Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Divorce—It’s Not Fair

It took most of Friday morning for Jessica to work up the courage to call Jenny Shaw, her spiritual big sister, about her parents’ divorce. She didn't know how to start, so she just blurted out, "My parents are getting a divorce." Jenny reacted in near shock. "Oh, Jessie, no. I didn't know. This has to be very diffi­cult for you." Jessica could hear the comfort in Jenny's voice and feel her concern through her touch. For the next twenty min­utes Jessica poured out the story.

"I think Dad wants either me or Karen to live with him," she said, starting to cry, "but I don't want our family split up even more. I love Dad, but I belong with Mom and Karen and Mark. I don't know what to do." "It's okay, Jessie, go ahead and cry," Jenny said. "I know it hurts a lot. I'm so sorry. I'm here. Let it all out." With Jenny's encouragement, Jessica let her­self go and sobbed. It was the first time she had cried about her parents' breakup. The burst of tears had seemingly unlocked the gates to her emotions. "Why did Dad and Mom have to do this to us?" she demanded angrily. "It's not right. It's not fair, especially to Mark." The thought of her brother suffering in silence brought another brief surge of tears. Jenny just held her and spoke reassuringly. "It hurts me that you have to go through this, Jessie, because I really care for you. But we can get through it together. I'm going to be here for you." Then she prayed the sweetest prayer that made Jessica feel that Jenny really was her older sister.

In a few minutes they were dabbing their eyes, blowing their noses and even joking a little about how they must look to anyone glancing their way. Then Jenny was serious again. "Jessie, a divorce is a lot like the death of a loved one. There are stages of grief that you go through and may experience as your parents' marriage dies.” "I guess it makes sense, but I don't even know what the stages of grief are." Jenny spent the next few minutes describing the stages of grief Jessica might encounter in the coming weeks. The explanation was enlightening and Jessica recognized that she was already "grieving" her parents' divorce in certain ways.

Then Jenny said, "Would it be okay if we meet again—maybe a few times—to talk about how to process your feelings about the divorce and get through the stages of grief?" "Sure, if you're willing," Jessica smiled. Jenny decided to meet the next two Saturday mornings for breakfast. For the first time since her parents' separa­tion three months ago, Jessica did not feel alone in her pain and sadness.

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