The 5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Meaningful Relationship

 / 

, , ,
Relationship Grief

The end of a relationship is always hard, whether it lasted for a few weeks or a few decades. You feel an unbearable pain that keeps you trapped in the past. You keep wondering if things could go back to how it was but you realize it won’t. You want this pain to end. But it just doesn’t. There are 5 different stages of grief at the end of a relationship and you need to go through them all, in order to move on and find happiness once again.

Psychologist Dr. Kübler-Ross wasn’t a relationship expert. She specialized in counseling those associated with grief from death.

While analyzing terminally ill patients, she observed the ways they would come to terms with their imminent demise and developed a theory that there are five steps necessary to properly grieve. Since then, many have drawn parallels between her theories as they pertain to processing the end of a meaningful relationship.

The key is to dedicate yourself to embracing your feelings as you go through this process. The more you open up and make yourself vulnerable, the faster you will be able to move on.

The most critical thing to realize is that oftentimes there isn’t something you can do to “fix” these feelings. The point is to let them happen simply and be aware of what they are. So, let’s break them down.

The 5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Meaningful Relationship
Stages of Grief

5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Relationship

Stage 1. Denial

The first thought of entering the human psyche after any traumatic event in their life—“How could this happen to me?”

Humans are not strictly rational beings and when your world is shocked, emotions take over. The heart overpowers the logical thought of the mind. Even though your brain is cognizant that the relationship is over, the heart can’t quite let go and will start to create a false sense of reality.

This is when you entertain fantasies of being able to work things out. You still feel that there’s hope. These delusions can lead you to do stupid things in an attempt to reconnect with your ex.

It’s critical to cut off communication so you’re not tempted by that late-night text. It’s not going to help. You’ll be tempted to hop on Instagram just to catch a glimpse of her smile, but what good will that do you?

Unfollow her on Facebook, remove her number from your phone for a while. Delete that playlist you guys shared together. You should also redecorate your pad and remove key triggers that remind you of her.

After my divorce, I moved to a new house altogether. I decked it out in my style and removed anything provoking bad memories. That had a massive impact on the overall vibe of my homestead. It now has a fresh, palpable new energy that has facilitated my healing and personal growth.

I’m not saying that you need to banish her from your life forever. But in the healing process as you grieve the relationship, stay distant and remove triggers that remind you of her. Going cold turkey for a while is the only way to accelerate progress through this critical phase.

Related: The Five Stages Of Grief: Exploring The Kübler-Ross Model

Stage 2. Anger

As denial fades away, emotional pain emerges and often manifesting itself in the form of anger. This will be channeled in a number of different directions.

You’ll certainly be angry with her, blaming whatever you can on why the relationship didn’t work out. You might feel angry at the world for not being fair. Maybe you feel like lashing out at her friends for corrupting her perception of you. You’ll be tempted to express this through hateful emails and text messages.

It’s okay to write those out to get all of your emotions out of your head and onto paper. But, for the love of God, don’t click send. Nothing good will come from it.

It’s natural and unavoidable to feel this way. Where you separate the mice from the men is how you effectively channel that anger in a productive way. You have to avoid bottling it up and unleashing your rage at an inopportune time.

Instead, take it out at the gym. Go for a run. Crush the boxing bag for a couple of rounds. Find ways to get it out of your system that won’t get you an overnight stay in the county jail.

Stage 3. Bargaining

Studies have shown that rejection from a romantic partner activates similar parts of the brain that are associated with addiction. There’s a scientific component that comes into play here. Studies have shown that rejection from a romantic partner activates similar parts of the brain that are associated with addiction.

Not unlike a drug addict, you physically become addicted to love. That warm, lovey feeling is triggered by a release of dopamine. Once your brain no longer receives that stimulation, you go into a type of withdrawal, which makes you feel like crap.

You begin to hypothesize different ways that you might have been able to make it work. You are willing to do anything to avoid accepting it’s over.

Maybe if you had gone to therapy a few more times together. What if her family was able to talk some sense into her? Dozens of thoughts on what you could have done differently to salvage this relationship creep into your head.

