Coping with Divorce – a Grief Observed

Lizzie Haynes Family Mediator at lhmediation

Lizzie Haynes
Family Mediator at lhmediation

This article may help family mediators and parents to recognise and manage loss and change.

This involves understanding that when you separate you are likely to experience feelings of loss, your feelings can be unpredictable and it can seem like you are on a roller-coaster- this applies to both parents and children, it’s called the ‘loss cycle’.

A Grief Observed

There are five stages Denial- Anger-Bargaining-Depression-Acceptance.

You do not necessarily go through the stages in order and it is possible to feel the whole range of emotions in the space of 10 minutes!

The reason why I am discussing this is that as you go through the separation journey, parents, couples and children will be at different stages. It is often the case that the person who has been left can feel differently to the person who has been left. You can think you are fine and then something happens and back you go again.

In a mediation session the loss cycle can be a useful tool to use and ask where they think they are in the cycle and where their children might be.

The five stages of Grief are:

    • Denial, this is the feeling of it’s not happening, hiding things from friends and family. Not dealing with reality
    • Anger, Being reactive and irrational, feeling out of control, on a short fuse
    • Bargaining, Why me? Guilt and shame. It’s my fault, if only I/she/he would…
    • Depression, What’s the point? Despair, apathy, sleeplessness energy levels at their lowest point, tears and feeling in a mental fog or constant replay
    • Acceptance, Balanced emotions, recognition of good/bad relationship, able to manage strong relationships. All of this takes time. There is no right or wrong way to feel- it’s what we do with these feelings that will allow one to change and move forward.


  • About Lizzie

    Lizzie trained as a dental hygienist and practiced for 21 years in a private practice and, for the NHS. During this time she studied for a law degree.

    Lizzie went on to train as a Barrister and was called to the Bar in 2007.

    Lizzie first trained as a mediator in 2007 as a civil and commercial mediator, going on to become the Administrator to the Civil Mediation Council and Registrar to Trust Mediation. In 2009 she trained as a community mediator with the Wandsworth Mediation Service, and still mediates on a voluntary basis today.

    After 4 years as a mediator Lizzie retrained as a family mediator with ADRg, and now works as a family mediator, independently and as part of another panel.

    She is also registered with the Ministry of Justice to conduct Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs). These meetings are to inform individuals and couples about the mediation process so that they may consider mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution.

    Trained to present the Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP), Lizzie is a member of The Family Mediators Association. She is also qualified to conduct direct child consultation.

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