The Ghost in the Divorce

You may have heard there are similarities between divorce and the death of a loved one. Both experiences are full of strong emotions often accompanied with stages of grief.  Just like the loss of family member a person going through a divorce can experience stages of grief.   Even if you wanted the divorce.

The typical stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.  Swiss psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discovered these stages when studying terminally ill patients.   Her findings support these stages are part of our biology and help us cope with death.  Years later she discovered people can experience these stages when going through any emotional loss, like a divorce.  A spouse does not always go through every stage nor in an exact order.

There is another similarity between divorce and death.   Ghosts!  Those who believe in ghosts have a theory that a ghost is a soul that cannot cope with the sudden change from life to death.  The same phenomenon can be seen with a spouse going through an “unexpected” divorce.   A spouse is not able to accept the divorce.  They still go through similar stages of grief, but they are much more haunting.

While it may be difficult for you interact with your spouse when they are ghosting, a great divorce lawyer will be able to keep from going crazy.   A good divorce attorney is part legal professional, part therapist, and part exorcist.  It comes with the job.

A ghosting spouse may exhibit the following behavior;

  • Irrationally pleads for another chance.
  • Promises to make drastic unrealistic behavior changes.
  • Claims nothing is wrong.
  • Act like it will all blow over.
  • Cuts off all communication.
  • Blows up emotionally over the smallest issues.
  • Behaves erratically, irrationally, or unreasonably.

Are You the Ghost in Your Divorce?

Like Bruce Willis in Sixth Sense, you may not realize you are the ghost.  (Spoiler alert for those who have never seen this awesome film).  It’s okay if you are the ghost.  Perhaps the divorce papers came unexpectedly.  Maybe what you thought was a solid marriage turned out to a crumbling foundation.   Maybe you wanted the divorce but not today.  The sudden change from thinking you are  married to being served divorce papers can be difficult to accept.

Divorce, especially when unexpected, can be accompanied by the entire grieving process.  Understanding there is a process biology installed in us to copy with loss, is the first step to un-ghosting yourself.   Learn the steps and then allow yourself the freedom and opportunity to take those steps.

These are the primary stages associated with divorce grief, and a few important points to remember when going through the stage.


Have you had any of the following thoughts?

  • “Maybe this will just blow over”
  • “They’re mad right now, but they’ll come around”
  • “I can fix this”
  • “She is just going through menopause”

You may be experiencing denial of the end of your marriage.  Remember that hiding away or trying to pretend it isn’t happening won’t help.   Accept the reality that divorces don’t just go away.

The difficult truth is you may not be able to stop the divorce nor understand why your spouse wants a divorce. Remember to focus on what you can control, which is your own actions and thoughts.  You cannot force your spouse to stay married to you.  Accept the divorce is happening and that you may never fully know why.


You may feel the desire to reach out and ask how you can change or beg them to return.   Whatever issues led you to this point are not normally easy to resolve and have likely been pervasive in the relationship. And the solutions you may propose, such as drastic behavior changes, are not usually reasonable or attainable.

Bargaining with your spouse will not achieve the results you are looking for. In order to best protect your mental health and well-being, it may be better to find a counselor or therapist to talk through these feelings.


Anger is the danger stage of divorce grief.   Especially if you are experiencing strong feelings of anger toward your partner. You may hate them, feel enraged, and want to make them feel as badly as you do.  Seeking revenge is a dangerous path to take.   A wise divorce judge once told me, he or she who seeks revenge in divorce court should dig two graves.


Intense emotions like frustration, anger, and guilt can be exhausting and lead into depression. You may feel like things won’t ever get better, or you’ll never feel love again. These statements are not true!  Life and love go on, even after a divorce.   Seek friends and new relationships.  Don’t shrink or hide.  Grow and throw yourself out there.  New connections will help those divorce terrors go away.


Finally, at some point during or after the divorce, you will reach a stage of acceptance. It may take weeks, months, or years, but you will find the desire to move on with life and forge a new path. Maintain hope.  Divorce is not an ending.  The marriage ended before a divorce was filed.  Divorce is the beginning.  Divorce gives you the legal right to move on.

Whether you are being ghosted or you’ve become the spookster, remember who to call.  The divorce ghostbusters at Right Lawyers.

If you have  divorce questions, call Right Lawyers at (702) 914-0400 to speak with our divorce attorneys.