Stages of getting over a breakup
The 13 Stages Of A Breakup, Plus How To Grieve and Move On
There’s no denying that breakups suck. Like, really suck. After all, the ending of a relationship, whether platonic or romantic, is a type of grief—and grief is never easy to get over.
“Breakups are difficult, in general, because it’s a change, transition, and loss of something that was once, in many cases, stable and consistent,” says Brooke Schwartz, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and clinical social worker based in Los Angeles.
Not to mention, as relational human beings, we naturally crave and form attachments, so letting go of an attachment we’ve developed can be really difficult, explains Caitlin Cantor, LCSW, an individual, couples, and AASECT-certified sex therapist with practices in Philadelphia and New Jersey. As a result, breakups can spark a lot of shame, guilt, and fear about what the future holds for one’s relationship outcomes, she adds.
Even if the breakup was mutual and amicable, it can still trigger old attachment wounds, beliefs about oneself, and memories from past relationships or past experiences with attachment figures, says Schwartz.
TL;DR: Breakups are the worst. But luckily, the stages of a breakup are rather predictable, and expert-approved strategies can help you cope while navigating each stage.
Meet the Experts:
Brooke Schwartz, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and clinical social worker based in Los Angeles, California.
Caitlin Cantor, LCSW, is an individual, couples, and AASECT-certified sex therapist with practices in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania and New Jersey.
Ned Presnall, LCSW, is a therapist and clinical director of services at Plan Your Recovery in St. Louis, Missouri.
Nicole Arzt, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Soul of Therapy.
Beverley Andre, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of BeHeart Counseling Services.
Megan Harrison, LMFT, is a sex therapist and founder of Couples Candy. Carla Manly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend.
Worth noting: The stages of a breakup are not linear and may look different for everyone. You may bounce between stages, stay in one for a particularly long time and others more briefly, or go through them in a completely different order than below. At times, you may even find yourself revisiting a stage you thought you were for sure past when you least expect it, says Cantor.
TBH, there’s no right way to process a split, but hopefully, understanding these standard stages can help you mentally prepare—and get over your ex for good.
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“In the stage of ambivalence, a person has had both positive and negative phases in a relationship, but they are unsure which one is definitive,” says Ned Presnall, LCSW, clinical director of services at Plan Your Recovery in St. Louis, Missouri. Presnall explains that this roller-coaster stage is marked by both good days (like after couple’s therapy or make-up sex) and bad days (like during a fight). “Oftentimes, their partner isn’t aware of their ambivalence, which can make this stage even more painful,” says Presnall.
Presnall suggests talking to friends and family to unpack the pros and cons of your relationship. It may also be beneficial to take stock of patterns in this relationship and previous ones to see if you exhibited signs of ambivalence in other romantic partnerships. Since some people are inherently more ambivalent than others, reviewing any trends in your dating history may help you realize it’s not specific to your current S.O. In that case, “you may need to work on resolving this in order to have a successful, long-term relationship,” says Presnall.2. Euphoric Recall
So, you've broken up. Welcome to the time when everything about your ex is all sunshine and daisies. Sigh, weren’t they perfect? Here, as you focus on the good aspects of your former relationship, you may gloss over the issues that led to your relationship’s demise, says Nicole Arzt, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Soul of Therapy. Sometimes, this stage can even create feelings of guilt or regret.
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That’s where reality testing comes in. “It's okay to reflect on the positive elements of a relationship, as doing so can help with feelings of anger or bitterness," says Arzt. "But write down the negative parts of your relationship as well." Like, "Did you feel disrespected? Did your partner put other people before you? Were you constantly fighting? It's helpful to remember why you broke up.”3. Making Sense Of It All
This is when you feel like your brain cells are firing at a million miles per hour as you try to come to terms with your relationship’s dissolution. “People tend to analyze the explanation of why the relationship was terminated and obsess over the fine details," says Beverley Andre, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of BeHeart Counseling Services. "If the person is confused, they will over-analyze each aspect of themselves, ex-partner, and the relationship to understand why the breakup is happening.”
Until you feel like you have a solid grasp of why things ended, you’ll be trapped in this headspace. That’s why getting some kind of closure is so important when saying adieu to your (former) boo.
If you’re struggling with this phase of a breakup, Andre advises chatting with your ex about any unresolved questions. “Proceed with the knowledge that they may not be able to articulate their responses in a way that is satisfying to you,” says Andre, but it will at least help you express yourself.
If you don’t feel comfortable (or safe) speaking with your ex, you may want to consider writing a letter containing the above, and not sending it. Sometimes, the act of writing can be helpful in the moving on process, even if you don’t share your words with the intended recipient.4. Numbness
“Not everyone experiences this phase, but the symptoms include detachment from reality and a sense of denial as to your current reality," says Artz. "Numbness can last anywhere from a few hours after the breakup to several weeks."
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To recover from this not-so-fun state, let yourself feel your emotions rather than blocking them out. “Scream. Journal. Cry. Talk to a loved one. Let those feelings out, even if they scare you. The more you can honor them, the more likely you are to heal and grow from the experience,” she continues. Punching a pillow works wonders too (IYKYK).5. Denial
The denial stage is when you’re having a hard time acknowledging that your relationship is over. “It’s a common defense mechanism used to help numb the intensity of the situation,” says Megan Harrison, LMFT, a sex therapist and founder of Couples Candy. “A person in denial lives with the false hope that things will go back to the way they were before, and this person is ultimately unwilling to move on.”
