The end of a relationship is always tough, no matter who initiated the split. Whether you were the dumpee or the dumper, you’re likely to experience some level of grief. The good news is that there are ways to get through the process and come out the other side.
The five stages of grief were first proposed by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying. While she was primarily talking about the grief surrounding death, the stages can be applied to any major loss, including the loss of a relationship.
The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You don’t necessarily experience them in order, and you may not experience all of them. Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
Denial is a common reaction to bad news. It’s a defense mechanism that gives you time to process what’s happened and to prepare for the reality of the situation.
For example, you might tell yourself that the breakup wasn’t really that bad. Or you might try to convince yourself that your ex was never really that great to begin with.
Anger is a normal response to loss. It’s a way of dealing with the pain and the frustration.
You might find yourself getting angry with your ex, even if they didn’t do anything wrong. You might also be angry with yourself, or with the situation. It’s important to find healthy ways to express your anger, such as talking to a friend or writing in a journal.
Bargaining is a way of trying to regain control of the situation. You might find yourself making deals with yourself or with a higher power.
For example, you might say, “If I can just get my ex back, I’ll never take them for granted again.” Or you might say, “I’ll do anything, just please don’t make me feel this pain.”
Depression is a natural response to loss. It’s a normal part of the grieving process.
You might find yourself feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless. You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or concentrating. It’s important to seek help if you’re struggling with depression.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief. It doesn’t mean that you’re happy about the loss. It just means that you’ve accepted that it happened.
You might find yourself feeling more at peace. You might still have days when you feel sad or angry, but overall you’re able to move on with your life.
The grieving process is different for everyone. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just know that it’s normal to feel a range of emotions after a breakup. And with time, the pain will lessen and you’ll be able to move on.