All those "how-to" parenting books always talk about preparing yourself for separation from your children. That is, they warn that as children reach puberty and beyond, they begin distancing themselves so that they can become independent individuals.

What these books don't prepare you for is a different kind of separation – that of husband and wife – and how to deliver such devastating news to your kids.

Was Grandma sick? Would I have a baby brother or sister?I remember when I was about twelve years old, my mother came into my room so we could have an important talk. My mind started racing. Was I adopted? Was Grandma sick? Would I have a baby brother or sister? Actually, the news was, in my self-centered mind, nothing to write home about. My mother wanted me to know that both she and my father had been married before they met each other. Oh. My mind started racing again. Do I have a step-brother or step-sister?! You see, I am an only child. Imagine my disappointment when the answer was "No." So my reaction to this supposedly earth-shattering news was to shrug my shoulders and go back to playing my 45 RPMs (those are music records, in case you're wondering).

Flash forward thirty-six years. I was mentally preparing to have my own important "talk" with my two sons. A talk that would impact all of our lives. Although I knew I'd never be fully prepared to tell them that their father and I were divorcing, I tried to do my "homework." Our rabbi was the first person to whom I turned. He is, by the way, a licensed marriage therapist.

And so I found myself in the rabbi's study. A box of tissues was close at hand. The last time I sat in the rabbi's study was in preparation for our younger son's bar mitzvah, only a year earlier. It's amazing what can transpire in the course of a year.

I couldn't help but glance over to the rabbi's desk as I poured out my heart – my life – to him. His computer monitor flashed a slideshow of his new grandchild. One photo showed a proud grandfather… another, a kvelling grandmother… mommy… daddy.

And that's when my eyes started welling up with tears. What would our family look like when our teenage sons had their own families? Would I be smiling and cooing with grandkids? I'm not exactly sure why, but the two people I get most emotional with when discussing my divorce are my mother (Okay, that one's not surprising) and my rabbi. Maybe it's because he has been an unexpected source of strength and support for me.

I consider myself a very private person, so sharing intimate details of my marriage with the rabbi took me way out of my comfort zone. (And baring my soul here in print is…well…oy vey!)

The day we broke the news to our boys was one of the worst days of my lifeWearing his "rabbi" hat, (er, kippah), he encouraged our family to find comfort in Jewish tradition and ritual. Wearing his "therapist" hat, he gave me practical advice – including the names of several highly recommended marriage counselors.

The day we broke the news to our boys was one of the worst days of my life. Although I had spoken with more than one counselor on how best to approach this daunting task, nothing prepared me for the actual thing.

I wanted to make sure that my older son would be home that night, so I sent him a text message from work. I tried to be casual about it, but he's a very perceptive kid. I asked him if he'd be around, that his dad and I wanted to talk to him and his brother. This time, his mind started racing. Did Dad get a new job?, he typed. Is someone in the family sick? Are you getting a divorce?

The day dragged on forever at work. Finally, we were all home. There was no turning back now.

We sat the boys down in the den, where it seemed eerily quiet. Even the dog seemed to sense that something important was about to occur.

We had agreed that I would be the one to break the news. I began by telling them that we had already been separated for a couple of months even though we were still living under the same roof.

I went on to state that we would be there for both of them, no matter what. That we loved them both, no matter what. That they are what matter to us, no matter what.

I could tell that the boys were totally surprised and, yes, a bit hurt that we hadn't told them sooner. We explained that we didn't want to tell them until after our older son's midterms at college.

More deafening silence.

I waited what seemed like an eternity, and then asked if they had any questions. Our older son had a few; our younger son was quiet.

I was totally surprised by my sons' reactionsI must admit that I was totally surprised by my sons' reactions. That is, I had expected my older son, who always seemed more emotionally distant, to take it all in stride. I expected my younger son, who's more likely to wear his heart on his sleeve, to take it much harder. That wasn't the case at all. My younger son, fourteen at the time, pretty much had a poker face. In retrospect, I don't think it had really sunk in yet.

My older son, who is not moved to tears readily, began to cry. My heart broke.

As I had feared, I was so "numb" to the whole situation that I didn't shed many tears myself. I was worried that my sons would think I was indifferent. But the reality was that I was beyond sad. I was teetering on the brink of depression. Fortunately, breaking the news to them lifted a weight off my shoulders and within days I began to feel more like my old self again.

After their dad and I finished with our shpiels I spoke to the boys by myself. I told them how school must continue being their priority, and how they should not use our separation as an excuse to make poor decisions.

When I spoke to my older son individually, his reaction made be both immensely proud and immensely sad. You see, he was home on winter break from his freshman year in college. He was not shedding tears for himself; he was worried about his younger brother. He told me that he wanted to be there for him. I reassured him that they could keep in touch via cell phone and emails. More importantly, I wanted to make sure he had someone to confide in, especially since he was in a distant college.

Little did I know that he, too, had someone with whom he felt comfortable discussing this difficult time in his life. You see, a few days later I got a call from our rabbi saying he understood we broke the news to our boys. I figured their dad had told him. I was wrong. Our older son had. I can't tell you how relieved I was to know that he felt close enough to our rabbi to approach him.

He said “I was strong,” referring to the fact that he didn’t cryWhen I spoke one-on-one with my younger son, he had his ever-present smile on his face. I was somewhat taken aback. He must've seen my puzzled expression and explained, "I'm proud of myself." And so I asked why. He said “I was strong,” referring to the fact that he didn’t cry. My heart broke again. “You know,” I said, “that’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s okay to cry.”

Still, he didn't appear overly fazed by our announcement. I think it's partly due to the unfortunate fact that many of his friends' parents are divorced. It's not such an anomaly. Although, of course, it's different when it's happening to your family.

It has now been seven months since that fateful evening. My heart still breaks a little every now and then. But I also know that, with time, it will become whole again.