Denial may show up as you reaching out to your ex-partner, not respecting their boundaries, and continuing to carry out plans that were in place when you were still together in an attempt to re-establish the relationship, adds Schwartz.
“Many people fall into denial when they feel a loss of identity without their significant other,” says Harrison. “Remember that you are your own person, with your entire future ahead of you. Be encouraged by the fact that new life ambitions, goals, and dreams will replace your old ones.”
Harrison recommends prioritizing self-care during this stage. Re-shift your focus to beneficial self-care activities like exercising, reading a new book, or pampering yourself with an at-home spa treatment.
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“During the anger stage, people are no longer denying what’s happened, so they’re looking back and feeling anger,” says Cantor.
In this stage, you may feel resentment towards your ex, frustrated about the breakup itself, or even angry at yourself for a variety of reasons. You may be frustrated at yourself for acting in certain ways, doing certain things, or initiating the breakup, even if it was the right thing to do, says Schwartz.
If your ex has moved on, you might be angry at them for finding someone so soon, says Cantor. You may even reflect back on earlier moments in the relationship and find yourself not necessarily angry about the breakup, but angry about something that happened six years ago, says Schwartz. Like, “Why did they do that? Or why did they say that?”
While anger isn’t a very comfortable emotion, it’s healthy to be angry and that anger can provide a helpful reminder of why the relationship ultimately had to end. Nevertheless, make sure to not let that anger consume you; instead, work to put that energy into self-care activities. “You could take a hot bath, smell a candle, or listen to calming music,” Schwartz suggests.7. Bargaining
After the anger stage comes bargaining. During this stage, people tend to imagine ways they could’ve handled the situation differently to possibly have had a better outcome. “There are often a lot of ‘what if’s,’ ‘I should have’s,’ and ‘I could have’s,’” says Cantor.
“In some ways, it’s trying to undo what’s already been done,” adds Schwartz. For some people, it’s an internal reckoning of what they could have done differently, while for others, it’s external. They might directly ask their ex to make changes or they, themselves, might offer to make changes in order to salvage the relationship, she says.
"Remember that you are your own person, with your entire future ahead of you. "
If you find yourself bargaining, remind yourself of the facts, suggests Schwartz. Bargaining might look like compromising on previously-established nonnegotiables in order to maintain the relationship. For example, you think, “Well, maybe I could compromise and have kids if that’s what he really wants.” But if parenthood isn’t a goal for you, then stating that fact involves being honest with yourself about your wants and needs. Remember: In a true partnership, you won’t need to compromise on your core goals and values.8. Sadness
Don’t underestimate your pain. “The end of a relationship can resemble the loss of a loved one," says Harrison. "A breakup is extremely painful and can be overwhelmingly disruptive to all aspects of your life." Remember: The end of a partnership not only means the loss of the person, but also your future hopes and dreams with that person.
Similar to the symptoms of depression, during this stage, you may find yourself withdrawing socially, sense some changes in your appetite or sleep patterns, and even become more irritable than usual, says Schwartz. And while symptoms like isolating yourself may be normal (and even healing for some) for a short period of time, if they start to prevent you from doing the things you would otherwise want to do, it may be a sign to consider seeking professional help, she adds.
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Nevertheless, while it’s extremely difficult at times to feel your feelings, Cantor recommends not being afraid to “go there” as a lot of growth and processing can happen in this stage. Allow yourself to cry, scream, and spend all day in your bedroom binging your favorite comfort show until you feel better (Sex and the City cures all, just sayin’).
FYI, you also don’t have to “go there” alone. If you can, lean on your support network—it’s harder to handle sadness alone. Talk to loved ones about what you’re going through, or enroll the counsel of a licensed therapist or psychologist. “Spending time with people who support and care about you will remind you that you are valued,” says Harrison.
At the end of the day, instead of fretting about the past and predicting the worst for the future—What if I never meet someone? What if we hadn’t gotten into that fight?—remember to ground yourself in the now, Harrison urges. “Mindfulness can help you step back from these thoughts and allows you to embrace the flow of life as it unfolds, without taking negative thoughts too seriously,” she says.9. Social Media ~Changes~
Let's be honest, social media has made it harder to feel like you’ve fully moved on. First off, know it’s okay to take some time after the initial breakup before you tackle the process of deleting social media pictures, updating your Facebook relationship status, and the like. "Go on a social media sabbatical until you're emotionally ready to make changes to your accounts," says Andre. "There's no need to rush through your emotions."
In addition to updating digital networks, it’s now also time to part with physical remnants such as any clothes, gifts, or other items that remind you of your former partner.
Above all, remember that you don't owe anyone in your social network an explanation. “Create and enforce personal boundaries in order to protect your wellness,” says Andre. Marie Kondo-ing the ghost of your relationship past may even leave you feeling empowered and excited to start anew.10. Relapse
Heartbreak can bring you back together, and in some cases, help you overcome issues that were previously holding you back. “Sometimes, this can lead to a more stable long-term relationship—the grief can act as a wake-up call and motivate the couple to focus on the positives,” says Presnall. “But sometimes, the relapse is just a relapse. There might be a moment of relief, but then the negative dynamics of the relationship become more prominent, and you breakup again. ” (Again and again and again, even.)