Your heart is making a last-ditch effort to avoid suffering at all costs. This reinforces why it’s best to cut off all communication. What good does it do you to text or call her at this point? If you don’t hear back for a day, won’t that drive you crazy? You have to start thinking about yourself now.

There’s very little benefit to come from staying in touch with her for the time being. Thoughts will drive through your mind as to what she’s doing and why she’s not getting back to you. Don’t reach out. Focus on yourself for now.

Related: The Stages Of Grief: Ways To Cope With Loss and Minimize The Pain

Stage 4. Depression

The night is darkest just before dawn. As your heart gives up at the conclusion of the bargaining phase, depression kicks in.

You feel sorry for yourself. Getting out of bed becomes an arduous task. Everything becomes a disconnected, hopeless blur. You wonder if you’ll ever find someone to love again. Say to yourself, “It’s okay, sadness. I see you. I love you. I respect and honor you. I will let you be. But you are not what defines me.”

The most critical thing to do during this phase is to acknowledge the feelings, but realize that they don’t make you.

Reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues that you haven’t spent much time with. It’s easy to lose sight of majorly awesome and important people in your life when you’re wrapped up and whipped down by a broad.

Just as important as it is to bring the right people into the mix, it’s equally crucial to keep toxic influences out of your personal ecosystem. If you have a buddy that suggests getting out there and partying your ass off to hammer through the depression, resist that temptation.

Alcohol and drugs will only exacerbate the issue. Focus on strengthening your body through exercise and whole foods. Feeling better physically will have an impact on your mental fortitude as well.

Seek out a therapist. For some bros, this is a big leap of faith, but it can jumpstart your progress in a major way. I recommend a psychologist as opposed to a psychiatrist. I can’t cosign the route of prescription drugs to defeat depression.

Tackle it naturally. You’re a strong dude and can take this on without a trip to the pharmacy. Your body and mind will thank you in the end.

Start documenting your thoughts in a journal. It’s therapeutic to release your feelings from your mind onto paper. Understanding and accepting what you are feeling is the first step to being able to overcome negative emotions.

The most important thing to realize is that you’re not alone. You have amazing friends and family to help. This also won’t last forever. As long as you take the right steps, this pain is temporary.

The 5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Meaningful Relationship
Stages of grief

Stage 5. Acceptance

Eventually, your heart, mind, and soul will accept that this phase of your life is over and it’s time to move on. This is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It’s an incredibly liberating and inspiring feeling.

Make peace with the loss of your significant other. Accept that your relationship is no more. Accept that you have a clean slate to start fresh. Accept the fact that there’s a bright future for you ahead.

You will eventually be ready to forgive your ex, and potentially even thank her. The time you had together was not a waste. It helped define part of who you are. Be grateful for the time you had—not resentful.

Related: Behind The Veil Of Grief

Once you’ve reached self-love and inner peace, you will naturally put out natural, awesome energy that will attract someone much more connected to your heart, soul, and emotions.


Written by Matt Shumate
Originally appeared in The Goodmen Project
The 5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Meaningful Relationship
The 5 Stages of Grief at The End of A Relationship
Relationship Grief PIN

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

Is Someone Watching You? Understanding Stalking Behavior

Breaking Down Stalking Behavior What You Need to Know

You have this constant feeling that you simply can’t shake. Your anxiety levels have shot up and you’re always on the edge. You feel like you’re being watched…all the time. Every step you take, every move you make, someone is watching you. You have a stalker and they are stalking you even when you’re at home.

Trigger warning: If you have been stalked before, then this content may appear triggering. Please use your discretion before reading the following content.

Is someone following you?

You walk down the street. It’s late. There are a handful of busy people walking by who pay no attention to you. The yellow streetlights make you feel relaxed and comfortable as you slowly walk towards your home. And then it


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Diving Deep Into Your Subconscious: What Does It Mean To Have Dreams About Your Ex And What To Do About It

What Does It Mean To Have Dreams About Your Ex Deep Reasons

What does it mean to have dreams about your ex repetitively? Is your subconscious trying to tell you something? Let's know in detail!

