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Parents shouldn't neglect themselves during divorce

If you're going through a divorce, you've probably heard a lot of talk about "moving on" from your marriage. However, the end of a marriage is not completely unlike the death of a loved one. Something you held dear is gone. Even if it's ultimately for the best, it's natural to feel grief -- and even go through the stages of grief (starting with denial and ending with acceptance).

When you're a divorcing parent, taking the time to deal with your own grief can be particularly difficult. You're more concerned with how your children are doing. Further, your co-parent may be at a different stage in the grieving process than you are -- or seemingly not in any stage of it.

So, how can you better process the loss of your marriage and begin your new life? Most people can't -- and shouldn't -- do it alone. Reach out to family and friends who are supportive and encouraging.

It's common for people to prefer to be alone when they're sad. However, spending time with others can be healthier. It's fine to vent your sadness and frustration to those who can lend a sympathetic ear. However, sometimes, just getting out and having fun can provide a healthy distraction from your problems.

Friends and family can provide a fresh perspective if you're struggling with how to deal with your co-parent or your kids. However, in some cases, a therapist might prove more valuable and provide more objectivity.

Don't forget to take care of yourself. There's a lot of talk these days about "self-care." That doesn't have to mean a trip to an expensive day spa. It can be something as simple as taking some time for yourself while the kids are with your co-parent, visiting grandparents or at school. Just going for a run, reading a book or watching a comedy special on Netflix can clear your head.

If you're having difficulty co-parenting with your ex, it might be valuable to talk with your attorney about modifications you can make in your custody agreement. If you're still working out that agreement, it may benefit you to add more specifics to it to prevent conflict and confusion.

A more detailed agreement can also minimize the amount of communication you need to have with your co-parent. This can help you get through the early stages of your post-divorce life.

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