Everyone deals with grief in his or her own way. There are five common stages that everyone experiences. It's not always a linear path, however, and the time it takes to experience each stage varies based on the relationships and the individuals involved. Some people experience all the stages within a few weeks, and others stay in one particular stage for years before moving to the next stage.
People don't want to be dumped in a relationship because of how they think they will be perceived by others. Also, no one wants to deal with the pain of loss and often block it out or deny it even happened. The denial stage doesn't happen directly after the breakup. It's not uncommon for someone to say, "It still hasn't sunk in yet." Some people are actually hoping that the breakup happened in the heat of passion and that the other person will change his or her mind in a few hours or in the next couple of days.
Anger and Resentment
Anger can be accompanied by shame, guilt or any number of other emotions. You direct your anger at the relationship, your former partner and even friends who may have been too involved in your relationship. You may blame them for causing the breakup whether the accusation is warranted or not. Even if the breakup was due to your own infidelity, you may still express resentment at your partner for not keeping you satisfied so that you wouldn't have had to cheat. You can even be angry at yourself for not holding up your end of the partnership. In the book "MENDS Counsellor Manual" Owen C. Pershouse writes "Anger expressed constructively is very helpful to recovery. Anger provides some needed emotional distance from an ex partner." It is best to let the anger out.
At some point, you will want the person back so that all the pain will end. You are no longer angry. You start to pray to your creator to bring the person back into your life. You start making promises about the changes that you will make if your partner would just come back into your life. Plea, beg or ask for forgiveness, but this is a necessary step to help you deal with grief.
When the anger, resentment, begging, pleading and praying don't bring your partner back, it becomes more real than it has ever been. Your partner is gone and you are alone. Receiving divorce documents could induce this stage. Depression may engulf you. To you, the situation and even life appears hopeless. Everyone experiences depression in his or her own way. Some spend a lot of time alone; others spend it lashing out at others. According to a UC Davis Medical Report, "Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable."
Finally, you accept your new situation. Life isn't so grim after all. You haven't completely forgotten about your partner. You may even still love him or her. But you have accepted the situation, and you feel comfortable with moving forward. It could take years, weeks, days or months to get to this stage.
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- MENDS Counsellor Manual: A Structured Approach to Assisting Men in; Owen C. Pershouse; 2008
- Coping with Grief & Loss
- couple fight image by Allen Penton from Fotolia.com