Zora Neale Hurston: recent publications

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How Grieving My Parents’ Divorce (20 Years Later) Changed Me for the Better

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~Zora Neale Hurston

At the age of thirteen, my childhood as I knew it came to an end. My parents sat my brother and me down at the kitchen table and told us they were . In that moment, I could acutely feel the pain of losing the only family unit I knew.

Although my teenage self was devastated by this news, it would take another twenty years for me to realize the full extent of what I had lost. And to acknowledge that I had never fully grieved this loss.

While divorce is so common in the United States, it is not a benign experience for children or adolescents. In fact, divorce is even considered a type of adverse childhood experience, or childhood trauma, that can have long-term behavioral, health, and income consequences. Children of divorced families have an increased risk of developing psychological disorders, attaining lower levels of education, and experiencing relationship difficulties.

However, not all divorce is equal and will impact children in the same way. And if the children still feel loved, protected, and supported by the parents following the divorce, this can act as a buffer against long-term harm.

But in many cases following a divorce, parents are not in an emotional or financial state to continue meeting the children’s needs at the same level as prior to the divorce. In these circumstances, children are less likely to receive the emotional support needed to properly grieve—which is what I personally experienced.

After receiving news that my parents were planning to divorce, I did begin the grieving process. I was in denial that they would actually go through with it. Then I felt anger that they were uprooting my entire world. And then after the

Family life feelings parents divorce

Zora Neale Hurston

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