You expect it when you lose a loved one to their eternal caretaker—the gaping void, the wound that never really heals. The times weeks, months, and years later when you think, “Dad would have loved this.”

But there’s another kind of grief, just as vivid, just as raw. And that is losing a loved one to divorce. My heart still aches so very often. I’ll see things that remind me of my sister or make me want to call and talk to her, but I can’t. I’m so sad and angry on behalf of my brother, who was never flawless but always loving in the best way he knew how. And more than anything, my heart aches for my sweet, beautiful niece, who will never understand why her mommy went from being a fully devoted full-time Mom to working long hours and coming home exhausted, who will never understand why she’s passed like a parcel from Mommy’s house to Daddy’s, and will never understand why the love and devotion she saw between her parents when she was an infant has been replaced with bitterness, disappointment, and anger.

As with death, the pain and grief of the loss of divorce is not encapsulated in the moment the family is broken—it is faced most often and most painfully in living after the loss.

For me, it’s when I have a spare moment, see my stationery, and think, I should write my sister. Then realize she’s not mine anymore. For me, it’s the indescribable pain of making Ava’s birthday present, and the present is a bag to carry her favorite things as she moves from one parent’s to the other. It’s seeing family pictures and knowing the family will never look that way again.

But mostly, it’s looking at pictures of my playful, happy, smiling niece and trying to imagine if it’s this hard for me, how difficult and painful must it be for her?


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