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LIFE BEYOND DIVORCE
'WOMEN ARE SUFFERING' -- BUT HELP IS AVAILABLE

They're a growing community of survivors, and Janet Gosch, 41, a former Bryant & Stratton teacher, is one of them.

Seven out of 10 marriages will end in divorce, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And because men remarry sooner, more of the walking wounded tend to be women.

Gosch has been reaching out to them, working with a local health maintenance organization to help change these women from victims to victors.

"That's my goal. Women are suffering," said Gosch, who not long ago presided over a Williamsville healing workshop.

Gosch was divorced eight years ago. She says her life, and the lives of her children, seemed to change in an instant.

"I was numb with pain," she said. "Only a divorced mother can understand the pain -- it's devastating. I felt I was in a cold, lonely, dark hole. I could no longer do what was best for my children. Survival was now my main task.

"I thought I'd never smile again. I feel recovery begins when you hear of someone who has experienced a similar situation and has overcome it."

Gosch, who holds a degree in English education from Buffalo State College and is listed in "Who's Who Among America's Teachers," took out a newspaper ad looking for other divorced mothers. She heard from scores of women.

"It was sad, really," she said. "One little ad generated so much interest. So many women are hurting. It was an extremely cathartic experience for me."

Rachel T. was one of the mothers who answered. Her husband had been transferred to the area. She stayed behind in Delaware to sell the house and handle the relocation with their children. By the time Rachel got to Buffalo, her husband had replaced her with a girlfriend.

"I got through it all day by day," Rachel said. "My pastor and friends at my church are very nice. I try to keep focused, stay positive, and I pray. I have hope for my children, and I try to be a good mother. It is very hard, but we'll get through it together."

There are thousands of divorces in Western New York each year. To help other divorced mothers know they are not alone, Gosch has included Rachel's struggle and that of others in a guide she has written, "Women and Their Children Who Have Survived Divorce."

Gosch's efforts have won the praise of Buffalo attorney Kevin Gluc, who says she shows divorced women it is possible "to eventually triumph over such adversity and once again lead the flourishing lives they once thought were gone forever."

Life changes can be empowering.

"If you look inside yourself, you will find it," Gosch said. "I truly thought I'd never recover. I thought I never would marry again." Her favorite saying is, "When God closes a door, he always opens a window."

That window led to a happy new life. Gosch is now remarried and feels healed. Yet she believes that divorced mothers "need much more help and understanding than I saw was available to them."

Have an idea about a local person whose life would make a good profile or a neighborhood issue worth exploring? Write to: Louise Continelli, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240, or e-mail lcontinelli@buffnews.com.

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