Stages of Grief Following a Break-Up

Grief is a natural response to the end of a relationship.Grief is a natural response to the end of a relationship.

In 1969, Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first discussed her “five stages of grief” in her book "On Death and Dying." Through her studies, Ross determined the five stages of grief to be denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Ross’ stages can be applied to various traumatic life events. For example, the break-up of a romantic relationship might cause someone to go through Ross’ stages of grief. According to Ross, “grieving is a natural part of the human experience”, and working through the five stages can help you heal and move forward.


Denial is the refusal to accept that the break-up has actually happened. You may tell yourself the relationship is not really over or that the other person will come back.


During this stage you become angry that the break-up has happened. According to “”, you may wonder why something like this has happened to you or seek someone or something to blame.


At this point, you may try to reverse the break-up by bargaining with your ex. For example, you may say, “If we get back together I will change [something about yourself that the other person disliked]."


This is the point where sadness over the break-up settles in. Sadness manifests itself differently for everyone. You may want to cry or just sit or lie quietly and reflect on your emotions. You might find comfort in the company of family or friends or prefer to spend some time alone.


The final stage of grief is acceptance of the break-up. This does not mean that you are no longer sad about it. It simply means that you have made peace with the fact that the relationship is over, and you can begin to move forward.

Other Considerations

It is important to understand that everyone experiences the grieving process differently. Your experience will not be exactly the same as anyone else’s. You may not go through every stage of grief. It is also natural to experience the stages out of order, repeat stages, or linger on certain stages longer than others. The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation recommends activities such as attending support groups, journaling or physical activity to help you put your grief into perspective. However, if your grief does not begin to heal or you experience thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek the professional guidance of a counselor, doctor, or religious adviser.

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About the Author

Kelly Smith has been writing professionally since 2010. She writes for various websites, specializing in health and literature. Smith is a certified pharmacy technician with more than five years of professional experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in multimedia communications from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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