Grief in Recovery

affair recovery-survivors Blog-Elizabeth-Grief-in-Recovery-my hope is that we can all find a way to be more tender in our grief

For the unfaithful spouse, there will come a point in your recovery where you will begin your grief process. It will likely not happen at the same time or in the same way as your spouse, and it should not come as a surprise to us.

Grief is the vehicle in which we carry our pain. For betrayed spouses, grief begins immediately; they are bombarded and overwhelmed by the shock waves of finding out that their spouse has cheated on them. They are in horrendous pain, and the grief starts on day one.

For most unfaithful, the grief will look different because it is delayed. It is delayed, because while we are acting out in our affairs, we are not feeling genuine feelings. We are in pain avoidance and pretend mode and there are no "real" feelings in an affair. It is not until an unfaithful spouse can start to slow down, step back, and see things clearly that we begin to grieve.

Grief is a strange thing. It is not linear. It is not predictable. And as much as you want to, you can't put grief on a timetable. When in grief, we are sensitive and not quite ourselves. We sometimes find we don't even recognize ourselves. A white wash of pain seems to be heavy and the world just seems a bit too loud and close. Pain shouts when we can only handle a whisper.

You know you are in grief when people try to comfort you, but very few words can break through your pain. We grieve what we have lost. I have never found it helpful for someone to tell me in the midst of grief of why I should be thankful. Because the truth is, I am not grieving over what I have, I'm grieving what I have lost. Frankly, I don't need that reminder of all of the reasons "I should" be grateful. All we can see during the process is the loss – what we once had.

We don't want a replacement. We aren't ready for that.

Grieving is the state of wanting and missing what our life was like before the death, the divorce, the infidelity, or the loss.

I also have found it is never helpful to compare our pain. But as human beings, we are naturally drawn to comparison. This seems to go hand in hand with being expected to be in a place we are not. We start to doubt if it is okay to be where we are in the process, and we can easily start to wish we could be further along than where we are. Instead of accepting that we are only a few months out from discovery, we find a way to deny and long that we were two or three years out from discovery. Grief can be so disorienting that we typically compare in hopes that it will help us find our way.

But comparison isn't helpful. Pain is pain. We would never tell a two-year old to suck it up or get over an injury from a scraped knee. We would never tell them that they should stop crying because it was only a scrape and they should be grateful that they didn't break their leg. For that child, all they know is that it hurts. In that moment, they feel the pain of their knee and they see the blood and it is scary to them.

My hope is that we can all find a way to be more tender in our grief. When I see my husband as someone who is grieving, it calls me to a deeper compassion for him. If I can see his pain through the eyes of the grief process, I treat him with more kindness, patience, and tenderness. When I am able to accept and see myself as someone who is also grieving, the condemnation and shame start to go away.

I am not sure where you are in your grief process. One of the best books I have ever read on grief was Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff, who wrote this book after losing his son. He will put words to your pain, even though each of our situations are so different. After all, pain is pain.

Keep healing,

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Thank you Elizabeth. So much

Thank you Elizabeth. So much wisdom in what you say.

You are welcome. I am

You are welcome. I am actually not very wise but I try to surround myself with a lot of people wiser than me!

Ok this helped me a lot today

Ok this helped me a lot today. I’m at comi-con and the joy of this event (which I usually really enjoy) is being sapped out of me. I need to remember that I’m only a few months out and pain from what’s happened is real. This reminded me to have grace and patience with myself today and that the pain of betrayal can’t be predicted or completely subdued. Thank you for this.

You sound a lot like me. I

You sound a lot like me. I would much rather look at the pleasure I can find in life rather than sit in the harsh reality of the pain. I will be praying you stay patient and aware in this journey. Thanks for sharing.


After losing my daughter 1-9-16 .. Then finding out about my HIR sex addiction that has been our entire 48 years married. I know Grief... i had a hard time reading your words through the tears that do not stop for very long. Your words helped so much.. thankyou that moment of peace💜🌻

I am very sorry for all of

I am very sorry for all of your pain, yet I am glad you reached out and posted. You most definitely know grief. Not sure where your faith lies, but I trust very much that God is near to the brokenhearted. You are indeed a woman of many sorrows.

Thank you

Elizabeth, your insights are amazing. Please don't ever stop giving voice to what we all feel.

Great book!

Great article to help me deal with my suffering. I read the book on Monday....SOOOOOO helpful to understand the pain and a healthy way to deal with it. It was a good release for me and made me connect to God in a way that I hadn't before. Love your blogs!

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