The Death of Divorce: The Passing Away of Mind, Body & Soul for Men after Divorce
In general, we’re all knowledgeable of the concept of death being the termination of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. But, are we all aware of the fact that men who are divorced are almost ten times as likely to commit suicide as divorced woman? According to a study of marital status and suicide in the National Longitudinal Mortality Study back in 2000 Dr. Augustine J Kposowa (Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of California, Riverside), the actual figure was 9.94. Today with the added stressors like unemployment, health challenges, violence and various state laws directly impacting men, Men of color in particular, I’m pretty sure that figure is much, much higher today.
What about the men who don’t actually commit physical suicide but nonetheless experience a number of emotions which causes them to harden their hearts and die in mind, body and soul? Although there may not be a formalized study or a longitudinal research program around this, I personally can attest to not only thoughts of suicide and the feelings of death where the stages of grief and mourning took a huge toll and at times continue to take a toll on me as well as many other men whom I coach and counsel. During and years after my divorce, I died mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially and at times, it felt as if I was about to experience physical death. The combination of emotions, thoughts and feelings occurring simultaneously was like nothing I’d ever felt…the pain became unbearable at times…many times.
For most men, after a divorce, their biggest fear is losing the children. When a man divorces and has to rebuild himself and his life, for a while he feels that the only people who both love him and need him are his children. When that’s threatened, lessened or removed, a feeling of death ensues. For me, it happened a few years before the divorce proceedings begin during the marital separation period. Even when the visitation and custody arrangements are in place, many men like myself still experience feelings of rejection by the children’s love which causes feelings of not only being “killed off” but feeling as if the children have passed away, in a sense. Most of us truly understand that feeling loved and feeling needed are necessary to the human psyche.
From my personal experience, during and after I divorced in 2011, the feelings of being unloved, unneeded, disbelief in things changing and the inability to express all of this periodically presented thoughts of suicide in my mind. With the help of a therapist, close friends and a supportive mate, I was able to gain some healing and began to rebuild my life. For many women, this may be difficult to grasp because typically, after divorce, they end up with the children-someone to feel needed by and someone to give and receive love. People who feel loved and needed rarely commit suicide. Many men, like myself, are very vulnerable to this type of love deprivation regardless of the reasons behind divorce. Especially men like myself who grew up without a close, significant father-son relationship to draw from.
For divorced men who happen to be business owners, entrepreneurs or who are in leadership positions, the loss of instinct causes grave challenges in the business and/or job world. The male instinct is highly developed and triggered, naturally, when there’s a need by someone who loves him and when he is trusted by someone who loves him. When a divorced man loses his family, his children, his dignity and his emotional stability, his instincts to protect, provide, and produce all while continuing to take loads of increased responsibilities are literally gone. For many men, without the rewards to receive and give love feels like death. Men in business and in leadership positions don’t do well without their instincts.
Divorce for men is a form of Soul killing. To have your children taken away from how things were in the past literally kills men’s Souls causing reasons for earning a living as well as reasons to live unworthy. Divorce for some men, like myself, drives us into deadened, hardened, heartless spaces of limited existence whereas, soon enough, we’re not only labeled but penalized for being “deadbeats” but in actuality, we’re just DEAD on the inside! Because we, as men, many times feel that this form of death is forced upon us causing feelings of rejection of the Soul’s of our family as being dead. For many men, including myself, when we’re rejected by our children as a result of the divorce, we feel as if we were “killed” inside and for many men, instinctively, they have feelings to want to “kill” what has “killed”, lots of times that’s the man himself. How does a divorced man deal with the mourning of the deaths of his children, as he once knew, although they are not physically dead? When the children of a divorced dad seem dead to him, but still very much alive, how does he begin the mourning, grieving process? Who helps him heal the pain? Who supports his wellness journey? Many men like myself feel all of this from time to time during and after divorce. I personally feel the pain of men and dads who are unhealed with pain and hurt from the bottoms of their hearts and the bitterness infused within all of this, especially when they are denied their children.
What can we do to support men who feel like divorce is a death sentence? We must develop a nationwide 24 hour on-call counseling network specifically for divorced men and fathers only. The network of therapists, coaches and counselors must specialize in male issues after and during divorce. We must set up conferences specifically addressing male divorce issues who meet at least twice a year within all the country’s major regions. We must set up task forces and commissions to tackle some of the legislation and laws surrounding issues of divorce specifically when children are involved. We must compile a list of the top 50-100 books written by men for men on issues of divorce and get them in the hands of divorced men and fathers. We must utilize gathered time as we do for sports and other recreational activities for healed divorced men to support divorced men as sponsors. We must utilize healed divorced men and the children of divorced men to serve as group sources of inspiration, motivation, education and ongoing support. For many men, like myself, The Death of Divorce is like the death on one’s mind, body and soul. Together we can not only heal but continue to thrive and tackle the statistics of the rates of suicide among divorced men and men who are going through divorces. Today, many men support groups and support systems support men in being Invulnerable. Lots of times, invulnerability leads many men to suicide. We must all do better.
Curt Jasper is a recovering divorced dad who counsels and coaches men and women who have experienced recent breakdowns due to divorce, death, depression and desperation. He not only uses his research, expertise, personal experiences, humor and tough love approach to serving his clients, but he also uses his own intuition, spiritual guidance, rituals, community service, mentoring and support partners to remain healed as he continues to serve one of the most overlooked segments in our society today. #DivorcedDadsLivesMatter