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If you decide to reconcile your differences and get back together, be sure to take time to reflect and work through what led you to break up in the first place...or you'll be back at breakup stage one before ya know it.11. Acceptance
After being in anger, doing the bargaining, and feeling your feelings (and, yes, relapsing), acceptance is where you land when you are no longer resisting the breakup, says Cantor. In other words, you’ve made it to the other side.
In this stage, you’re beginning to build out your life again now that the relationship is officially over. And while you may still have your moments, you’re looking ahead towards your oh-so-bright future. “It’s a feeling I’ve heard described as inner peace,” says Schwartz. “It’s finally coming to terms with the reality of the relationship having ended, even if you’re not okay or happy with the end result. ” (BRB, just entering my villain era, a.k.a setting boundaries and living for me.)
12. TheComparison Dating Phase
This part of the post-breakup journey reveals that you’ve made enough progress to begin your search for love again—congrats!—but are still having a hard time letting go of your former flame. Hey, it's a process!
“During this phase, you may go out with people, but you find yourself comparing them to your ex," says Arzt. "As a result, you continue to feel disappointed or let down. Even if you like the other person, you still feel fixated on your ex." This phase may last for a few months, years, or for those in a very long, serious relationship, even decades. Yeah, sorry.
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To break free, recognize that this behavior is completely normal. Then, try to track when and in what situations you compare a new love interest to your ex to help you uncover why you’re doing it. (Is it because that characteristic is something you love in a partner? Hate? Is it because you miss your ex’s friends group? Is it because they’re too similar to your ex?)
“Your ex was an integral part of your life—it makes sense that you use them as the barometer for your next relationship,” says Arzt. But consider chatting with a professional if this is getting in the way of your next ~love.~ "It's helpful to talk about these feelings in a safe place where you can discuss your fears or challenges."13. Forward Motion
Hallelujah. You did it. You’ve emerged and are wholeheartedly ready to get on with your life. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be tough moments, days, or weeks ahead as you adjust to life post-breakup. “Straggling emotions and memories may still bleed through,” says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, author of Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend. It’s perfectly normal to want to date again, even if it’s accompanied with some mixed emotions.
Continuing your work from the previous stages will serve you well. “By journaling, engaging in self-care, and continuing to increase self-awareness, the painful breakup energy slowly but surely dissolves,” says Manly. Phew, that’s a relief.
Now, get out there, tiger. You got this!
Perri O. Blumberg
Perri is a New York City-born-and-based writer; she holds a bachelor's in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at Institute Of Culinary Education. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She's probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she'll never turn down a bloody mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober. com.
Naydeline MejiaAssistant Editor
Naydeline Mejia is an assistant editor at Women’s Health, where she covers sex, relationships, and lifestyle for WomensHealthMag.com and the print magazine. She is a proud graduate of Baruch College and has more than two years of experience writing and editing lifestyle content. When she’s not writing, you can find her thrift-shopping, binge-watching whatever reality dating show is trending at the moment, and spending countless hours scrolling through Pinterest.
The 7 Stages Of A Breakup: How To Get Through & Move On
Breaking up with someone vs. getting broken up with.
If you're the person who was broken up with, it might take you a bit longer to accept what's happened. But it's also not easy to be the person who makes the decision to end a relationship.
For that person, there may have been a period of time when they were deliberating their decision and trying to figure out what they wanted to do. "It's still very painful to break up with someone," licensed clinical social worker Jordan Aura-Gullick, LCSW, explains to mbg, "and if you're the person who did the breaking up, you probably already resolved your reasons why." This can make it a bit easier to move through phases like shock and denial, but the breakup can still feel jarring.
Both parties will move through the stages at their own pace, which will look a bit different for everyone.
How long does it really take to get over a breakup?
There's no definitive answer to how long it takes to get over a breakup, according to both Gullick and clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP. "It depends on how long you were involved, how strongly you felt, how invested you were, and how important it was," Hallett notes.
She adds that typically, it's likely to be a couple of months, though if it was a very long-term relationship, it can take a lot longer. On top of that, where the relationship was at the time of the breakup is significant. Did everything seem fine and normal? Or was it becoming clear things were starting to steadily fall apart? It can feel easier to get over if both of you saw it coming but may take longer if it was a total surprise.
Gullick notes that how we relate this person to our own sense of self-worth and self-esteem will play into how long it can take to get over a breakup. Things like "how much each of you relied on the other for approval, acceptance, validation, identity, etc." are important to take into account. If you really believed this was your one chance for a soul mate, Hallett adds, it can make it feel particularly unsettling and painful.
And just as a note, Hallett says the idea that it takes half the time you were with someone to get over them is simply too generalized, and really, it's going to look different for everyone.
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Stages of a breakup:
Stage 1: Shock
This stage is particularly pertinent if you were the one who was broken up with and if you didn't see it coming. The shock of a breakup is all about pain, disorganization, and confusion, Gullick tells mbg. You may try to rationalize it and feel an immense need to understand what went wrong. "Often, it's bewildering," she says.
Hallett also notes that this stage comes with a lot of pain, and it will be very focused on the "why." Asking things like "Why did this happen?" or "How could they do this to me?" in an attempt to understand isn't uncommon. "People feel that they're desperate for answers, or they're looking for closure," she says. "They just don't understand it, and the question of 'Why, why, why?' keeps coming up. This is a first response."
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Stage 2: Denial
Shock and denial are closely interrelated, as you grapple with the reality of what's occurred. Hallett explains that as people move into denial, "they're looking for information—they tend to hyper-focus on things like, 'She or he said they'd love me forever, or they promised we were going on vacation. '"
In denial, people bring up all sorts of things their partner said that they thought indicated their relationship was going to continue. "They're arguing why that other person shouldn't have broken up with them," she adds, "and that tends to lead to a denial."
