Like mourning the death of someone close to you, when a relationship comes to an end, experiencing grief and anger are universal, and normal.
Cycles of feeling emotionally raw, angry at your ex, remembering the beautiful moments that you shared, and rethinking what you could’ve done better come in waves. Some days, you feel like you’ve been set free and moving forward seems like a blessing, and on other days, you feel like you’ve been robbed of your one true love. In our bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through each stage of mourning with different levels of intensity and in no specific order.
Through loss, you are more likely to be inspired to evaluate your own feelings and who you are as an individual. It is through experiencing the different stages of mourning that we achieve a more peaceful acceptance of the end of a relationship that meant a lot to us.
Everyone deals with breakups differently, but here are the most common five stages of mourning a relationship:
Denial and Isolation
“It’s over?! But…but….no, we’ll just talk it out and work on it.” Sound familiar? The first reaction to the end of a relationship is usually to deny the reality of the situation, which is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions – it’s a defense mechanism that helps us cope with the first wave of pain.
“He doesn’t know what he’s missing.” “It was her fault..she was a b$tch anyways.” As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and the pain emerges. We are not ready. The intense emotions are deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. It’s a complicated cycle: rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us even more angry.’
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control and the common thought “If only I had tried harder…” usually comes to mind.
Feeling depressed may come in a subtle sense, but you feel like nothing really matters at the moment – you’re in a funk. Sometimes all we really need is a big hug.
The end of a relationship may come suddenly and unexpected. Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and individual experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through but yourself. With the help of time, healing with occur and your heart will mend. When you do reach this stage, you will usually feel withdrawal and a sense of calm, nervous about getting back into the dating game; but your confidence will slowly grow.