Most people bypass the grieving process or worse – are unaware they are living through the experience. Refusing to acknowledge the failure of a past relationship spills over to the next and the baggage continues to accumulate, interfering with the future. The five steps of the grieving process allows retrospection and improves the probability of learning from the situation.
In this beginning stage, a person refuses to believe the relationship is over and may continue as if nothing has happened. Usually couples therapy is suggested as well as special date nights, trips down memory lane of happier times, and/or attempts to make the other jealous.
Arguments are renewed and mingled with resentment towards the ex. Advancement in technology gives the anger stage a worldwide outlet as volatile emotions and social media airs dirty laundry to everyone. Friends and family are often the recipient of recruitment speeches to choose a side.
Bargaining may happen during the denial stage and possesses a desperate tone. A person may use others as leverage, such as children or pets, to convince ex to stay. If separation is unavoidable, promises to date or to remain intimate are pledged as an effort to renew the relationship.
This phase truly sets in after all attempts of reconciliation are denied. Signs of depression include insomnia, change in mood or personality, weight loss, and feelings of loneliness or hopelessness. An individual may experience a lack of concentration and thoughts of suicide. Drugs and/or alcohol are often used as coping mechanisms and unfortunately, add to a downward spiral.
At this point, a person accepts the end of the relationship and no longer feels animosity towards ex. The person has finally let go of the dream of rekindling a spark. If willing, a casual friendship with ex or re-entry into the social scene is possible.
Ending a relationship is a painful experience and the recovery process doesn’t have a fixed timetable. The ancient advice of getting under someone isn’t the best course of action when unresolved emotions are still skin deep. The grieving process is one more step towards leaving useless baggage in the past and hopefully, learning from the experience.
If you or anyone you know is battling with depression or contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 - 800 – 273 - TALK (8255).