Denial can involve trying to convince yourself your partner didn't mean it or that they'll change their mind. "We're also trying to rationalize it with our logical brain, but things don't often make sense in the denial and shock phase," Gullick adds.
Stage 3: Bargaining
This is the stage that can lead to "relapse" or going back to your ex, Gullick says. In an attempt to make things better and/or make the problem go away, people may start to bargain—with themselves or with their ex.
Hallett notes questions like "What do I need to do differently?" and "Can we just have another chance and try again?" may be tempting to ask. We'll think about all the what-ifs, and we often blame ourselves for where the relationship went wrong. "In this stage, people care a lot about the 'if only,'" she notes, adding you may "put up with stuff you previously weren't OK with because you're feeling such a yearning to be with that person."
Until things have cooled down, some time has passed, and both of you have a chance to get some clarity and closure, it's best to avoid reaching out during this phase. Again, we aren't always thinking logically in these early stages, and if you want to be able to move on and heal, both of you will need adequate space.
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Stage 4: Anger
Once you've moved through shock, denial, and bargaining, the reality of the breakup will begin to set in, "And the person often does have a lot of anger about what's occurred," Hallett explains. This stage can come from a lot of different places depending on the context of the relationship.
Are you angry because your partner cheated? Angry because the breakup was out of the blue? Angry with yourself—or them—for not investing more in the relationship? It can even be a combination of these things. Gullick says things like jealousy and competitiveness can rear their head in this stage, whether these feelings are directed at your partner or at yourself. Ultimately, though, anger is often an emotion that surfaces before we can face deeper emotions, like hurt, disappointment, grief, shame, helplessness, and so on.
Stage 5: Sadness and grief
As the anger starts dissipate, the true grieving process will start to begin. At this point, you're slowly accepting the reality that the breakup happened, though you may not have necessarily accepted that it's truly over. To grieve a relationship is completely normal and to be expected. After all, not only did you lose your S.O., but in a way, you lost the person you were with them—or at least, the way the person made you feel.
Gullick notes you also are dealing with the loss of the certainty the relationship provided, as far as future plans, mutual friends, their family, and anything else you shared. She notes this can spur feelings of depression, emptiness, and apathy. Things like self-doubt and desperation can also creep in, as well as loneliness and abandonment.
This is a particularly difficult stage to move through, but the good news is, when you start processing these feelings of sadness and grief, you're able to start healing and moving on. Leaning on your support system, prioritizing your own needs and self-care, and even seeing a mental health professional can help you get through this difficult time.
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Stage 6: Acceptance
Ah, yes, the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. When you start to accept the breakup, things will start to feel more positive, and you may even start to recognize that the relationship wasn't the only one for you. Gullick notes that acceptance can be "anywhere from apathetic surrender to true hope and moving past that person."
It's important to keep this spectrum of acceptance in mind, she adds, because it's not always a linear path. "You can feel pretty resolved about it, and then other moments you're right back in denial or bargaining."
Nevertheless, you'll know you're moving through the acceptance stage when you find yourself letting go and disengaging mentally from this person. You're "thinking about yourself as an individual rather than considering or thinking about your ex," Gullick says. And as Hallett adds, you're able to "see new beginnings, hope, and the fact that there could be someone else out there—they weren't the only fish in the sea."
Stage 7: Moving on
Beyond just accepting the breakup, moving on is a bit of a different story. "You really know you've moved on when it's not just acceptance, it's true disengagement from this person," Gullick says. You're able to redirect your focus from the relationship and that person even more so than when you first started to accept it, and you're "really focusing on yourself, your own needs, and your own self-worth," she adds.
You've finally stopped checking their social media, you're not constantly thinking about them, and you wish the best for them, knowing you won't be a part of that. As you move through this phase, you may feel like you're ready to put yourself out there again and date someone new, which is great! Just try to be aware of whether you're "rebounding," or truly ready to start a new relationship.
Gullick says when you get to a place where you're OK with being alone, you're no longer caught up in your ex, and you can truly stand on your own emotionally, you'll know you're ready to give love another shot.
The bottom line.
It's important to note that these stages don't necessarily go in order for everyone, and you may jump around or backtrack throughout the grieving process. "Sometimes someone can be super angry right away, then a couple of days after being angry, all of a sudden it seems to hit, and then they're in denial," Hallett notes for example.
But however these stages look for you, she adds that all of them can be worked through. Breakups are tough and call for plenty of self-love and lots of support from your loved ones. It may feel awful, and it may take some time, but both of you will get through it and come out on the other side with lessons learned, and hopefully, a willingness to try again when the time is right.
5 stages in the evolution of a person's feelings after a divorce, the period of acceptance of the inevitable and other phases of the completion of relationships
Parting with loved ones and close people, no matter what they were caused, is always painful.
Realizing and accepting himself and his feelings, a person overcomes difficult situations and only then begins to build his life in a new way.
This is a complex psychological process in which it goes through several stages.
- Stages of a breakup in psychology
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- Denial of the end of a relationship
- Expression of feelings
- Dialogue and bargaining
- Period of depression
- Acceptance of the inevitable
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Stages of breakup in psychology
Separation provokes the development of a severe psychological state, the exit from which is accompanied by several stages of destruction. Sinking into depression gives the impression of a hopeless situation . However, this condition can be dealt with.
