The Five Stages of Grief After a Breakup

By Mae Davies / November 27, 2014
The Five Stages of Grief After a Breakup
Every woman, at some point in her life, has to deal with the pain of losing something.  This something could be a favorite pet, a friend, or even an opportunity that you have been waiting a long time for.  But the thing that women most often lose, and probably the most painful among them all, is that of losing a relationship. Relationship breakups may be seen as “common” and “normal” among couples nowadays, but still, the pain and the hurt that one experiences during the stages of grief after a breakup is way beyond common and normal.  This is especially true if you have really loved the person wholeheartedly and selflessly.  Indeed, getting through the breakup is a real struggle for people who have taken their relationships seriously and have devoted their lives to them.

Coping with a breakup starts from taking one step at a time and moving on from one stage to the next.  Though these stages of grief are not really experienced in the chronological order as some people may skip a stage or may bounce off from one stage to the other, these stages of grief after a breakup are what a person normally experiences while undergoing the emotional and grief processes that come with a breakup.

1. Shock and Disbelief

Breakups oftentimes come as a shock to us.  Along with the shock is also the disbelief that the relationship has ended.  This is the most common reaction immediately after the breakup – the feeling of a numb disbelief.

This is all the more true if the cause of the breakup is a third party, a really bad fight, or some other issue that came as totally unexpected.  At this emotional stage, one still does not yet comprehend that the relationship has ended.  At this stage, you might still be waiting for his call, thinking that “he doesn’t mean it,” or that what was said and done between the two of you was just a spur of the moment.

2. Denial

Second among the stages of grief after a breakup is denial.  At this stage, we try to convince ourselves that “nothing is wrong,” that “everything is going to be just fine,” even if it’s not.  At this point, we deny and do not acknowledge the reality of the breakup.  We try to avoid the issue of the breakup, and sometimes, we even seek ways to escape this reality.

3. Anger and Guilt

Another stage is the anger and guilt stage.  At this stage, the reality of the breakup slowly creeps into our system and into our consciousness.  Here, we blame the faults and mistakes done by our ex that led to the breakup, we become angry with him, with ourselves (basically for letting him into our lives), with the world, and with just everything that reminds us of him.

After all the anger, what we feel next is some form of guilt, especially if we have begun to acknowledge our own faults and mistakes that contributed to the end of the relationship.  At this point, we might feel that we didn’t put much effort into the relationship or that we could have done more to save it. stages of grief after a breakup

4. Depression

Mixed feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness mark the depression stage.  This is the stage where you just want to hide in your bedroom, wear pajamas all day, eat a lot of chocolates, avoid showers, and watch sad movies and listen to emo songs with a box of tissues in your lap.

This stage may be the darkest among the stages of grief after a breakup as during this stage, all that you can think about is the pain and the hurt that you are feeling.  You might feel that you can’t get over him and that you cannot move on with your life, but eventually, after all the crying and after a particular amount of time, you’ll be able to do so and you’ll find that you’re just fine.

The 2 Week Diet

The depression stage is actually the first step toward acceptance because though you’re hurting, you are finally acknowledging the reality of the breakup.

5. Acceptance

The last among the stages of grief after a breakup is the acceptance stage.  Getting through this stage makes you one step closer to finally letting go and moving on.

Here, you are already used to the reality of the breakup and you are thinking less and less about your ex.  The pain that you’ll feel during this stage is also less raw and powerful as compared to the pain that you’ve felt in the other stages.  At this stage, you’ll finally begin to feel more hopeful and positive.  At times, you may still reminisce about the past, or feel nostalgic about it, but now, you are able to accept that the relationship has already ended and you’ll feel more at peace despite everything that happened.

Going through a breakup may be hard and painful, but finally overcoming and surviving each stage makes all the pain and the hurt worth it.  As you survive the different stages, you’ll feel that the sun is shining in your life once again.  That though you’ve loved and lost, there’s more wonderful things in life to celebrate.

About the author

Mae Davies

BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.