"Why am I dreaming about my ex?" "Why do I keep dreaming about my ex?"Are you tired of asking yourself these questions time and again?

Dreaming about an ex-partner is not an uncommon thing. Such dreams often carry mixed emotions, leaving you confused and wondering what they mean. Dreams about your ex can be disturbing, especially if the relationship ended poorly.

What does it mean to have dreams about your ex? Repetitive dreams can also be a sign of unresolved emotions or unfinished business with your ex. In this article, we explore the topic: what does it mean to have dreams about your ex?


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Revealing the Mask: Top 7 Indicators of Unhealthy Jealousy

Signs of Unhealthy Jealousy

Have you ever fumed with anger while watching your loved ones being close to another person? Do you feel the rage inside when you see your partner giving attention to someone else? This feeling is known as jealousy. It is an emotional state of envy, Insecurity, and fear, that is triggered by a perceived threat to a valued relationship.

It is normal to feel the urge to protect people you love. However, if this protectiveness becomes a barrier between you and your partner, it could signify unhealthy jealousy. However, how does healthy jealousy differ from its unhealthy counterpart?

Let’s find out what makes healthy jealousy different from unhealthy jealousy

Healthy Jealousy vs. Unhealthy Jealousy


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

5 Things To Do When Your Ex Reaches Out To You

Things When Ex Reaches Out To You

When your ex reaches out to you out of the blue, it may be a confusing and unpleasant experience. Here are some of the things you can do to deal with them.

I know that it can feel really good when your ex reaches out. I mean, they left you behind and here they are, wanting to be in contact again.

But, I can tell you that, when your ex reaches out, there are so many opportunities for things to go bad, even if it feels great at first.

Perhaps they beg for you back, only to leave you. Perhaps you have sex with them, only to have them disappear again. Perhaps they make you promises that they don’t keep, just like last time.

And you are left, right back where you started: broken hearted!


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

21 Ways To Find Joy In The Little Things (Even After Heartbreak)

Ways Find Joy Little Things

The best-kept secret of being happy in life is by finding joy in the little things, especially if you are going through heartbreak. Taking joy in the little things won't just contribute to your happiness, it will also help you heal.

I remember when I was in the throes of severe heartache after my marriage imploded, I couldn’t find joy anywhere. I would see someone doing something simple such as reading a novel, which is something I had always enjoyed, and would think I would never enjoy it again.

The pain was immense, and I couldn’t find an ounce of sunshine.

Slowly, I realized I had to find small ways to feel good each day. Otherwise, I was going to continue to spiral further into the darkness.

Ironically, picking up a novel was


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Being Friends With Ex: 8 Rules That Won’t Complicate Things

Being Friends With Ex

Relationships don't always work out, and you might fall out of love with your partner, or you might just drift apart with time. If you part ways amicably, then there's no harm in staying friends with each other. However, if you choose to stay friends with ex, it's important to know a few rules about setting boundaries with them, so that things don't get confusing and complicated later.

Trying to be friends with an ex can be a slippery slope to navigate through, but it's surely not impossible. As long as you know how to set boundaries with your ex, you can continue to have a healthy rapport with them. Now the million-dollar question is how to set boundaries with an ex, and how to stay friends after a breakup. Let's find that out!

Related:


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

5 Reasons Why Bad-Mouthing Your Ex Will Just Make Things Worse

Reasons Bad Mouthing Ex Will Just Make Things Worse

Bad-mouthing your ex won't help you in any way, it only keeps you clinging to the memories of the past. Here's why you shouldn't talk behind their backs and waste your energy.

After a break up, not bad-mouthing your ex can be next to impossible.

Whether you left or were left, the end of the relationship can lead to anger, bitterness and resentment.

And, try as we might, keeping those feelings to ourselves can be difficult, sometimes even impossible.

I am here to tell you, from personal experience and the experience of my clients, that bad-mouthing your ex will only make things worse,


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