Below we will consider all the stages of breaking up a relationship, among which psychologists distinguish 5 main stages of immersion in a sad state and tips that facilitate the way out of it.
Acquaintance with information about the course of these stages, how they pass, how long they last and how you can help yourself helps to speed up psychological recovery.
Acute feelings due to a break with a loved one are manifested in all people to varying degrees . However, similar symptoms are noted, expressed as:
- spasms in the throat;
- rapid breathing;
- feeling of emptiness or heaviness in the abdomen.
The most striking expression of the manifestations described by a suffering person is the presence of constant tension or a feeling of mental pain.
Behavioral reaction to parting with a loved one manifests itself in different ways for everyone.
Some people get stuck in a painful state for many months or even years , others enter into new relationships, trying to quickly forget about the breakup.
Women, especially young ones, are going through a breakup violently. They are not ashamed of their emotions, although they perceive the breakup as something terrible. At a more mature age, emotional manifestations are less pronounced, but resentment and mental pain remain for a long time.
In contrast to women , men, due to their secret nature, are more difficult to endure a break . The weakening of resentment and pain does not occur for a long time, since the separation is not discussed, and emotions do not find a way out.
The acute period of separation lasts from 4 months to 1 year. At the same time, the stages described below do not have clear time limits, largely depending on the psychological characteristics of a person.
The first stage identified by psychologists as the denial of the loss of relationships is preceded by a state of shock . When a relationship is broken, a person’s consciousness refuses to perceive what is happening as a reality.
There comes a numbness of the soul, a deafening of the senses. This is manifested by lapses in memory and the inability to reproduce events in full.
Shock acts as a defense of the human psyche. This stage is accompanied by the following manifestations in behavior and state :
- the person sighs often and heavily;
- complains of fatigue;
- loses weight due to lack of appetite;
- possible loss of a sense of the reality of what is happening;
- emotional distance from others may occur.
In a state of shock, the mourner does not yet fully feel all the pain of loss , simply does not believe in it. The mind understands that everything is bad, but the feelings seem to be numb.
Denial of the end of the relationship
The state of shock is followed by the stage of denial.
At this stage, the person does not believe in the reality of losing the relationship . Characteristically, he denies not the very fact of the rupture, but its constancy.
In other words, he tries to convince himself and those around him that everything will soon change for the better.
The denial stage is characterized by such behavioral manifestations as:
- inability to concentrate on the realities of the surrounding world;
- blurred perception of everything that happens around - as if through a veil;
- erroneous vision of a loved one in a crowd;
- waiting for her/him to return when the doorbell rings.
Such manifestations, despite their naturalness, are perceived by a grieving person as almost impending madness. When denied, you plunge into a bad dream , from which you want to wake up and make sure that everything remains the same.
However, over time, consciousness comprehends the reality of parting, real emotions, feelings and pain of loss wake up.
In order not to get stuck for a long time at this stage, psychologists advise not to immerse yourself in yourself, communicate with other people as much as possible, and do everyday things.
It is important to keep yourself busy with something interesting and exciting. So it will be easier to overcome the severity of the gap.
Expression of feelings
Feelings awaken after the realization of what has happened. They are quite varied and contradictory. This sensation :
- pain and anger;
- anger and resentment;
- hatred and despair;
- anxiety and shame;
- guilt and prohibition of aggression.
Psychologists consider the ban on aggression to be the most dangerous of states. It is not possible to let go of the situation, as a person does not allow himself to be angry and sinks deeper into a negative state.
To successfully overcome this stage, one should not be ashamed of one's feelings, it is better to let them go. It is advisable to share your feelings and emotions with loved ones and not harbor resentment in yourself.
Spilling out anger, anger, and sometimes hatred, accompanied by tears, allows a person to let go of the situation, due to which relief comes, and then healing.
Dialogue and bargaining
This stage is characterized by the desire to agree with the opposite side on the resumption of relations .
At the same time, there is a fear of loneliness, an understanding of the impossibility of existing, as before, and a panicky horror of life's problems.
This state is akin to a swinging swing, when the most incredible versions of reconciliation are born in the head. Deceiving himself that it is still possible to return, a person does not make attempts to establish a new life.
Overcoming this stage is possible only if you realize the impossibility of continuing the relationship. For this it is desirable to change the situation, go on vacation, change, if necessary, the place of work in order to no longer meet with the person who broke off relations. Try not to think about him, filling your free time with exciting activities, meetings with interesting people.
Period of depression
After a storm of activity aimed at unsuccessful attempts to restore lost relationships, the most difficult period comes - the stage of depression.
Having displaced the previous painful perception of the breakup, the psyche is unable to fill the resulting void with other feelings. The period is characterized by :
- withdrawal into oneself;
- deep dive into understanding loss;
- gradual awareness of what happened and the desire to understand and forgive;
- idealization of the initiator of the separation, the desire to find virtues in him and erase bad qualities and deeds.
Such processes are very painful, through deep suffering, acute mental pain, despair and hopelessness. Sometimes they are accompanied by strange and frightening thoughts about the meaninglessness of their further existence, or, conversely, how happily their further life together could have been.
At this stage there is :
- coldness of relations with close people;
- inability to concentrate;
- immersion in past events;
- desire to be alone.
Getting out of a depressive state involves seeking help from a psychologist . It is important that close people are nearby, support and do not let you be alone with your experiences. Psychologists recommend plunging into everyday life with its worries and problems.
