Educational Resources

Coping with Separation Emotionally: Stages, Supporting Children, and Seeking Help in Ontario

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

Separation is not just a legal process; it’s an emotional journey. In 2024, individuals in Ontario navigating the end of a relationship must understand the emotional stages they might experience, the best ways to support their children through this transition, and where to find help. This article provides insights into managing the emotional aspects of separation, emphasizing the well-being of everyone involved.

Understanding the Emotional Stages of Separation

  1. Shock and Denial: Initially, you might feel numb or in disbelief. It’s a natural defense mechanism to help you absorb the news of your changing circumstances.
  2. Pain and Uncertainty: As the shock wears off, it’s replaced by profound sadness and distress. You might feel uncertain about your future and anxious about the changes ahead.
  3. Anger and Bargaining: It’s common to feel anger towards your ex-partner and even yourself. You might find yourself thinking about what could have been done differently to prevent the separation.
  4. Depression and Reflection: At this stage, the magnitude of your loss becomes more apparent, which can lead to feelings of despair. It’s also a time for reflection, which can be an essential step in the healing process.
  5. Acceptance and Hope: Eventually, you come to accept the reality of your situation. This acceptance paves the way for hope and planning for a positive future.

Supporting Children Through Separation

  1. Open Communication: Keep an open line of communication with your children. They need to understand what’s happening in an age-appropriate way. Assure them that both parents still love them and that the separation is not their fault.
  2. Maintain Routines: As much as possible, keep children’s daily and weekly routines consistent. Stability in their schedule can provide a sense of normalcy.
  3. Watch for Signs of Distress: Be alert to changes in behavior, mood, or academic performance. These could indicate they’re struggling to cope with the separation.
  4. Professional Support: Consider seeking support from a child psychologist or counselor trained in helping children navigate parental separation.

Seeking Help and Support in Ontario

  1. Counseling Services: Individual or group counseling can provide a space to express and understand your emotions. Look for therapists specializing in divorce and family issues.
  2. Support Groups: Joining a support group allows you to connect with others going through similar experiences. Sharing your feelings with peers can provide comfort and insights.
  3. Legal and Financial Advice: Stress from legal and financial uncertainties can exacerbate emotional difficulties. Obtaining clear legal and financial advice early on can alleviate some of this stress.
  4. Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote well-being. Exercise, hobbies, and spending time with supportive friends and family can improve your mood and outlook.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Recognize the Journey: Understand that healing is a process, and it’s okay to feel a range of emotions. Be patient with yourself as you navigate these changes.

Prioritize Your Well-being: Your emotional health is crucial. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself; it’s necessary for your well-being and that of your children.

Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re struggling to cope. Early intervention can prevent more severe issues later on.


Separation is a challenging life event, and it’s essential to address the emotional impact alongside the legal aspects. By understanding the stages of grief, supporting your children effectively, and knowing where to find help in Ontario, you can navigate this difficult time with resilience and hope. Remember, it’s a journey, and with the right support and resources, a new beginning is possible.

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.