It hurts… so, so much.
You feel as though your heart is breaking and getting through the day is torture.
The relationship you had, was so long… yet the future doesn’t have an ‘us’ in it because a long term relationship has ended.
It’s almost like losing a loved one even though that person is still alive, yet it hurts all the same… maybe even more.
You feel like punching those who tell you to move on or to just ‘get over it’ because they have no idea how agonizing it is losing someone who is very much a part of your daily reality.
And it affects your environment too because every place you go to seem to remind you of the love you shared.
You even start to wonder if you would ever recover from all this.
Thankfully, there are ways to recover after breaking up from a long term relationship.
It’s not going to be easy but it is possible once you are aware.
The 5 Stages Of Grief
Everyone goes through the 5 stages of grief whether they have lost parent to cancer, their dog died, they no longer have something dear to them or any breakup situation.
It is a normal human response to coping with the loss and it can be really therapeutic to know which stage you are at to help you cope better.
The 5 stages are denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.
When you have broken up from a long term relationship, you might spend a different amount of time in each stage depending on how the relationship ended.
What is important is to remember that as long as you’re living and breathing, there is hope. And as long as hope exist, life do get better.
And sometimes, you might skip a step or two or jump back because the nature of loss is inherently complex and brings up many issues, but you will eventually progress through all the stages.
Let’s take a closer look at each stage:
Stage 1 – Denial
You and your significant other were inseparable.
Suddenly that reality is gone, and the shock kicks in.
The numbness desensitizes the hurt feelings only barely enough for you to cope with the drastic change.
Going through a stage of denial can also distort your reality.
“He/she will come around… it’s not the end.”
“This can never happen to me. It can’t be real…”
“He/she still loves me. Give it time.”
Nature has a phenomenal way to help process the initial stage of grief.
But as you’re able to accept reality for the situation, you will unknowingly begin the healing process.
You will strengthen your mind and your heart as soon as the denial stage fades away and it will prepare you well for the next stage.
Stage 2 – Anger
“How can he/she do this to me?!”
“How could I let myself be taken advantage of just like that? Curse him/her!”
“There’s a special place in hell for that betrayal…”
“God hates me – that’s why I’m going through all of this!”
It is perfectly normal to go through the stage of anger.
Some people may try and deny the anger stage and suppress it.
Suppressing it only makes things worse.
But when you start letting your anger in, you are acknowledging the part of you that needs justice.
When you let it sink in, then the real healing begins and you can manage yourself better.
Take comfort to know that the greater your anger, the more you knew what love was.
If you didn’t really love someone in the first place, you wouldn’t have anger – you would be indifferent.
Anger is the expression of the intensity of the love you once shared and you can let it sink in as you move to the next stage.
Stage 3 – Bargaining
You might fumble for your phone as you text your ex regarding what you once shared.
Even a casual ‘hi’ or ‘hey’ is intended to be a chance… hope that you might get back together.
Any variation of this emotion is the domain of bargaining.
At this point, you will do anything to get back (or feel like getting back) together.
Bargaining may come in different forms.
Instead of bargaining with your ex, you might bargain with a higher power.
“Please, God… if we can get back together, I promise, promise, promise that I will treat him/her better”
You land in a loop of ‘what if’s’ or ‘if only’ or ‘there might be a chance…’
“If I started losing weight, he/she might accept me again…”
You start to wonder if you could’ve done things better or differently.
After flipping and flopping between multiple scenarios and outcomes in your head, you will start to wonder if you are going crazy or be racked with guilt over how you could have handled things better.
Negotiations and bargaining is a perfectly normal human response once you pass the stage of anger.
Let all the scenarios play out in your head and accept the healing process.
You’re going to need all the strength before you get to the next crucial stage.
Stage 4 – Depression
The full weight of grief sets in now.
“Goodbye, my love…”
It’s probably heavier than you can ever imagine.
You’ll start to withdraw and disconnect because the full force of depression incapacitates your feeling as though you feel like you’re going to die.
Reality sets in as you realize that there’s no way you can ever be together again.
Even as the dark clouds hover over your head, once again, remember that the greatest healing you can ever have is to accept that feeling depressed and withdrawn is perfectly normal and you have finally reached the point of neutralizing the pain over the last 4 stages.
The pain may be excruciating but know that the only way is through.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and a silver lining behind the dark cloud.
Once you have punched through, you will be rewarded and stronger than ever.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
Things are much, much better once you reach this stage.
It’s not that you will ever forget.
Neither will all the pain go away.
But at long last, you will finally accept reality for what it is.
You can’t change what has happened but at least you have the clarity to change how you feel about it now and create a new reality.
Perhaps you will meet someone new.
Perhaps you will enjoy life as a single person.
Perhaps you will even look back at the entire experience with gratitude on how it has made you a stronger person.
Once you start taking charge of yourself, your life becomes yours again.
You will look away from what you don’t have to what you do have and start attracting better, more positive people into your life.
You can start to enjoy life again and grow and evolve in more meaningful ways.
Time heals all wounds, but recognizing the 5 stages of grief will help you through the most difficult times and arrive at the acceptance stage faster.