Acceptance of the inevitable
The peculiarity of this stage is the experience of two stages: acceptance and humility.
There is a gradual acceptance of the parting that happened against the background of liberation from pain and sadness:
- sleep normalizes;
- Appetite appears;
- there is an interest in professional activities;
- thoughts of a break appear less and less;
- the image of the deceased is no longer the focus of all life;
- The experience is manifested by bouts of mourning, sometimes very sharp, but quickly passing.
The duration of the stage can last for a year. It ends more often after the anniversary of the separation. Gradual adaptation leads to an understanding of the irreversibility of relationships and the need to live on , freed from the burden of feelings due to parting.
The stage of humility or completion, replacing the acceptance of the situation of separation, is the last phase of parting.
There are no definite time limits in the duration of all stages.
They are too individual and are the result of the efforts of a person who directs his forces to get out of the state of dependence on the initiator of the break. From his desire to find himself in a new world and form new relationships.
This requires :
- to learn how to plan your life;
- raise the bar of self-esteem;
- convince yourself of your own uniqueness;
- give a setting for happiness.
It is important to learn to be glad that you managed to come out of a sad experience as a winner, not to break down, but to be reborn to a happy and fulfilling life. This will be the final stage of parting - the acceptance of the final break.
What to do after a divorce?
Psychologists recommend to both women and men to heal from a severe psychological condition caused by separation from a loved one :
- Try to let go of the situation. Accept what happened and put an end to the relationship. This will get rid of obsessive memories and sad thoughts.
- Do not keep pain in yourself, share experiences with loved ones.
- Do not withdraw into yourself, do not indulge in laziness and nurture your spiritual wound.
- Take good care of your health. Negative symptoms characteristic of a depressive state can cause serious harm to health.
- If you cannot cope with depression on your own, you should visit a psychotherapist. Incomplete stages of parting destroy a person, weakening his defenses. The specialist will help you accept what happened and let it go.
- Having accepted the pain of loss, it is necessary to direct energy to the performance of professional and everyday tasks.
- As an auto-training, praise and love yourself, not forgetting the need to look good. Devote free time to shopping, spend it with friends and acquaintances. The day should be filled with various events. These are meetings, trips, walks, communication.
- Tune in to a new life where Hope, Faith and Love will reign.
The stages of parting are described in this video:
Having gone through all the stages of parting, a person comes to the realization that life goes on. That it still has its own values. And, having let go of pain and resentment, having accepted the fact of a break, he is already able to enter a new happy life, fully feeling the strength in himself for rebirth.
Stages of separation. Article. Integral psychology and psychotherapy. Self-knowledge.ru
This article consists of information collected from various sources - J. Teitelbaum, F. Vasilyuk, G. Whited. It was written on the basis of an article by clinical psychologist Oksana Nikolaevna Litvinova. It examines the stages of separation from a psychological point of view. I believe that everyone should have this information, because parting is an inevitable part of our life. Sometimes, after parting, people do not understand what is happening to them, and go through such stages, destroying themselves for a long time. They may feel their situation is hopeless and even insane, but in fact it is not.
Awareness and understanding of the reactions of our psyche can help in accepting ourselves and our feelings. This is important for coping with difficult situations. With this information, we can gain the ability to support ourselves and ask for help from others when needed. And someday, we may be able to share our experience with others.
This article describes examples of how the stages of separation usually go. These stages and states are almost identical both when a relationship is broken and when parting with the dead. The extreme states are described here for a better understanding of these processes. The stages of grief can be experienced more or less intensely and even change places. I hope that this information will be useful to you.
I often see people going through a breakup shut down and think they have to deal with it on their own. Based on my experience, I can say that often such a position only aggravates a person’s condition and makes the process of parting even more painful and long.
For a healthy transition through the phases of separation, it is very important to talk about your feelings and share this pain with someone else. This could be a relative, friend, psychologist, therapist, etc. In this state, maybe it seems that everyone is indifferent to your experiences, but this is not so. In fact, there is always at least one person who is able to listen and support you. You don't have to carry it all alone.
The process of mourning in literary sources is often called the work of grief. This is, in fact, a lot of inner work, a huge mental work to process tragic events. So, mourning is a natural process that is necessary in order to mourn and let go of a loss. Conventionally, "normal" mourning and "pathological" mourning are distinguished.
After going through the steps below, I suggest you read Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning.
Stages of normal mourning
Normal mourning is characterized by the development of experiences in several stages with a complex of symptoms and reactions characteristic of each.
The picture of acute grief is similar in different people. The normal course of mourning is characterized by periodic attacks of physical symptoms such as spasms in the throat, choking attacks with rapid breathing, a constant need to breathe, a feeling of emptiness in the abdomen or heaviness, loss of muscle strength and intense subjective suffering, described as tension or mental pain.
The stage of acute grief lasts about 4 months, conditionally including 4 of the stages described below. The duration of each stage is rather difficult to describe, due to their possible reciprocity throughout the entire work of grief.
A tragic event causes horror, emotional stupor, detachment from everything that is happening, or, conversely, an internal explosion. The world may seem unreal. Time in the perception of a grieving person can accelerate or stop, space can narrow.
A feeling of unreality of what is happening, mental numbness, insensitivity, deafness appears in the human mind. The perception of external reality is dulled, and then in the future gaps often arise in the memories of this period. The defense mechanisms of your psyche are triggered, which are turned on automatically to "help" you get through this.
