GRIEF – The Birthplace of Healing, Repair and Transformation

In order to be the best parents we can be, it is essential for us to know how to support our children without our issues interfering with our ability to be present with them and their needs.  

Image courtesy of FrameAngel /

Image courtesy of FrameAngel /

One common thing I see in my work with divorce couples is each person’s propensity to blame the other.  One of the reasons we blame others is to avoid our own discomfort and pain.  It is easier to point the finger at another than do the hard work of looking within oneself.  Yet, if you want to move on in your life and be available for your children emotionally, thereby contributing to their emotional health and well-being, working on and addressing your own issues is not a luxury or choice you have, it is mandatory!

No matter the situation – divorce, death, illness, a tragedy unfolding around the world or in our own backyard – we react. Some of us want to DO something, anything, to try and fix what happened or to get rid of our own pain to escape our feelings. We seek more information, perhaps to help us make sense of the seemingly incomprehensible, hoping that if only we can understand, we will be able to move on.

When our emotional wounds are left unaddressed, they inadvertently drive the boat.  Instead of being able to step back and have a more distanced and healthy perspective, we end up being reactive and make decisions that may not be in anyone’s best interest; wasting a lot of time and energy in the process.

When it comes to the issues of divorce, it appears to me that emotional “repair”, during and after, happens in stages. I believe that grief is the birthplace of healing; healing is the foundation for repair; and together, both provide the bedrock for lasting post-divorce transformation. Grieving and mourning the loss of a love bond with your former and the changes in your family system (including the time you have with your children) can begin the restoration of your heart.

When you fail to grieve and mourn, you hold on to old hurts, pains and regrets that end up controlling your present circumstances and future possibilities. While you or your ex may have physically separated and live in “refreshed” physical environments, your emotions are likely to still be stuck in the past. To really move on,  you need to tap into the depth of your emotional experiences (mourning and grief as well as joy and celebration) to not only help you process what you have been through but also to help you let go of the past so you can live in a promise-filled present beyond lurking doom, regret and sorrow.

The irony is that to do this effectively you need to slow down and allow yourself to actually feel your pain and grief.  This is the hard part!  Rather than try to out run your pain and sorrow, you need to slow down. Hafiz, a great Sufi poet, says it best when he says: 

“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.

Let it cut more deep

Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can. . .”

When we let our loneliness, our grief, our sorrow, our pain, our anger, our rage and our fear cut more deep and ferment and season us as few human or divine ingredients can, then we have begun to tap the depth of our human experience. From that place we begin to know we are not alone in this world; other mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, lovers, friends have suffered as we do, have known tragedy and sorrow, and cry and struggle as we do.  And they, like us, have survived.

The gift of allowing yourself to tap fully into your emotional experience is that on the other shore you can begin to find clarity about how to move forward in a way that matches your needs for love, compassion, empathy, peace, harmony, generosity, care, consideration, forgiveness, as well as joy, celebration and gratitude.

The challenge is that most of us were never taught to simply be present in the moment; especially when it involves being present to all of our emotional turmoil and angst? Yet, it is exactly the act of simply being human rather than doing human – that is most called for in these times.  When we feel so uncomfortable that we want to crawl out of our skin we sit down and allow ourselves to feel the depth of our discomfort instead of doing something (anything) to not feel it.

I believe that, as parents, if we are to be effective in supporting our children to fully experience and express their feeling, we must be able to both experience and “hold” our own or another’s discomfort. As parents, it is our job to hold the container for our children’s feelings (no matter how intense) while simultaneously making sure our own actions, behaviors and choices are not driven by our emotions. Learning to do this for ourselves, we can model it for and teach it to our children. 

For those of you who are interested in working with me directly and learning specific tools to manage your grief and why it is important to understand the stages of grieving and how they impact whether your children are kept out of the emotional crossfire, please click here to learn more about my upcoming free teleclass – Parenting WITH Your Ex, Instead of Against Your Ex.


In Support and Service ~

Signature for Cat J. Zavis, Coach for divorced parents




CatProfileCat J. Zavis is an Attorney, Mediator, Child Advocate and Coach for Parents co-parenting their children after divorce. As a divorced mother of 2, she deeply understands the challenges, trauma and opportunities divorce provides. She has been practicing Nonviolent CommunicationSM, Mediation and Collaborative Law for 7 years. She conducts workshops and trainings in Nonviolent CommunicationSM for parents, lawyers, teachers, students, spiritual centers and professionals. In 2009, she was awarded a Peace Builder Award for her business. Her combination of personal experience and professional expertise give Cat a unique perspective and ability to help co parents learn to communicate effectively and powerfully to transform their relationships and interactions with their former after divorce so they and their children can thrive.

Cat can be reached at

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