Entries by Lois Finkelstein

Letting Go

Many years ago, a physician named Elisabeth Kubler Ross described a process that people go through when they’re confronted with death.  She identified denial, anger, bargaining, mourning, and acceptance as the stages of grieving.  People often found it helpful to understand grieving a major loss as a process, not an event, and to realize that […]

First Holiday After Divorce

  Anna, a former client, told me about the first holiday after her divorce, when her children were with their father.  She and her new boyfriend set off optimistically for Florida, where they expected a happy and romantic holiday. Instead, they encountered the aftermath of a severe freeze.  It had been so cold that the […]

Holiday Dreams vs Holiday Realities

Many people suffer during the holiday season.  They imagine the holiday that is advertised to us in this culture as being available (at least, to everyone else).  We imagine everyone else engaged in happy banter at tables groaning with fabulous food.  No one rolls their eyes when Uncle Burt pours his fourth glass of Scotch.  […]

Why Emotions Are Like Golden Retrievers

I have a Golden Retriever at home named Mr. Jones.  It strikes me that emotions are a lot like Golden Retrievers.  They want to be acknowledged, even welcomed.  They want to be recognized and fussed over—they want attention to be paid.  Then they tend to lie down in the corner and go to sleep.  A […]

Disillusionment of Marriage

Names of things matter.  Different names have different connotations.  “Divorce” suggests a severing, a sharp splitting or truncating of a relationship.  Some states call divorce “dissolution of marriage.”  It’s softer, giving an impression of a substance dissolving, or an entity resolving perhaps into separate elements (unless, of course, you think of “dissolute,” which creates an […]

What Do You Want?

When I was training as a psychotherapist, there was an exercise my clients sometimes chose to do.  We sat quietly across from each other, me with a pen and pad, and I asked, “What do you want?”  The client would respond. I would write down the answer. And I would ask the question again.  And […]

Acting on Your Feelings (or Not)

Aaron came into my office seeking a divorce because he found out that his wife was having an affair.  She had ended the extramarital relationship but he still had to get the divorce, because his first wife had been unfaithful as well, and he had vowed never to tolerate that kind of betrayal again. Did […]

How to Identify Your Feelings

There once was a woman—I’ll call her “Alexis”—who told me her divorce compelled her to realize that she couldn’t identify her feelings.  She knew she was feeling something, and usually it didn’t feel good, but what was it?  Somebody told her that the three primary feelings are MAD, SAD, and GLAD, and that most emotions […]

Panic and Confusion

Your divorce might be the most challenging change you ever face.  Your entire life can be altered, your primary relationships reconfigured and your financial security threatened.  You hire a lawyer to help you sort it all out and figure out how to make the best of a terrible situation, but your confusion and panic persists.  […]

The Mystery of Divorce

There are three major aspects of every divorce:  the content, the process, and another aspect I call the mystery.  The content and the process can be seen and defined, like the part of an iceberg that shows above the surface.  The mystery, on the other hand, is hidden below the surface.  It influences the divorce […]