The following features are most pronounced: constant sighing, complaints of loss of strength and exhaustion, lack of appetite. Some changes in consciousness may be observed - a slight feeling of unreality, a feeling of increasing emotional distance with others ( "how can they smile, talk, go shopping when there is such pain" ).
Usually, the shock reaction complex is interpreted as a defensive denial of the fact of what happened, protecting the grieving person from facing the loss in its entirety at once.
Denial (search) stage.
Characterized by disbelief in the reality of the loss. The person convinces himself and others that "still will change for the better", that "he/she will be back soon" etc.
What is characteristic here is not the denial of the very fact of the loss, but the denial of the fact of the permanence of the loss.
At this time, it can be difficult for a person to keep his attention in the outside world, reality is perceived as if through a transparent veil, through which the sensations of the presence of the departed break through: a face in the crowd, similar to a departed person, when the doorbell rings, a thought may flash: it is he/she. Such visions are quite natural, but frightening, taken as signs of impending madness.
Consciousness does not allow the thought of loss, it eschews pain that threatens destruction, and does not want to believe that one's own life must now also change. During this period, life resembles a bad dream, and the person is desperately trying to "wake up" to make sure that everything remains as before.
Denial is a natural defense mechanism that maintains the illusion that the world will change to follow our yes and no, or better still, stay the same. But gradually consciousness begins to accept the reality of loss and pain - as if the previously empty inner space begins to fill with emotions.
Stage of aggression.
It is expressed in the form of indignation, aggressiveness and hostility towards others. Blaming themselves, relatives or friends, etc.
Being at this stage of confrontation with loss, a person can threaten "guilty" or, conversely, engage in self-flagellation, feeling guilty for what happened.
The bereaved person tries to find evidence in the events leading up to the loss that he/she did not do everything that could have been done. He/she accuses himself of inattention and exaggerates the significance of his slightest missteps. Feelings of guilt can be exacerbated by a situation of conflict before the breakup of a relationship or before the person has passed away.
The picture of experiences is substantially supplemented by various reactions. Here are some of the possible experiences of this period:
- Sleep changes.
- Panic fear.
- Appetite changes with significant weight loss or gain.
- Periods of inexplicable crying.
- Fatigue and general weakness.
- Muscle tremor.
- Abrupt mood swings.
- Inability to concentrate and/or remember.
- Changes in sexual desire/activity.
- Lack of motivation.
- Physical symptoms of suffering.
- Increased need to talk about the departed person.
- Strong desire to be alone.
- Or vice versa, immersion in constant meetings.
- Workaholism as a defense mechanism to help escape feelings.
- Inability to work.
The range of emotions experienced at this time is also quite wide. A person is acutely experiencing loss and has poor self-control. However, no matter how unbearable feelings of guilt, feelings of injustice and the impossibility of further existence - all this the natural process of experiencing loss . When anger finds its outlet and the intensity of emotions decreases, the next stage begins.
Stage of depression (suffering, disorganization).
This is a time of longing, loneliness, withdrawal into oneself and deep immersion in the truth of loss. It is at this stage that most of the work of grief falls, because a person has the opportunity through depression and pain to look for the meaning of what happened. There is an opportunity to stop, immerse yourself in yourself and rethink the value of your own life. Gradually let go of the relationship with the departed, forgiving him/her and yourself.
This is the period of greatest suffering, acute mental pain. A lot of difficult, sometimes strange and frightening feelings and thoughts appear. These are feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness, despair, a feeling of abandonment, loneliness, anger, guilt, fear and anxiety, helplessness. Typical are unusual preoccupation with the image of the departed and his/her idealization - emphasizing extraordinary virtues, avoiding memories of bad traits and deeds .
Memory, as if on purpose, hides all the unpleasant moments of the relationship, reproducing only the most wonderful ones, idealizing the departed. This process intensifies the painful experience. Often people suddenly begin to think how happy they really were and how much they did not appreciate it.
Grief also affects relationships with others. Here there may be a loss of warmth, irritability, a desire to retire.
Daily activities change. It can be difficult for a person to concentrate on what he is doing, it is difficult to bring things to an end, and a complexly organized activity can become completely inaccessible for some time. Sometimes there is an unconscious identification with the departed, manifested in involuntary imitation of his gait, gestures, facial expressions.
In the phase of acute grief, the mourner discovers that thousands upon thousands of little things in his life are connected with the person who has left his/her life. "He/she bought this book", "he/she liked this view from the window", "we watched this movie together" . Each of these details pulls the consciousness into "there-and-then", into the depths of the flow of the past, and one has to go through pain in order to return to the surface.
This is an extremely important point in the productive experience of grief. Our perception of another person, especially a close one, with whom we were connected by many life ties, his / her image, is saturated with unfinished joint affairs, unfulfilled plans, unforgiven insults, unfulfilled promises. It is in working with these connecting threads that the meaning of the work of grief in restructuring the attitude towards the departed is laid.
Paradoxical as it may seem, pain is caused by the mourner himself.
Phenomenologically, in a fit of acute grief, not a person leaves us, but we ourselves leave him, break away from him or push him away from us. And this self-made detachment, this own departure, this expulsion of a loved one: "Go away, I want to get rid of you ..." - and watching how his image really moves away, transforms, and disappears, and causes, in fact , heartache.
The pain of acute grief is not only the pain of decay, destruction and death, but also the pain of the birth of a new . The former divided being is united here by memory, the connection of times is restored, and the pain gradually disappears.
