day he still calls for money groceries etc. Why do I feel it’s my responsibility to still get things for him, I love him and want to be with him, but today I went to the store and this little 20 something who seemed to know me very well says oh hi I saw your ex today ? I clearly was not prepared for the word ex or for wondering how she knew me!! So my fairly decent day turned to what the &$@;? Who is this girl and why does she know I have an ex! So instead of assaulting her across the counter I smiled politely and said tell him hi!! I know In my reality it’s best that we aren’t together but in my pretend mind I want him back so badly! I don’t want the bad days or the interesting checkers asking me questions, and I want to know how to cut off buying him everything he asks for? Like reading my comments I sound crazy and feel that way most of the time!!

    7. Joshua Tilghman


      Great points. I have heard that divorce is worse than death too. I believe some people come to this conclusion because there’s usually closure to death, a certain finality. Whereas with divorce the person who can never let go feels like their former spouse is still within reach (even if they have moved on). These sort of people try to justify holding on and it becomes an emotional roller coaster that never ends. Therefore, it becomes worse for them. That is there choice to remain that way, and it’s sad.

      Like you, and the next e-mailer, I learned to look at the positive after my separation from my wife of 14 years. I chose to look at life with a new perspective, and for me the prospect of divorce became freeing. No more arguing. No more trying to endlessly please her with little results. But it took a lot of time for me to come to this conclusion. I spent many a nights wallowing in self-pity. So, what I am trying to say is, I can understand both perspectives.

      One of the most positive things I did, was also like you, start a blog that could help others through the knowledge and experience I gained as a result of my separation. Thanks for the post!


    8. A

      Great post! My divorce was final last year (time flies!) and I understand what it’s like to feel so hopeless when going through separation and divorce. I had days and nights when I felt so low, even though I was the one who left (due to abuse). I never wanted to be divorced, I wanted to be married and see my kids every day, but it was impossible to live the way I was living any longer. What’s worse, there was financial abuse so as far as money was concerned all I had was my job and living month to month and that was it. My son had to leave private school. My ex was also bullying me to get what little money I did have! People I thought were friends ditched me or sided with my ex. It did feel so hopeless. But I decided that I could choose to focus on the bad things and feel crap or choose to find the blessings. I found something every day to be thankful for. Just anything. Some days it was only “what beautiful weather” or “I got a discount on that item”. It’s amazing what effect that has on your whole life. I now have a great bank balance, I got offered a new job with a higher salary, and my kids are happy. I discovered lots of new hobbies and my days are full and satisfying. I’m 50 and have a whole new start to life not to mention a lot of strength and wisdom from the experience. The more positive you are the faster you can move on.

    9. Chinup

      Having been divorced for nearly 2 years I would say it is probably harder than death of a loved one. Because yeah when someone dies it’s the “natural cycle of life” (as someone mentioned above!)
      We were together for 15 years!!! And I find it’s hard: when you Still love your ex, and didn’t want the divorce, and have six children! I’m 36 & main carer for our children. Finding someone again is much harder when you have a large family.
      Not that I want anyone yet…STILL tryna work on me!! STILL trying to heal!!
      I wake up each day & TRY to look at the positive in my life, same time I’ve learned to appreciate that my children ARE a blessing..that keep me going! Otherwise if I had a choice I’d rather be dead… but I know I need them as much as they need me!
      I wonder when exactly will I feel true joy & not sadness? Two years already seems like long enough. Ps I have been seeing a counsellor, sometimes I wonder why?! Because every session I am the one who comes up with my “aha” moment!
      I go out with ppl who I wanna hang with- but I have found many so called friends/family relationships are different…I’ve felt ppl distance themselves/not sure how to talk to me now etc.
      It is sad that divorce is so commonplace these days. Especially when I believe that love should be with someone forever!

    10. Dor

      Yes Enjoy Each Day is the thing to do
      Divorce is difficult and it is right up there in significance to death
      Death may be easier because the spouse would be dead and one would have closure
      It would be very difficult if u have children
      It takes years to cope with divorce and every situation is different
      Keep busy, see friends and family and take good care of yourself
      Remember the only ones who understand what u r goin through are the ones who went through divorce themselves.

    11. S

      My husband and I have been together for 18 years. I’m 36. I’ve spent half my life with him and my entire adult life with him. we met on my eighteenth birthday. within 3 weeks we were saying I love you. For the first fifteen years of our marriage we spent no more than 21 days apart and never even really had a fight. We said I love you a minimum of 10 times daily. I found out less than a year ago that he’s kept quite a few secrets from me, lied repeatedly to my face, cheated on me, and failed two polygraph tests that were supposed to prove I could trust him. I then went nuts policing him and being insecure. That made me hate myself and pushed him away. I have untreated OCD which doesn’t benefit the situation. He left and wants a divorce. He’s been gone a month. I have two kids in college. I function. spend the day shopping with them. watching movies with them. Household chores, etc. I’m not buried under a blanket. For 18 years I’ve fallen asleep with his arm around me. I physically can’t fall asleep until I’m going on 2 or three days of no sleep. When I feel sick and like the room is spinning. He’s my best friend. A part of me is missing. I can function but what’s the point? I feel empty. I want to tell him about everything because that’s what I’m used to doing. I would rather die than be divorced from him. I could easily write a book. Not only do I personally believe marriage is a lifelong commitment…but I would never allow myself to be put in this position again, I.e. me move on, and I’m in love with my husband so I could never be around to see him move on.


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