When the Divorce is Finalized: Pity Party or Celebrate?



By Jackie Pilossoph, Divorced Girl Smiling Editor-in-Chief

I got an email yesterday from one of my readers whose divorce will be finalized very soon. She asked, “What did you do on the day your divorce was final?”

Here’s the answer:

I can tell you what I did, and that might be useful information, but it might not be what you feel like doing. Every person has a different reaction, and wants to “celebrate” or not celebrate the day, or both.

The day I got divorced (officially), it was my ex’s night with the kids. My dear, dear friend, whose divorce was set to be finalized about 2 weeks later called me and said, “We’re going out.”

We met for a drink and we sat there and it was kind of quiet. I wasn’t having a drink to say “cheers!” and I wasn’t having a drink to drown my sorrows because I was so depressed.

My friend described us having a drink as “Marking the occasion. Just having a drink to mark it. That’s it. Not good or bad, not happy or sad, just because it was a significant day.

If you think about it, it’s no big surprise. Your divorce has been in the works for months, years perhaps. So, it’s not unexpected, yet when you realize you are officially divorced, it’s kind of hard to believe.

I’d say the feelings are first and foremost, relief. You are finished worrying about judge’s decisions and rulings and petitions and what the outcome is going to be. You now know. You know what your child support is going to be, you know what assets you’re left with, you know your kids’ custody schedule is in writing. You know.  And knowing is very comforting. And the biggie, no more paying the attorney!! Not that’s a reason to make a toast and say “cheers!!”

Other feelings are both sadness and happiness. It’s the end of one life, the beginning of a new life.  So, the feelings are very mixed. There aren’t too many other instances in life that carry both of those feelings at the same time. In fact, I can’t think of one.

I just read a blog where the author surveyed a bunch of women who were getting divorced, and most of them said that even though their marriages were terrible, they still missed that life a little bit. I, personally find that hard to understand, but it does make sense. You can miss anything, whether it’s bad or good, just because you lived with it for so long.

As far as the happiness, PLEASE don’t feel guilty if you feel happy! Don’t you deserve some happiness after all the pain you’ve endured, both at the end of the marriage (maybe even for years) and then through the divorce? Feeling happy is okay. It’s healthy, actually. I remember feeling like I had no clue where life was going to take me, and it was a little bit scary, but it was a good feeling, too. The unknown can be exciting if you have the guts to look at it that way.

As far as the actual divorce, I can’t resist talking about the fact that what I remember very clearly about that day, is that my ex, myself and our attorneys were standing in front of the judge and she was reviewing our agreements. When she was getting ready to wrap things up, she asked me a question. “Do you agree with this settlement? If you do, please answer, ‘I do.’” With my jaw on the ground, I somehow managed to give her that answer.

Sometimes I look back and I wonder if I dreamed that. Seriously? The last thing you say when you get divorced is “I do?”

Other things that happened on my divorce day: In the morning, before I went downtown, the girl my ex was dating at the time actually asked me (with more enthusiasm than Tony Robbins and a smile plastered on her face) if I wanted her to babysit my kids since it was “such a big day!!!!!!” That sort of set me over the edge.

There were no tears during my divorce, I think because I was still so pissed at the girl, and that was the emotion of the day for me!

I did one more important thing to mark my divorce: I bought myself a really nice gift.

I had had my eye on a diamond necklace at my friend, Claudia’s jewelry store for years.  I took some of my gold (pieces I knew I’d never wear again) and traded it in for the necklace (although I did still have to pay a little bit of money.)

In my opinion, getting divorced is a gift-giving holiday. Not gifts from others, (although I did get a couple of those and cracked up) but to buy a gift for yourself is very warranted. And to this day, every time I wear the necklace, I think back to why I bought it.

Getting divorced is one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life. Endless tears, fears, worries, tension, bitterness, loss, grief, gut-wrenching sadness and anger are all feelings one faces for months, perhaps years after a split. But having gone through it (and I’d wish it on no one!) I’m stronger, smarter and I appreciate things more than I used to, although that might be part of getting older, as well. So, what’s wrong with a material possession to provide a little bit of happiness and offset the sting just a little bit?

When divorce becomes final, I think there’s one thing everyone feels. You once stood in front of a priest or a rabbi or a judge with this person, and you promised to love, honor and cherish him or her forever. And now, you’ve broken that promise (whether it was your choice or not).  And that’s sad. But if the marriage was wrong, then isn’t it wonderful that you now get the opportunity to find a better life for yourself? Freedom is a beautiful thing. And that’s certainly something to celebrate.


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11 Responses to “When the Divorce is Finalized: Pity Party or Celebrate?”

  1. Cathy

    My divorce was final 48hrs ago. I thought I’d be happy that day and relieved. I sobbed leaving the court room and didn’t stop until the next day. I didn’t see anything worth celebrating. We had children and I know they aren’t celebrating. However today, I bought myself a pandora ring and it makes me feel strong when I look at it and realize I went through hell and I’m still here.

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      I completely understand your reaction. YOu will be OK now. It’s good that you let yourself grieve. Great job on the pandora ring, by the way!! xoxo

  2. Michele

    I’m sitting here on the eve of my divorce feeling a mixture of pain, sadness,disbelief that it is realy over, but also a sense of relief. I feel sad for my kids, for myself and even my soon to be ex husband. I hope I’m making the right decision.

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      My dad always said that once you make a decision, stick to it and don’t doubt yourself. Best wishes. YOu are going to be fine!

  3. John

    Strong feelings here that I went forward with heart-first but faced with a healthy dose of reality and relief as well after an 806 day Immigration odyssey/ fail resulting in Divorce.

  4. anna

    hiya my divorce was finalised two weeks ago. I was in a physical and emotionally abusive marriage. I left when i found out he had been cheating on me for a year. Some how this gave me the push i needed. I went out and celebrated but 1 week later i hit rock bottom. I found myself in a very vulnerable place. I kept saying to myself how amazing my life is now and why i left. I never expected to feel like this but im taking one day as it comes.

  5. Melissa

    My divorce was finalized a few hours ago. I feel kind of numb. Thought I might be sad…then thought I might feel happy. But neither emotion kicked in. I guess it has been such a long road apart now that it doesn’t change much for me at this point. I do feel a little scared though (even though I have been fully taking care of myself and my kids for years).

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      Don’t you also feel kind of a sense of relief? Like this limbo you’ve been in for so long is over. No more attorney’s bills, no more not knowing the future. It’s not hanging over your head unfinished. That’s got to be a good feeling, right?

  6. Elie

    I was unhappy for years and it has taken almost 3 years to be finalized which happened about 2 hours ago. I’m feeling such sadness. I feel the loss of belonging to a family for both myself and my children that can’t be recreated. I have created a new life for us but that is gone. I don’t want to be with him but I miss that and I feel responsible for making a poor choice and then taking it all away from my kids.

    • Jackie Pilossoph

      the most unhealthy emotion we can feel is guilt. We all make poor choices and the only way to be happy is to move on and focus on making better choices in the future. I am so sorry you are sad. It’s normal and things will get better. But stop looking back and start moving ahead. Things are going to turn out surprisingly well!!


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