The previous stages were associated with resistance, and the emotions that accompanied them were mostly destructive. The next stages look different.
The stage of acceptance of what happened.
In the literature (see J. Teitelbaum and F. Vasilyuk) this stage is divided into two:
- The stage of residual shocks and reorganization.
At this phase, life gets back on track, sleep, appetite, professional activity are restored, the deceased ceases to be the main focus of life.
The experience of grief now proceeds in the form of at first frequent, and then increasingly rare individual shocks, such as occur after a major earthquake. Such residual grief attacks may be just as acute as in the previous phase 0038 , and against the background of normal existence, subjectively perceived as even more acute. The reason for them more often is some dates, traditional events. "New Year without him/her for the first time", "spring without him/her for the first time", "birthday" or daily life events. "Offended, no one to complain to", "a letter came in his/her name".
This stage usually lasts for a year. During this time, almost all ordinary life events occur and then begin to repeat themselves. The anniversary of the separation is the last date in this series. Maybe that's why most cultures and religions set aside one year for any breakup.
During this period, the loss gradually disappears from life. A person has to solve many new tasks related to material and social changes, and these practical tasks are intertwined with the experience itself. During this period, people very often compare their actions with the moral standards of the deceased, with his / her expectations, with "what would he / she say l". But gradually more and more memories appear, freed from pain, guilt, resentment and abandonment.
- "Completion" stage.
The normal grief experience we are describing enters its last phase about a year later. The duration of the grief reaction is obviously determined by how successfully the person performs the work of grief, that is, comes out of a state of extreme dependence on the departed, re-adapts to the environment in which the lost face is no longer there, and forms new relationships.
The departure of a person who has evoked strong hostility, especially hostility that has no outlet, may cause a strong grief reaction in which the hostile impulses are most prominent. This happens, for example, after a relationship in which people could not, for one reason or another, openly express their grievances and claims to each other.
It is not uncommon if a person who played a key role in a certain social system leaves (in a family a man played the roles of a father, breadwinner, husband, friend, protector, etc.), then his departure leads to the disintegration of this system and to drastic changes in life and social status of its members. In these cases, adaptation is a very difficult task.
One of the biggest obstacles to the normal functioning of grief is the often unconscious desire of mourners to avoid the intense suffering associated with grief and avoid expressing the emotions associated with it. In these cases, there is a "stuck" at any of the stages, and painful reactions of grief may appear.
Painful grief reactions
Painful grief reactions are distortions of the "normal" mourning process.
If a person is caught by a heavy loss while solving some very important problems, or if it is necessary for the moral support of others, he may almost or not at all reveal his grief for a week and even much longer. In extreme cases, this delay can last for years, as evidenced by cases where people who have recently suffered a bereavement are gripped by grief for people who died or passed away many years ago.
May appear as superficial manifestations of an unresolved grief reaction. The following types of such reactions are distinguished:
- Increased activity without a sense of loss, but rather with a sense of well-being and a taste for life. The person behaves as if nothing happened. It can manifest itself in a tendency to engage in activities close to what the deceased did at one time.
- Grieving symptoms of the last illness of the departed.
- Psychosomatic conditions, which primarily include ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
- Social isolation, pathological avoidance of communication with friends and relatives.
- Violent hostility against certain individuals. With a sharp expression of their feelings, almost never any action is taken against the accused.
- Hidden hostility. Feelings become, as it were, "hardened", and behavior becomes formal.
From the diary: "... I perform all my social functions, but it's like a game: it doesn't really affect me. I'm not able to experience any warm feeling. If I had any feelings, it would be anger for everyone".
- Loss of forms of social activity. A person cannot decide on any activity. Decisiveness and initiative are lacking. Only ordinary everyday things are done, and they are performed in a pattern and literally step by step, each of which requires a lot of effort from a person and is devoid of any interest for him.
- Social activity to the detriment of one's own economic and social status. Such people give away their property with inappropriate generosity, easily indulge in financial adventures and end up without family, friends, social status or money. This extended self-punishment is not associated with a conscious sense of guilt.
- Agitated depression with tension, agitation, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, severe self-blame and a clear need for punishment. People in this state may attempt suicide.
The above painful reactions are an extreme expression or distortion of normal reactions.
Flowing into each other on the rise, these distorted reactions significantly delay and aggravate the mourning and the subsequent "recovery" of the mourner. With adequate and timely intervention, they can be corrected and can be transformed into normal reactions, and then find their resolution.
Tasks of the work of grief
Passing through certain stages of experience, grief performs a number of tasks (according to G. White):
- Accept the reality of loss, not only with your mind, but also with your feelings.
- Survive the pain of loss. Pain is only released through pain. This means that the unexperienced pain of loss will sooner or later still manifest itself in some symptoms, in particular psychosomatic ones.
- Create a new identity, that is, find your place in a world that already has losses.
- Transfer energy from loss to other aspects of life. During mourning, a person is absorbed by the departed. It seems to him that forgetting about him / her or stopping mourning is tantamount to betrayal. In fact, the opportunity to let go of one's grief gives a person a feeling of renewal, spiritual transformation, an experience of connection with one's own life.
A person must accept the pain of loss. He must reconsider his relationship with the departed and recognize the changes in his own emotional reactions.
His fear of going crazy, his fear of sudden changes in his feelings, especially the appearance of a sharply increased feeling of hostility, all this must be processed.