Facing divorce during the pandemic: ‘This is a lot of people’s story in 2020'

Jacquie Cosgrove
·4 mins read

Along with over 215,000 deaths in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic has left a devastating trail of collateral damage in its path. Thousands of businesses closed permanently, the unemployment rate reached the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, and plenty of relationships have taken a hit, too.

Author and motivational speaker Rachel Hollis is facing her own divorce, and she’s not alone. Data collected by LegalTemplates found that by April 13 —15 to 20 days after most states began official quarantine — interest in separations increased by 57 percent from February.

“I think that this is a lot of people's story in 2020. The reality is breakups and divorce are on the rise,” Hollis shares, “We slowed down, and you didn't have those distractions, and you didn't have the things that were keeping you from looking at the parts that weren't working … and that certainly was the case for us.”

Hollis, best known for her 2018 book, Girl, Wash Your Face, tells Yahoo Life that when the pandemic hit, her life took a major turn. “When we went into quarantine here in Texas, in March, I was editing a book that I had already written, and while I was in the edit process, my marriage ended,” she explains. “I just started thinking about, if I was going to bring out a book in 2020, I really wanted to make sure that I was talking about what 2020 felt like for us.”

In her latest book, Didn’t See That Coming, Hollis shares how it felt to be facing divorce in the middle of a global pandemic, and offers words of wisdom to others dealing with grief and loss.

“This is my version of hardship, and I feel like all over the world, people have their version of this. People have lost jobs, they've lost businesses, they've lost people that they love, maybe they're going through a breakup. Either because of COVID, we've experienced pain this year, or just because life is sometimes painful,” Hollis says. “So, I want to keep showing up even when it's hard, and I want to speak truthfully about what it feels like.”

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My newest book comes out today— and it feels, honestly, super uncomfortable to talk about it. I filled up an entire book with all the hardest things because I wanted to teach about how to navigate a crisis or the loss of someone you love or the absence of a life you once knew. Now I find myself in the midst of a week of press talking endlessly about all the hard things and it feels impossible. Last night one of my best friends asked how she could support me this week and I told her, “I just want to survive. I just want to make it through Friday.” When I showed up at work this morning my friends were there terrifying me with poppers (please see my stories) and coffee and balloons and reminding me that the goal is never to just survive. It reminds me —again— that we can hold both pain and joy simultaneously. It reminds me of why I felt called to write this book in the first place: I wanted to encourage you. I wanted to remind you that some days are just about surviving, but most days should be about how we can thrive even when it’s hard. This book isn’t for everyone because not everyone has gone through something difficult— but for those of us who have, for those of us who were forced into a club we never asked to join, this book is for you. Sometimes you need your friends to show up with coffee and confetti to remind you that there’s goodness all around if we’re willing to hold it alongside our pain. If you’re in a tough season, or still carrying around hurt from something in the past, I wrote this one for you. 🤟🏻 #didntseethatcomingbook

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Hollis, who is known for her openness about her experiences with loss and grief, offers readers advice as they face the struggles unique to them. “I think that something that's really detrimental that people do right now is that they compare their hardship and they minimize the pain that they feel,” she explains. “They’ll say, ‘I lost my job, but they lost their home, so I shouldn't feel bad.’ ... I think that you can have empathy for others and the hardship that they're walking through and you can also allow yourself to be sad.”

Author Rachel Hollis attends the Build Series in 2019 (Photo: Getty Images)
Author Rachel Hollis attends the Build Series in 2019 (Photo: Getty Images)

Whatever your hardship looks like, Hollis hopes to inspire individuals to push ahead in the face of crisis.

“I hear so many people right now talking about ‘I can't wait until 2021,’ as if we're going to, like, snap our fingers on Dec. 31 and all of our problems are going to go away. They're going to be here,” she says. “So it's important that we take ownership of the experience right now that we're not waiting for ‘some day’ ... that we are taking control of the only thing we have ever been in control of, which is ourselves.”

“We see these movies with superheroes and warriors with swords, and they're fighting, and we have… our idea that that's what bravery looks like,” Hollis tells Yahoo Life. “And I think that bravery looks, for so many people, like just standing back up.”

Rachel Hollis’ new book, Didn’t See That Coming, is available for purchase on Amazon.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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