Stages of Grief After a Lost Relationship

The stages of grief can be related to any loss in your life.  It can be a loss due to death of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a pet or the loss of a relationship due to circumstance.  When we lose relationships we often go through a grieving process.  I’ve changed a number of relationships in the past year of my life. Most of them I tossed away because I had endured enough of the drama and the relationship was no longer fruitful.  A few relationships I valued enough to let go of and keep moving.  It takes courage to end valued relationships and there is a grieving process involved even when you know it’s the right decision.

I’m proud to say I have reached acceptance in my grieving process. It was an enlightening road that provided me with valuable life insights.  Don’t fight the emotion that you feel when grieving a relationship.  It’s part of the learning for your journey. The stages of grief are:  Denial, Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  I am careful not to list these in any certain order because the grieving process is not a self-controlled plan. You don’t go step by step.  These are all the things that you may experience when going through a “break up”.  You may not experience all of these and it may be in a completely different order than listed.  In any case, embrace what you feel.

I can vividly recall the “denial” I felt at the loss of my relationship.  Looking back I now see that the relationship had been deteriorating for nearly a year but I was in complete oblivion.  When I realized it was finally over, I was in complete denial. In conversation, I still referred to the person in the same way despite our lack of communication and clear rift. I could not get my head around the truth that this person was no longer apart of my life.

After denial I went through what I think was “depression”. It was painful. For weeks I walked around ready to cry at a moments notice.  I tried to ignore the pain I was in.  Unfortunately for me (or fortunately depending on your view), my life is too involved to have an “isolation” stage where I just keep to myself. However my feelings were certainly in isolation. I struggled not to show my pain. Then one day I was standing in the kitchen alone and I finally had the courage to let it go. I said, “It hurts” aloud from my mouth to God’s ears. I repeated “It hurts” probably like ten times, each time felt like it was more intense than the other. Finally, after weeks of holding it in, I cried. I cried until my eyes dried. This was the end of my depression/isolation stage.

“Bargaining” was the stage where I realized that I was grieving. The other stages I can tell you about now in hindsight. At the time I was going through them I had no definition for what was happening to me. It was a good thing that I realized it during this stage because you have to be very careful with bargaining because it can lead you to do some really irrational and careless things. If the other person is grieving too, this stage may thrust you back into an unhealthy relationship.  Sometimes you bargain directly with the person or thing that you lost. Many times we bargain with God. “If you do this…I will do that.”  Me? I did neither, I bargained with myself. I went into full-blown, maniacal planning and execution mode. It was quick. It was powerful and it turned my life upside down.  Luckily I’m good standing on my feet or my head.

After I realized how silly I was being in my bargaining process I got pissed off.  “Anger” was the stage where I carried around a different pit in my stomach.  I finally removed the person from my phones and email distribution lists. I was done! Throughout the day my mind drifted to aspects of the relationship. These memories made me roll my eyes or sigh. I wanted to slap somebody, anybody.  I went through a mental list of all the things I had done to love and support this individual over the years. For our relationship to end the way it did, well…it made me angry. I felt I deserved better. Gratefully, after a few days,  I put iTunes genius on “gospel”, jumped up on the treadmill and ran until I nearly melted to release the toxic emotion in me.  Anger had passed but I was not at acceptance. I went back into denial and started to think that after some time passes, everything will be alright.

Ironically, “Acceptance” sort of snuck up on me.  Like most human process, we give no thought to the steps of progress. How often do you think about blinking or breathing?  That’s how my grief process progressed. Once I actually accepted that I was grieving I embraced my emotion daily.  I reconciled in my mind that the relationship was unhealthy for me and to the other person, too.  I wondered if we could ever develop a healthy relationship with so much baggage behind us.  Day in and day out I pondered on the loss.  Then one day, very inconsequentially, I realized that I had not given a thought to the person or the relationship in quite some time.  I was at acceptance and didn’t even know it.  I began to smile at the thought of the good times and breathed a sigh of relief that we ended an unhealthy pattern that was not productive for either of us.

In fact, this blog post did not come from thoughts concerning that particular relationship.  I recently ended another unfruitful relationship.  I went straight to acceptance on that one and moved right on along my journey. The comparison in how I dealt with the loss of the two relationships gave me insight into how valuable each was/was not in my life…which gave me the idea for this blog post. I hope it helps.  Miracles and Blessings, Kamryn.

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